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Syracuse University Libraries

Basic Research Strategies for the Social Sciences

Basic research skills and resources in psychology, sociology and other disciplines of the social sciences. Research skills include: evaluating sources,finding and identifying journal articles, statistical information and websites.

Research Strategy Fundamentals

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

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

ex. "The Role of Social Media Feminism in #MeToo". 

2.Write what you know about the topic
   
What have you learned or read so far about the #Me Too movement or about feminism in social media?

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

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

ex.  What are some ways that the #Me Too movement and social media are giving voice and agency to women of color?

4.  From those questions, develop key words or terms

ex.  Feminism, social media, #Me Too, women, domestic violence, sexual harassment, women of color

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

6. 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.

7. Finding sources in various formats on your topic

      ex. Electronic sources, printed materials, microforms

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

Search Strategies Tips

Databases typically include a help page with search strategies.  Examples include:

​*ProQuest and EBSCO guides/tutorials about Boolean operators: 

*EBSCO’s “Using Wildcards and Truncation” page

Some databases have thesaurus or subject heading features for identifying additional, related, broader, narrower terms, or terms that match the current terminology in the database that reflects the research literature concepts/phrases.  Examples of this include:

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) Browser--2018 

ERIC Thesaurus

PsycINFO Thesaurus

Using the Constructing a Search worksheet below may be helpful to map concepts and potential searches prior to starting the search in a database.

Constructing a Search worksheet