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Sociology Guide: Sociology 307: Research Methods I

This guide is designed to help students do research within the fields of sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice.

Finding Articles

What is the Broad topic of your research - sociology? criminal justice? human resources? anthropology?

  • First go to the database(s) best for your general topic.
  • Check out the Search Tips tab on the Sociology Guide to find some tips on searching the database.
    • Look for subject headings and use wildcards and quotation marks to do the best searches you can.
  • Are there other disciplines that might have useful information?
    • Sociology crosses many disciplines so try searching other databases as well.

Which database to search

These are the best databases for sociology at South Dakota State University.

The databases below are not as sophisticated for searching but contain a lot of articles in sociology.

These are the best databases for criminal justice at South Dakota State University.

The databases below are not as sophisticated for searching but contain a lot of articles in criminal justice.

These are the best databases for anthropology at South Dakota State University.

The databases below are not as sophisticated for searching but contain a lot of articles in anthropology.

Finding Books

  • Books tend to have broader topics than articles so you may have to think big to find a book.
  • If your search results include articles, click on Books and More in the dropdown box by the search to limit to the library's catalog.
    • Looking for the catalog with Books and More

Search for books, articles, & media

Search for an item from thousands of libraries worldwide: >>

Types of Articles

Journals are scholarly, reliable information. You still need to evaluate the information, even the best experts make mistakes.

  • Published for scholars, researchers, and experts in the field
  • Authors are named and their expertise is described
  • Articles are long and typically report on research
  • Information sources are attributed and there are often long bibliographies
  • Illustrations included are used to clarify the text


Reay, Mike. 2010. "Knowledge Distribution, Embodiment, and Insulation." Sociological Theory 28(1):91-107. doi: 10.2307/25746215. (all the examples below come from this article)

  • Author information - Notice the author's address is included to indicate that his is at Swarthmore College
    • Image of author information
  • Note that this article runs from page 91 through 107 so it is 17 pages long.
  • Source information
    • An in-text citation is circled in red
    • Beginning of the bibliography is circled in blue
    • image of in-text citation and bibliography
  • There are no illustrations including tables or charts in this article

Peer Reviewed Journals

Peer reviewed journals are a special class - they are the creme de la creme of information sources.

What does peer review mean?

Articles submitted to a journal.

The journal send the articles out to 1 to 3 experts in the field without identifying the author.

The experts review the article and send it back to the journal with recommendations for improvements or approval.

The article is sent back to the author with the recommendations and a tentative approval or rejection of the article. The reviewers remain anonymous.

If improvements are made and there was a tentative approval, the article is resubmitted and published.

In other words, the information is vetted by experts before it is even published.

Most databases allow you to limit your results by peer-reviewed journals.

  • Published for entertainment
  • Authors may be identified but not always
    • They are often journalists and expert in reporting but not in the fields they report on
  • Articles are usually short
  • Sources are not cited
  • Illustrations are included for entertainment and advertising


Keller, A. G. 1916. "Sociology and Science." Nation 102(2653):475-78. (all examples below come from this article)

  • Author identified but there is no information on his or her expertise in the area
    • Magazine author info
  • Note that this article is only 4 pages long
  • There is no bibliography
    • image of the end of a magazine article
  • This magazine does not have a lot of illustrations but it is unusual in this regard
    • Think of People Magazine, Car and Driver, Time, or Newsweek for more typical examples
  • Authors may be acknowledged but often not
    • Authors are journalists who are experts in reporting but often not in the topics on which they are reporting
  • Short articles
    • Often just a few column inches
  • Focused on news topics - either events or human interest

Interlibrary Loan

Although Briggs Library has an extensive collection, you may need items that are not available at the Library. No worries! You can request those articles, books, and other materials through Interlibrary Loan.

Keep in mind that the process may take from a week to ten days. Start your research early!

Many of our databases have an Interlibrary Loan Request button for articles not available in that particular database. Before submitting the loan request, be sure to check our Journals List for the title of the source or periodical (i.e. New York Times).

Accessing Library Databases and Journals From Off Campus

We license many of our databases for use by SDSU students, faculty, and staff. To access them from off campus, you will need to log into our proxy server.

Students: Use your jacks e-mail username and password (use the whole e-mail address as the username).

Faculty/Staff: Use your campus login credentials.

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