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Sociology Research Guide

  • Find Background Info
  • Find Books
  • Find Articles
  • Citing Sources
  • Find Data

Find Background Info

Background sources, such as specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, are an essential piece of the research process. They can help you:

  • Gather information about your topic and understand the scope of the research.
  • Locate reliable sources and to clarify keywords.
  • Pinpoint important authors, texts, ideas, and key words about the research area—knowing what the primary phrases and concepts are will help you a lot as you are searching library databases and online sources.

Credo Reference

Credo Reference is multi-publisher collection of high-quality reference titles covering everything from the arts to astronomy, law to literature, and science to Shakespeare. The collection currently contains over 162 titles taken from 36 different reference publishers and more titles are being added. Available titles also include a range of multimedia options including thousands of high-quality diagrams, photographs, maps and audio files.

Credo Reference offers the following relevant titles and many more:

Find Books

Print and E-Books are valuable sources for academic research. They will help you to gain an overview of your topic and often contain in-depth information about the scholarship or history of research on a subject. Some books are written by single authors, while others include essays or chapters by multiple scholars within a discipline. Don’t let the length of books intimidate you because you don’t need to read them from cover to cover. Look at the table of contents and index to find the sections that are relevant to your work.


WorldCat lets you search for books, articles, videos, and other material that are available in libraries worldwide. If you are doing in-depth research on a topic and are considering requesting resources through InterLibrary Loan, WorldCat can help you discover resources that might not be in the Giovale Library collection.

Search WorldCat

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

InterLibrary Loan is a service where patrons of one library can borrow books and other materials and, access journal articles that are owned by another library.

Search InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

Utah Academic Library Consortium

Giovale Library participates in the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) and Westminster College students have reciprocal circulation privileges at UALC partner libraries. Each UALC library has different circulation policies but all require a current, valid legal photo identification and proof of current enrollment at Westminster. Some libraries may also require other verification methods, so it is recommended that you contact the member library you are interested in using for details.

Search Utah Academic Library Consortium

Popular Titles and Features Texts

  • You May Ask Yourself An Introduction to Thinking Like A Sociologist

    You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like A Sociologist

  • Radical Research Designing, Developing and Writing Research to Make A Difference

    Radical Research: Designing, Developing and Writing Research to Make A Difference

  • Handbook of Feminist Research A Theory and Praxis

    Handbook of Feminist Research: A Theory and Praxis

  • Essentials of Transdisciplinary Research Using Problem-Centered Methodologies

    Essentials of Transdisciplinary Research: Using Problem-Centered Methodologies

  • The Research Imagination An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

    The Research Imagination: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

Find Articles

The Giovale Library provides access to a number of subject databases that you can use to find journal articles on topics within a specific discipline or field of study. The databases listed on this page are those that are most useful for finding research published in the field of Sociology.


SocINDEX with Full Text provides access to full text high literature in the field of sociology. The database features more than 2,066,400 records with subject headings from a 19,750+ term sociological thesaurus designed by subject experts and expert lexicographers.

Search SocINDEX

Sociological Abstracts

This database abstracts and indexes the international literature of sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. Although it is not a full text database, you can request articles via Interlibrary Loan. Sociological Abstracts is not included in Griffin Search.

Search Sociological Abstracts


GriffinSearch is a good starting place if you are looking for books, journal articles, films, and other material available in the library. In addition to searching the Giovale Library catalog for physical materials, GriffinSearch finds ebook and articles from several of our databases.

Search GriffinSearch

Project Muse

Project Muse offers full text coverage of journals and ebooks in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, with a focus on resources published by university presses.

Search Project Muse

Citing Sources

Citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism and shows that you’ve done research to become knowledgeable about your topic. Proper citations allow your readers to track down your sources and helps them understand how your research is connected to the work of others in your field. On this page, you will find guides and tools to help you format citations and you will learn about what constitutes plagiarism.

How to Cite Sources

With all of the many ways that you can plagiarize someone’s work, either accidentally or on purpose, how can you make sure that you’re citing your sources correctly, each and every time? One way is to become familiar with reputable sources that will help you either learn or confirm that how you are citing your source is correct.

PurdueOWL contains writing guides, grammatical rules, and citation help that will assist with many writing projects. The APA Citation Guide are a thorough resource on everything you need to know about APA formatting and style.

Zotero is a free online tool that you can use to collect, organize, and format citations. It is compatible with GriffinSearch and other library databases, allowing you to save citations and articles with just a click of a button. It will also help you to format your bibliography. Visit the Zotero website to find out more, or stop by the library for some help getting started.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work or ideas and try to pass them off as your own. Plagiarism can either be intentional or unintentional, and even the most careful writer could accidentally plagiarize without fully knowing it. For example, did you know that it is plagiarism even if you misattribute a quote to the wrong author? Even if you cited the source and took care to put their name in your biography, if the wrong person received credit for someone else’s work, it can still be considered plagiarism.

There are other, lesser known forms of plagiarism, that are still plagiarism nonetheless:

  • Copy and pasting someone else’s work and turning it in as your own (without citing your source)
  • Using a quote from someone without giving them credit
  • Inadvertently giving the wrong person credit, thereby not giving credit to the correct source
  • Not putting a quotation in quotation marks
  • Changing a few words here and there, but keeping the main ideas of a sentence without giving credit to the original author

And that just includes written works. There are other ways that you might accidentally be plagiarizing images, videos, and music, too:

  • Copying pictures from Google or another website to use without saying where you found the image
  • Using copyrighted music or video clips without permission. This includes playing “cover songs” without permission, too.
  • Making a video that includes copyrighted music or movies playing in the background

Of course, all of these scenarios of potential plagiarism can be avoided by knowing how to properly cite your sources. Just say where you found the image or who wrote the book, and you’ll be fine.

Find Data

You may want to use data sets for your research, below is a list of organizations that allow you to search for data. As always, if you can’t find what you are looking for, contact the Library.

American FactFinder

Provides easy access to Census Bureau services, including: decennial census, community facts, economic census, population estimates and more.

Search American FactFinder


Provides access to the full range of official statistical information produced by more than 100 agencies of the Federal Government. Provide data and trend information on topics such as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more.

Search FedStats

Pew Research Center

A nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Research Center conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research.

Search Pew Research Center

Kids Count

Provides data on the health and wellbeing of children and families in the United States.

Search Kids Count

World Health Organization

Includes data & statistics, reports, country profiles, and fact sheets. Organized by topics and countries.

Search World Health Organization

American Community Survey

Project of the Census Bureau to population samples from local communities in the United States.

Search American Community Survey

Utah Data

Access State of Utah datasets.

Search Utah Data

Get in Touch

Emily Swanson

Emily Swanson

Library Director
Liaison Librarian for Sociology

Librarians are happy to answer questions via email, phone, or in-person.

Contact Emily with a question or to schedule a research help appointment.

Chat with a Librarian

Chat is available 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. weekdays during Fall and Spring semesters.

If a library staff member doesn't respond quickly, they may be helping someone else. Leave your question and email address to receive a reply.