Sociology: SOCU 1003 The Social World

Start with the foundations

Begin with introductory, foundational works to help build your understanding of the area and key issues and aspects.

  • your textbook
  • your required and recommended reading
  • scholarly introductions and overviews

When you have mapped out the key aspects, you can better target and focus your searches with narrower keywords.

Example articles include the following.

To discover if a work discussed is available via UniSA Library copy the title of the book, article or journal into the Library Catalogue and search.

In focus: what is a 'research monograph'?

There are many different types of books (print or electronic).

Books / eBooks may be categorised as:

scholarly | trade | professional | reference | textbook | handbook | monograph | edited volume | conference proceedings

Research monographs
"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." (Epstein, Kenway & Boden 2007, p. 77)
"...peer reviewed original research in book form..." (Clark & Phillips 2014, p. 73)

Other resources: news and statistics

Access ABS Home

Topics @ a Glance provide lists of statistics under the economy, environment and energy, regional, people and industry headings

ABS Presents Series  are general videos with a statistical focus

Popular statistics show what ABS statistics people are using

To find news articles on a particular topic look at the Library databases listed under the News subject heading. These databases contain both Australian and international content:

You may also want to consult the News Media subject guide which includes news wires, RSS feeds, and media releases.

Want to find 'sociology' related Australian newspaper articles?

Use the NewsBank Newspaper database to search for specific Australian articles by selecting the Australia's Newspapers link and search for the article by Headline (change from the default option of All Text), using double quotes around your phrase.

If you don't know the exact headline you can still do a headline search - just add keywords and double quotes. For example theft by headline and "past 12 months" at Date(s) field, would find the articles with the keywords theft in the headline/title which were published in past 12 months. You will then need to look through your results until you find the article you require. You can select the article you require to email or print it.

Top search tips

Completing an essay: a few key steps

An overview of the search process [Image source: UniSA Library]View 'The search process' [Image source: UniSA Library]






This recorded presentation provides a brief outline of key steps in the typically iterative search process - reading, planning, searching, evaluating, refining, searching, managing results... Includes reference harvesting and locating core, influential works.

Look at your essay topic and determine the main ideas or concepts. What terms ('keywords') are likely to find relevant resources when you search?

Before searching, identity the content words and phrases (e.g. medicalisation) and the instruction words (e.g. discuss). What do you need to answer in your essay? This will help guide your searching.

Develop key words and phrases by brainstorming around the essay topics, drawing on definitions from reference works, your readings, course notes and initial literature searching

For example, initial reading on medicalisation soon uncovers other terms such as social control and deviance.

What terms are appropriate for your essay question?

Use the terms of others in your searches. Look for relevant keywords and phrases in the record e.g. in the title, abstract, and subject fields and use these to refine your search.

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

More on mindmaps:

Using AND to connect terms [Image source: UniSA Library]Using OR to connect terms (Image source: UniSA Library)

Compare the number of results from the following Catalogue searches:

employment identity

employment identity globalisation

(employment OR work) identity globalisation

Typing OR into the Library Catalogue does not always work well. Keep Catalogue searches in basic, one-box search simple and try repeating searches with different combinations of terms.

The Catalogue and many databases including Sociological Abstracts provide both a Basic search and Advanced search:

Example Basic Search in Sociological Abstracts [Image source: ProQuest and UniSA Library]

Basic Search

AND is assumed i.e. (employment OR work OR occupation) AND identity.

Advanced Search

Example Advanced Search in Sociological Abstracts [Image source: ProQuest and UniSA Library]

You can enter the terms for each concept on a separate row. The rows are combined with AND.



In many search interfaces (including the Catalogue and ProQuest) you can use double quotation marks to find two or more words next to each other in that order.

For example:

"south australia"

"knowledge economy"

As authors can use words in many different combinations, don't overuse this tool - you might miss relevant literature. Only use it when you need to avoid irrelevant results. For example, searching for "asylum seeker" would not find a publication with the phrasing those seeking asylum

Find alternative word endings using a truncation symbol.

In many search tools including the Catalogue and Sociological Abstracts this is an asterisk.

Typing... ...finds alternate word endings such as:
sociolog* sociology sociologist sociologists sociological
globali* globalisation globalised globalization globalized

Example Catalogue search: sociolog* theor*

Increasing results Reducing results
Remove a concept Add a concept
Add alternative terms Search in a specific part of the record ('field')
Use broader keywords Use more specific keywords
Remove limits (e.g. date) Apply limits (e.g. date)
Avoid highly specific phrases Use phrase searching
Use an appropriate search tool
Record and organise what you find
  • Rediscovery
  • Correct referencing
  • Building your personal Library

Some search tools have the option to capture details of references one-by-one or as a batch via

Print | Save | Email | Export to reference management software (e.g. EndNote)

Library CatalogueOptions for saving publication details for later use


Use the '' double quotes icon to copy a draft citation, and the ellipsis ... to access more options

Multiple records

Use the pin to save items to a list. Access the list from the top of the screen. Make a final selection and ellipsis icon to access options. If you are signed in, the list will be saved; otherwise it will vanish when you close the browser.

Where to search: Catalogue and Sociological Abstracts

The Library Catalogue is a good place to start.

To restrict your search to just sociology-related material, try the search tool Sociological Abstracts.

Learn more about databasesView the recorded presentation 'Databases: introduction' [Image source: UniSA Library]

This recorded presentation covers: what a database is; databases and ‘platforms’ (interfaces or providers); common features of database platforms; keywords vs subject headings; accessing and choosing databases.


Example Advanced Search - keywords

Example search combining synonyms for 'employment' with OR and then using AND to add the concept of 'identity' [Image source: ProQuest and UniSA Library]One concept per row, using OR for synonyms.

Searching 'Anywhere' finds terms in any part of the record e.g. title, abstract.

Thesaurus and subject headingsSociological Abstracts record details: subject headings and classification code [Image source: ProQuest and UniSA Library]

When you find a relevant record, look at the terms listed next to Subject and refine (modify) your search to include any that appear relevant. The search example above includes a number of terms that are official 'subject headings' from the Sociological Abstracts thesaurus of descriptive terms. Not all records in the database have subject headings, so searching for these useful terms 'Anywhere' rather than in the Subject field will maximise your results.

Example searching combining Classification Code 1535 sociology of religion with the truncated keyword 'west*' [Image source: ProQuest and UniSA Library]

Classification Codes

You can limit your results to a broad subject area using these codes.


Evaluation - scholarly, peer reviewed, 'influential'?

View the recorded presentation 'Scholarly' and 'peer reviewed'

View the recorded presentation [Image source: UniSA Library] The presentation covers:

- Defining 'academic', 'scholarly' and 'peer reviewed'
- Indicators that will help you determine if a book or article is scholarly
- The peer review process and finding peer reviewed articles
- Beyond peer review: journal rank and more


A few links to resources mentioned in the presentation: