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Basic Research in Sociology and other Social Sciences

Basic research skills and resources in sociology and other disciplines of the social sciences including evaluating sources, journal articles, statistical information and websites.

Research Strategy Fundamentals

Develop a topic, based on your knowledge or skills, or research:

  • A hypothetical research statement;
  • A question;
  • A phrase

ex.   An investigation of homelessness among African Americans.

2. Ask yourself basic questions about your topic.  The questions may start with;

  • How
  • Why
  • Where
  • When
  • What
  • Who

ex.  What are some circumstances that have lead African Americans toward homelessness?

3. From those questions, develop key words or terms

ex.  homeless, African Americans, poverty, economics, racism

4. Use those terms when searching tools such as Library catalogs, databases, or Google or Google Scholar.

5. You may want to get general, background information on your topic if you know very little about it.

        ex. Encyclopedias, books, reviews of the literature, etc.

6. Finding sources in various formats on your topic

      ex. Electronic sources, printed materials, microforms

7. Current scholarship, including peer-reviewed research on your topic.

Research Methodologies

There are a variety of methods you can adopt for your research strategy, depending on your subject area or the outcome of your research.  Research methodology will differ depending on whether:

  • you are doing an empirical study, using quantitative data or qualitative information
  • If you are seeking very current sources, or
  • historical research
  • critical analysis

Your strategies will be different as will the type of information sources you will seek and find.

See some databases below that offer examples of research methods, datasets or cases:

Qualitative Data Repository


Qualitative Data Repository

QDR selects, ingests, curates, archives, manages, durably preserves, and provides access to digital data used in qualitative and multi-method social inquiry.