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Research guide to sources in Sociology

Choosing a topic

1. Choose a topic that interests you (e.g. youth and social media)

2. Think of a specific question you want to answer (e.g. Do young people perceive privacy risks associated with sharing information and photos on social media?)

3. Pick a topic that is manageable. If your topic is too broad, it will be hard to condense it all into one university paper. But if your topic is too narrow, you may have a hard time finding enough scholarly research for your paper.

4. What are the main concepts or keywords to describe your topic? Brainstorm and write a list. HINT: consider reading a short encyclopedia entry to generate ideas for keywords. Search Gale Virtual Reference Library to search across many reference resources at once.

Refer to the helpful videos on the find articles page of this guide for a more in--depth description of these steps.


Check out this incredibly useful video from North Carolina State University on choosing a research topic:

Determine your research needs

What are the best sources of information for this topic? (Books, journal articles, statistics, newspapers, etc.)

Do you need facts and figures, a general review of a topic, or do you want a very specific treatment of a research area?

Books often give a better overview of a topic than a journal article.

Journal Articles are much shorter than books and tend to be more specific in nature.

Which do you need?

Find books, journal articles, and other resources

Using the menu on the left, select the resource you want to find and follow the steps. Please contact me if you have questions and want help!

Liaison Librarian

Eamon Duffy's picture
Eamon Duffy
Humanities and Social Sciences Library
3459, rue McTavish
Montréal (Québec) H3A 0C9

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