Sociology: UO SOCU 1008: The Social World

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SOCU 1008 UO The Social World


This page will get you started in finding articles and books to include in your essay plan and essay.

Your assessment requires you to:

  • Develop three keywords that will help you locate references for the essay topic.
  • Find a minimum of eight sources (five journal articles and three research monograph books) from three different academic resources that will contribute to your essay.
Remember always consult your course outline and website for the details of the assessments.

Developing your keywords

Begin your search plan by breaking down your question into three keywords.

Example essay topic: Durkheim proposed that crime and deviance brought people in a society together. Interracial marriage is now considered less 'deviant' than in the past. Discuss the relevancy of Durkheim's statement, using interracial marriage as an example.
  1. First identify the task word(s) in your questions. For example in the above question the task word is discuss.
  2. Then identify your key concepts. These are the 'what' of your question. For example what are you trying to find out?
    • interracial
    • marriage
    • deviant
  3. Develop further possible keywords by thinking about alternative terms (synonyms) that could be used to describe each key concept.
    • interracial - interethnic, racially mixed...
    • marriage - dating, relationships...
    • deviant - deviancy, aberrant, acceptable, tolerant, attitudes...
  4. Consider any parameters (limits) of your search. In this case you may need to add the theorist Durkheim as another concept to your search, or perform a separate search for the theorist, then manually compare his statements with your findings.

Creating a mind map can help you understand your topic and identify key concepts. For example:

If you need more help see:

Use introductory or foundation resources to build your understanding of key topics and issues. This will also help focus your keywords and search criteria. These may include:

  • Your textbook.
  • Required and recommended reading.
  • Scholarly introductions and overviews.

Some key foundation resources are listed below:

Putting your search together

Now you need to put these keywords together and build a search and develop your search criteria.

Remember use these to build your search criteria:

  • OR connects similar words like child OR children
  • AND connects different concepts together like child AND migrant
  • "speech marks" let you search for a phrase - it locks the words together like "ethnic heritage"

This is how your search would look in an advanced search in the collection:

Use Refine my results on the left hand side to find peer reviewed journals:

You can also limit to just books If you want to find books:

Finding the right articles and books to answer your question is tricky!

It is always better to find 20 or so really relevant resources rather than a thousand resources that are not relevant. You can use these tips to change your search:

Increasing Results

Reducing Results

  • Remove a concept
  • Add alternative terms
  • Use broader keywords
  • Remove limits (e.g. dates)
  • Avoid using highly specific phrases
  • Add a concept
  • Search in a specific part of the record ('field')
  • Use more specific keywords
  • Apply limits (e.g dates)
  • Use phrase searching

What is a 'research monograph'?

Books are sometimes know as monographs. They can be categorised in many ways such as: reference books, textbooks, or research books.

Epstein, Kenway & Boden (2007, p.77) give the following definition of a research monograph:

"You should think of it as a book with one consistent argument or set of arguments that runs through from the introduction to the conclusion and is based on research (hence ‘research monograph’). It follows that one or more people may author a monograph." 

Where to search

Start your search with the Library collection. Try an advanced search so you can build your search properly

You should also try searching relevant databases. Databases are search tools which allow you to find information such as articles and book chapters.

Some key databases you could search:

Sociological Abstracts

Sociological Abstracts (via ProQuest) is one database you could use in this assignment.  It provides descriptive information for international literature in sociology and related disciplines, covering journal articles, books and conference papers.

Example Advanced Search

  • Put a different concept on each line.
  • Use OR to connect any similar terms (synonyms).
  • Select Anywhere but not the full text from the drop down menu to the right.

  • Tip: Use the Find it button to try and locate full text articles.

Evaluating information

It is important to evaluate the information you find. Watch the short videos below. For more information, view the Evaluate page.

More Help

Navigate to Referencing Roadmap

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