SOC 320 Theory Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliography

SOC 320 Theory Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliography

Sociology 320 Theory Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliography

Theory Paper Proposal

Dr. Ali has asked you to create a theory paper proposal specifying a social issue or social problem. You will consider the following questions when writing your proposal: 

a) What are you specifically interested in exploring on this topic?

b) Why is this topic a significant social issue?

c) What question/s do you have that are unanswered regarding this topic?


Annotated Bibliography

You will obtain and analyze six peer-reviewed, academic journal articles. These sources will provide and deepen your research-based knowledge on a social issue / problem of your choosing. For each entry, you will write a bibliographic reference using APA format, followed by a specific six-sentence annotation.

As always, please consult Dr. Ali's full assignment guidelines in Cougar Courses.


Background Research

Background Research

Background Research (SOC 320)

Before Trying the Scholarly Databases, look for Background Information

Google Smart Searching strategies

To do a Google Smart search, go to the search bar and type in your keyword [ex. environmental justice] space followed by (or .gov, .org). This type of search narrows your results to specific types of sources (academic, non-profit, or government-related), which can be helpful in locating credible information.


Food deserts

    Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. To access full-text of the article, look for the Get-It Button.


    Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. To access full-text of the article, look for the GET-IT Button.

    Most Useful

    Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
    ProQuest - News & Newspapers

    Search among ProQuest’s News & Newspapers databases

    Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1985 to current None

    Covers news and business information, including Dow Jones and Reuters newswires and The Wall Street Journal, plus more than 8,000 other sources providing current news.

    Full-text 1975 to current Some
    Academic Search Premier

    This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

    Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most

    An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.

    Links to full-text via Get-It 1972 to current All
    Ethnic NewsWatch

    Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.

    Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1992 to current None

    GenderWatch contains publications which focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas. GenderWatch is a repository of an important historical perspective on the evolution of the women’s movement and the changes in gender roles.

    Full-text 1970 to current All

    Also Useful

    Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
    San Diego Union Tribune (current coverage)

    The San Diego Union-Tribune is the product of a merger of the San Diego Union, founded in 1868, and the Evening Tribune, founded in 1895. Published from an editorial, printing and business plant in San Diego's Mission Valley, it is the second-oldest newspaper in Southern California, and the oldest business in San Diego County; an area known as a popular vacation destination and home to Mission Bay Park, the largest man-made aquatic park in the country, consisting of 4,235 acres. The Union-Tribune has won numerous journalism awards over the years, including the Pulitzer Prize, and features daily news, sports, shopping, and entertainment coverage for the San Diego area.

    Full-text 1983 to current Some
    San Diego Union Newspaper Archive

    Collection of newspapers published in San Diego under various titles, including the San Diego Union.

    Full-text 1872 to 1983
    Los Angeles Times (1996-present)

    Los Angeles Times articles from 1996-present. For articles published prior to 1996, see the Los Angeles Times (Historical) Database.

    Full-text 1996 to present None
    Los Angeles Times (Historical)

    Archival issues and articles beginning with 1881. Issues published during the past twenty-four years are not available in this database. Check ProQuest or Factiva databases for the material not held in this collection.

    Full-text Archive None
    New York Times (Current, 1980-present)

    Articles from the New York Times from 1980-present.  For articles prior to 1980, see the New York Times (Historical Collection) Database.

    Full-text 1980 to present None
    New York Times (Historical Collection)

    The New York Times Historical Collection provides full page and article images including the NY Daily Times (1851-1857). The most recent four years not included in this historical collection can be searched through ProQuest Direct, LexisNexis or Factiva.

    Full-text Archive None
    African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

    Newspapers digitized from 37 states chronicling African American experiences and influence in a variety of events from the early 19th through late 20th centuries.

    Full-text 1827 to 1998 None
    Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980

    Spanish and English language newspapers offering news, advertisements, opinion and more from across the nation reflecting contemporary thought and activity.

    Full-text 1808 to 1980 None

    Determining Credibility of Sources

    Determining Credibility of Sources

    Credibility of sources

    Determining credibility of your sources is critical to selecting appropriate information sources for your research assignments. Scholarly journals are regarded as the most credible types of sources because of the rigorous peer review process they undergo.

    You will likely consult non-scholarly sources including newspaper articles and websites for general background information on your chosen topic; thus, you will also need to determine credibility of these sources.

    Here are some ways to identify credibility:

    • Can you identify the author(s)? If the source is anonymous, why?
    • Can you identify author credentials (education, job expertise)? Can these be verified elsewhere?
    • Is the author affiliated with an academic institution or credible organization?
    • Is there an "About Us" page that describes the organization?
    • Do a Google search for the author's name (enclose in quotation marks) and see what kind of sites come up. Do they seem credible?
    • Does the information have grammatical/spelling errors? 
    • Does it list sources or links to factual information? Are the links updated or do they lead to 404 error pages?
    • Is there a bibliography?
    • Can this information be verified elsewhere?
    • What kind of editorial vetting did the information undergo?
    • Is the research methodology adequately explained?
    • Who is the intended audience for the information? Academics? General public?
    • Is the information appropriate for your research assignment?
    • Does the author present objective arguments or make it clear when they're expressing opinions?
    • Is the website personal or institutional?
    • What other views are expressed?
    • Are there advertisements? If so, how are they differentiated from the content?
    • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? To persuade? To market?
    • What does the URL say about the website? .com=Commercial, .edu=Educational, .gov=Government, .mil=Military, .org=Non-Profit
    • Is the information outdated or up to date?
    • Can you ascertain content's date of creation?
    • Are the links working?
    • Credible websites will display "last updated" dates; working links indicate the website is being maintained regularly.

    Source: University of South Carolina, Upstate Library



    Longform Journalism

    Longform Journalism

    Longform Journalism

    For students gathering background information and developing foundational knowledge on a research topic, longform journalism sources can be valuable for distilling critical ideas and formulating research questions. 

    Lengthier than your average newspaper article, longform journalism integrates various multimedia tools including video and interactive graphics and data to propel feature storytelling and engage readers. Longform tends to be substantive in content, underscoring immersion reporting, investigative techniques, and sustained narrative (Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications).

    Longform Article Examples

    Here We Abandon All Destinations

    The Everything Town in the Middle of Nowhere

    Why Is It So Hard to Stop People from Dying of Snakebite?

    The Case for Reparations

    Longform Periodicals

    These longform periodical titles are freely available on the Internet (limited article access) and via the CSUSM Library's databases. 

    The Atlantic Monthly (Internet) / The Atlantic Monthly (CSUSM Library) Covers news, culture, politics, technology, and more through multimedia content, articles, and its flagship magazine.

    The Economist (CSUSM Library) News and opinion on international politics, business, finance, science, and technology.

    The Nation (Internet) / The Nation (CSUSM Library) Established in 1865, one of the oldest, progressive news sources covering a variety of political and social issues.

    The New Yorker (Internet) / The New Yorker (CSUSM Library) Features journalism on politics and social issues; includes incisive cartoons in each issue.

    New York Times Magazine (Internet) / New York Times Magazine (CSUSM Library) Features longer articles than those typically found in the newspaper.

    Longform Websites

    The Conversation Independent news source from the academic and research community curated for the general public. (Note: These are not peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles)

    Epic Magazine Immersive narrative non-fiction articles.

    Guernica Focuses on the intersection of art and politics. Content includes memoir, investigative reporting, commentary, and multimedia journalism that explores identity, conflict, culture, justice, science, and more.

    JSTOR Daily Provides background information on a variety of topics in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Articles contextualize current events with academic scholarship. (Note: JSTOR Daily does not contain scholarly articles; you will find those in the JSTOR library database).

    Longform Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh's writing program, this site recommends new and classic non-fiction from around the web. 

    Longreads Gathers stories from all over the web and also produces original content which includes in-depth profiles and feature articles.

    Mosaic Longform articles on science-related topics.

    Pacific Standard Publishes investigative pieces focusing on social and environmental justice.

    ProPublica Nonprofit newsroom producing investigative journalism pieces focusing on government and politics, business, criminal justice, the environment, education, healthcare, immigration, and technology. 

    The Verge Focuses on culture and technology.

    Additional resources

    Gathering Research Sources (differentiating between scholarly / substantive (longform) / editorial)




    How do I structure a keyword search?

    How do I structure a keyword search?

    How Do I Structure a Keyword Search (SOC 320)

    Before you embark on your database search, take a few moments to identify keywords, which will be a timesaver for you. Some things to try:

    • Write down any research questions you have about your topic; these should be open-ended (starting with How...? or Why...?)
    • Identify the key concepts from your research question (look at the nouns)
    • Write down synonyms for those key concepts

    Taking a few minutes to think about and identify some keywords before starting your search will help you search more efficiently, which will save you time (and frustration).

    • Identify important concepts from your research question (look for nouns)
    • Brainstorm some synonyms (to help you find more information)
    • Keep track of useful terms you discover during research and add those to your set of keywords

    Ex. research question: How are food deserts connected to racial health disparities?

    (Identify the keywords in this research question)

    How are food deserts connected to racial health disparities?

    food deserts racial disparities health
    food apartheid marginalized communities well being
    food security racial discrimination wellness

    Tips on searching the databases

    Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:

    Tip Examples
    Use keywords, not long search phrases

    Instead of searching for "How are food deserts connected to racial health disparities?" break down your search into the main keywords:

    food deserts, racial disparities, health

    Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together

    Use AND to combine different keywords

    "food deserts" AND "racial disparities"
    Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords "food deserts" or "food apartheid"
    Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject 


    Sociology Research Databases

    Sociology Research Databases

    Most Useful

    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 1963 to 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 1980 to current All

    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 1838 to most recent five years Most

    A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

    Links to full-text via Get-It 1966 to current Some
    Social Work Abstracts

    This database provides access to social work and human services journals from 1965 to the present. Topics include addictions, therapy, child and family welfare, civil and legal rights, mental health, education, and human services.

    Links to full-text via Get-It 1965 to current Most

    Also Useful

    Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
    Academic Search Premier

    This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

    Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most
    Google Scholar CSUSM

    Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!

    Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It current to current All
    Dissertations and Theses Database: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection

    Dissertations and Theses Database includes digitized dissertations in a variety of subject areas including Art, Communications, Education, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Social Sciences.

    Some full-text 1979 to current All
    WestlawNext Campus Research

    This is a comprehensive database for news, business, and law-related information has been designed for students. It brings together news databases arranged geographically and topically; newswires as well as business, trade, and professional journals and publications; and law-related resources, including both primary law and analysis.

    Full-text 1789 to current Some
    Oxford University Press Journals

    Provides access to the full text of approximately 168 scholarly journals in a variety of disciplines including life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and law.

    Full-text 1996 to current All
    Sage Journals Online

    Sage Journals Online includes over 460 journals in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, Technology and Medicine.

    Full-text current to current All
    Women's Studies International

    Includes over 204,000 records drawn from a variety of essential women's studies databases.

    Links to full-text via Get-It 1972 to current Most
    Project Muse

    Full-text coverage for hundreds of scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics

    Full-text 1993 to current All

    APA Citation

    APA Citation