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Sociology Research Guide

Research Process

Research Process (aec)

Research Process

Research is a process that cannot (should not) be completed in one sitting. If you follow the steps outlined below, you should experience less frustration, anxiety and general dread, and be much happier with the end product. Librarians can help you at any step in the process, but specifically in topic development, background research, and the collection of evidence.

Once you get the assignment, you will choose your topic, and start brainstorming. Next, you will conduct some exploration or background research and take detailed notes about what you find. Using these notes, you will then focus your topic, and your brainstorming will then be about how you will start searching for your topic. Then, you will collect the information you need to support your topic. This is where you may go back to further refining your topic and collecting more background information.  Once you feel that you have enough information to start writing, then you will work on drafting your assignment. Again, you may need to collect more information if you feel that there are gaps in your paper. Once you have completed your writing, you will write your citations and bibliography. Then you will finish by evaluating the process.

One thing that I can’t stress enough, is that this process is cyclical. If you follow this process, then you may have to revise your topic, and search for new sources a few times. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like you are going in circles with your research. You can always come meet with a librarian for help with your research.

 

Scholarly Articles

what is a scholarly article (aec)

What is a scholarly article?

A scholarly article is how researchers (scholars) communicate the findings and analysis of their research. Scholarly articles:

  • Provide original research and analysis - these articles are based on studies or experiements, or analyze an artifact or event. Every scholarly article presents something new about the world we didn't know before.
  • Are written by scholars - scholars tend to hold PhDs, or other advanced degrees and are professors at universities.
  • Are published in peer-reviewed journals - you won't find these floating about on the internet, they have to be published in a journal. Most times you'll find them in the library databases.
  • Might be hard to read - they act as the primary conversation between scholars about a field of study. Since they are written by scholars, for scholars, they contain specialized language that might be hard for the lay person to understand.

Now that you know what they are, how do you read them? Watch this presentation to learn more. 

databases sociology TO

Sociology Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

Links to full-text via Get-It current All
Social Services Abstracts

Abstracts of current research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development.

Links to full-text via Get-It current All
JSTOR

 

Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.

Full-text most recent five yearsmost recent five years Most

Literature Reviews

TL-ALL-litreview


Literature Review

 

What is a literature review?

A literature review is not research, it is a review of the research that has been done on your topic.

A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must

  • organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
  • identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. (From Univ. of Toronto)

Check out these sites for more help understanding literature reviews

Tips on conducting research for a literature review

  • Use bibliographies and reference pages of articles to direct your research. You may start to see some trends with the people who are writing about your topic. Check the bibliography for more articles about your topic.
  • Use the authors who you have found to be writing on your topic as starting points. Look for additional articles, and rebuttals, retractions or responses to their research

Use this chart to track articles you read for your literature review:

APA

APA (General)

What is APA style?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is the citation style used in most of the social sciences as well as some of the natural sciences.

Official APA Style Manual at CSUSM Library

This is the official APA manual published by the American Psychological Association. It is the most recent and up-to-date edition available, currently the 6th edition.

  • Library copies (BF76.7 P83 2010) 
    The CSUSM Library owns several copies of the official APA manual that you can consult in person. Click on the link above to see where they are located.
  • The official APA website 
    Need access to the official APA guidelines right now but can't get to a copy of the book? Try out their website. It has helpful FAQs and basic guidelines.


Helpful Online Guides

What is a DOI? 

APA style requires that you include a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) whenever you cite the online version of an article.  A DOI is a special number that identifies each unique article in a database.  Please note- some articles may not have a DOI.  

To find the DOI, Ask a Librarian or check out the follwing tools:

Using APA for Special Cases 

More FAQs at the official APA website...

Sample Paper in APA Style

ASA

ASA (General)

What is ASA style?

ASA stands for the American Sociological Association. It is the citation style used by many sociologists, and it is the style used in all ASA journals.

 

Official ASA Style Guide

 

This is the official ASA manual published by the American Sociological Society. The CSUSM Library currently offers copies of the 5th edition.

 

Helpful Online Guides



Sample Papers in ASA Style

There are currently no sample papers available in ASA style. The following links offer guidance on how to format an ASA-style paper.

Need Help?

Denise Kane

Education, Sociology, Liberal Studies and Human Development Librarian
dkane@csusm.edu
760-750-4360
Office Location: 
KEL 5010
Office Hours: 
By Appointment

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