Sociology Research Guide

Choose a topic that is interesting to you and which will work within your assignment's parameters. Usually your research goal is to locate published scholarship (books and journal articles) to read on your topic.

Remember to evaluate the accuracy of your resources, and think critically about their arguments. When in doubt, check with your Sociology instructor.


First, read a good summary of a sociology topic in a sociology encyclopedia, like those listed in the Books section. Second, once you know the basics on your topic, search for more published scholarship, such as books in the CUNY Catalog or other catalogs.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook (Ref. HM585 .A13 2007, 2 vols.)
Excellent starting point for an overview of the current state of research in an area of sociology. Provides ten-page essays, and an extensive reference list for each essay at the end of each volume.
Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (Ref. HM425 .B53 2007, 11 vols.)
Contains the most up-to-date short entries of key terms, and longer essays on large topics.
Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (Ref. HV6017. E53 2001, 4 vols.)
The best resource for examples and short descriptions of deviant behaviors.
Encyclopedia of Social Theory (Ref. HM4215 .E47 2005, 2 vols.)
First place to consult for an authoritative summary of a social theory.
Encyclopedia of Sociology (2001, 2nd edition; Ref. HM17 .E5 1991, 4 vols.)
Standard reference source for short summaries of basic concepts and theories in sociology.
International Encyclopedia of Social Policy (Ref. HN18.3 .I58 2006, 3 vols.)
Provides short entries, and longer essays, on all aspects of the discipline and practice of social policy globally. Covers terms, concepts, entities, practices, theorists, and national policies.
International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Ref. H41 .I58 2001, 26 vols.)
A standard reference work with authoritative essays on all manner of topics in the social sciences.
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Ref. H40 .A2 I5 2008, 9 vols., 2nd edition)
Completely revised edition of the classic encyclopedias (1937, 1968) that set the standard for social science reference resources.
Opposing Viewpoints
Basic information from reference books, magazine and news articles on many social issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, welfare reform.
Social Science Encyclopedia (Ref. H41 .S63 2004, 2 vols., 3rd edition)
A classic dictionary for quick look-up of a definition, theory, or social scientist.
Social Issues in America: An Encyclopedia (Ref. HN57 .S624 2006, 8 vols.)
Contains five to ten page essays on major social issues in the U.S. Each essay contains supporting data, as well as a extensive references, a chronology, a glossary, and a few key documents (primary sources).

Find Books

CUNY Catalog
Search for books at the Queens College libraries, as well as other CUNY libraries.
Library Catalogs
Search the library catalogs of regional libraries such as the Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library, New York University, Columbia University, etc.
New York Public Library
Search CATNYP, the catalog of the research libraries at NYPL. Books at the research libraries are non-circulating and must be consulted on site. NYPL has one of the premier research collections in the country and is open to all New York State residents.
Search for books in the national catalog for the United States and Canada. Includes holdings from libraries in other parts of the world, primarily European or English-speaking.


Articles (Search Databases)

A journal article is written by a scholar or an expert, and provides a detailed analysis of a topic. It is written in the specialized language of a scholarly discipline (such as Sociology). It documents the resources the writer used by providing bibliographic citations such as footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography so a reader can check or repeat the research the scholar has completed.

A scholarly journal is edited by scholars, and any article published in the journal has usually been approved by the author's peers or by referees (other scholars expert in the subject who serve as editors or readers and critique the article before it is accepted for publication). This is why most scholarly journals are referred to as a Peer-Reviewed or Refereed journals. Here is a comparison between popular and scholarly periodicals. Use the following databases to search for journal articles on a topic. You can use other Databases depending what topic you are researching.

Abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, book essays, and dissertations in the field of psychology and related disciplines, such as psychiatry, pharmacology, nursing; covers psychological aspects of the social sciences; includes international publications.
Social Sciences Citation Index
Citations to scholarly journal articles in the social sciences; tracks cited references to determine when journal articles cite other journal articles or books.
Social Sciences Full Text
Abstracts of scholarly journal articles and social commentary magazine articles; citations to book reviews; a former Wilson index.
Abstracts of scholarly journal articles, magazine articles, conference papers, book chapters, and book reviews.
Sociological Abstracts
Abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers; citations to book reviews; includes international publications.


Journals (Browse E-Journals)

Annual Review of Sociology
Full-text of scholarly journal articles which are definitive critical reviews of the recent sociological research literature.
Full-text (cover-to-cover) of 40+ core scholarly journals in sociology; coverage from a journal's first issue until about five years ago.
Sage Sociology
Full-text of scholarly journal articles from 35+ peer-reviewed journals in Sociology.


Data & Statistics

American Factfinder
Searchable data and statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Find Data on the Internet through Web Portals
Selected data organizations and datasets compiled by the University of Missouri Libraries.
General Social Survey
Contains a standard 'core' of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, many of which have remained unchanged since 1972 to facilitate time-trend studies as well as replication of earlier findings. It has tracked the opinions of Americans over the last four decades.
ICPSR: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
Maintains a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences, with sixteen (16) specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields. CUNY is an ICPSR member. CUNY faculty and advanced students engaged in social science research can obtain ICPSR data free of charge. Consult with your sociology instructor first.
Full-text of statistics for local areas of New York City and New York State; covers business, health, immigration, population, etc.; includes data from the 1980, 1990, 2000 census.
Social Explorer
Full-text and full-image of statistics, maps, and reports of U.S. demographic data; the entire U.S. Federal Census, 1790 to 2000.
Statistical Abstract of the U.S. (ProQuest)
Provides a comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organizations of the United States; users can search or browse to retrieve results that can then be narrowed by source, geography, time period, or subject.



Reports, studies, and data are sometimes available from the major scholarly organizations for the study of sociology.


Research Institutes

Reports or studies written by research institutes or non-profit think-tanks can also be useful.


Web Gateways

Continue your search for reports, studies, data, statistics, and information by browsing these sociology web gateways.


Finding Scholarly Journal Articles in Sociological Abstracts

Refworks Tutorial