SOCI 360

Self and Society


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William Cuthbertson
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Meriam Library 121

In order to find sources for your research paper, the best place to start is in a database.

Databases are collections of journals with searchable content to find articles on your topic. Most databases cover different topics and have different content. However, there can be some overlap. This guide suggests databases that are useful for sociology and sociology related topics.

To find an article:

1. Open the database

2. Use keywords to search for articles on your topic.

  • Keywords are basic terms that describe your topic
  • Articles found in the database that contains your keywords
  • The more accurate your keywords are, the better the results
  • If you off topic, try finding new keywords and alternative keywords
  • If your results are too narrow, try finding more broad keywords
  • If your results are too specific, try to narrow your keywords

3. If you need a peer reviewed article, click the "peer reviewed" button. Often you will find this on the top or to the side of the results. 

4. Look through the results, evaluate your articles for:

  • Content: are the articles on topic? Note: not all the results have to be perfect articles for you, just start taking a look to see overall if you are going in the right direction.
    • Yes: good, keep looking through them
    • No: How are they off? Too specific? Not specific enough? Not on what you thought they would be on? See changing keywords in the section below.
    • Sort of? Keep looking through your results and give some a more in-depth look to see what the articles are examining.
  • Relevance: are the articles relevant to your project? The content and topic might be good, but the articles are not relevant to what you are looking for. Usually, this means that you need to change a keyword to make the search more specific. Try adding another keyword.
  • Alternative keywords: Read through the abstracts and subject terms to find more and different keywords to adjust your search.

5. Find articles that are worth reading and reviewing.

  • Email permanent links to yourself - look for a "permanent link" icon.
  • Click "check for full text" if full text is not readily available.
  • Request items we don't own through Interlibrary Services (ILS) - Don't pay for any articles! Contact us!

6. Start reading your articles!


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