Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SOCI 315 - Research Methods - Heather Sullivan-Catlin Spring 2017: SOCI 315


Carol Franck


phone: 267-3310


Important Points

Start at the Databases A-Z page.  Select Sociology from the drop-down list of Subjects and Articles from the drop-down list of database types.  Use Sociological Abstracts.

Sociological Abstracts tips:

  • Use the Thesaurus to find terms
  • Search by Subject (Descriptor)
  • Remember to select suitable limiters on the search screen

Literature Searching

Getting Started

  • What resources are you looking for?
  • Type?
  • How Many?
  • Time Frame?
  • Topic?
  • What search terms describe your topic?
    • Be flexible
    • How does your topic determine an appropriate library database?
    • "Resources by Subject" - Sociology

Sociological Abstracts

  • ..."abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines...since 1952."
  • journals, books, book chapters, etc.
  • Coverage is focused on core sociology journals with inclusion of other journals where sociologists also publish
  • What is meant by indexing?
  • Why is an abstract of value to the researcher?

Controlled Vocabulary

  • Identification and consistent use of terminology to provide analytic subject indexing of database entries
  • Thesaurus provides list of terms, scope notes, and relationships between terms - broader, narrower, related terms
  • Link to thesaurus on the advanced search screen to the right
  • Using the thesaurus to select search terms and specifying the subject or descriptor field for searching those terms allows the researcher to take advantage of the analytic work that has already been done.

Searching Techniques - Remember that you are searching brief records, not the full text of an item

    1. Identify initial search vocabulary (either keywords or descriptors from the thesaurus)
    2. On the results page, look at the box of suggested subjects.  Copy the useful ones.  You can also identify useful subjects by looking at individual relevant records
    3. Go back to the search screen and adjust your search by using the subject terms you identified in the first results list
    • Be sure to manipulate your search terms correctly
      • Boolean Connectors
        • AND connects different concepts and narrows a search: college AND sports
        • OR, with parentheses, combines synonyms and broadens a search: (college OR university) AND (sports OR athletics)
      • Asterisk as a wildcard retrieves variations of a common stem: (college* OR universit*) AND (sport* OR athlet*)
      • Quotation marks for phrases: "Student athletes"


      • Use choices appropriately to ensure results that meet your assignment criteria
        • Date Range - Last ten years - 2001 - 2011
        • Journal Articles
        • English
        • Other Options - see advanced search page for choices


      • Use abstracts to assess the relevance of results
      • Use the descriptors to identify terms for useful alternative concepts, then go back and edit your search
      • Article Linker - access to the article
      • Leave enough time for Interlibrary Loan

      Using Bibliographies

      • Citations and reference lists in bibliographies are important resources
      • Citation Linker checks the Article Linker database for citations that you enter

      Tracking your work

      • Mark and save/e-mail results and searches
      • "My Research" accounts


      Crumb Library: 315-267-2485
      Crane Library: 315-267-2451

      Text Us! (Mon-Fri, 10 - 4): 315-277-3730

      Social Media

      College Libraries


      SUNY Potsdam College Libraries
      44 Pierrepont Ave
      Potsdam, NY 13617