Doing Research in Sociology in the Princeton University Library
Encyclopedias of the Social Sciences 

Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (1937)
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1968)
International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001)
Encyclopedia Britannica - [Online - Frequent Updates]
Wikipedia - [Online - Frequent Updates]

Encyclopedias are a critical tool in the study of Sociology. Ones dealing with particular topics within Sociology can be located here at Princeton by going to the Main Catalog, using the GUIDED search, putting Encyclopedia? Encyclopaedia? in one box, clicking Any of These, and then entering the topic term (s)in the second box. It may be useful to search for these in TITLE, or just in the default KEYWORD.

But the overall field of Sociology is beautifully dealt with in a series of Encyclopedias published by the broad scholarly community over the last century. Beginning in 1937, each generation of scholars has documented what the Social Sciences mean in the scholarly world of that time. Today, each of these three is a critical source for understanding how that world understood the social sciences, including the field of Sociology. They are the following:

•  Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences [1937] , editor-in-chief, Edwin R. A. Seligman; associate editor, Alvin Johnson ... New York, The Macmillan company, 1937. 15 v. in 8. 28 cm.
Princeton Locaton: Firestone First Floor- Trustee Reading Room (DR) H41 .E56 v. 1-8
Orig Pub 1930-1935 in 15 v., (F) and (Recap): H41 .E56
Not Available in Electronic Format.

•  International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences [1968], David L. Sills, ed. New York, Macmillan, 1968. 19 v.
Princeton Location: Firestone First Floor - Trustee Reading Room (DR) H41.I5 (SXF)
Also Electronic Edition - To connect search title in Library Main Catalog..

•  Internationa Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences [2001], editors in chief Neil J. Smelser, Paul B. Baltes. Amsterdam; New York. Elsevier, 2001.26 v. ill 25 cm.
Princeton Location: Firestone First Floor - Trustee Reading Room (DR) H41 .I58 2001.
Also Electronic Edition - To connect search title in Library Main Catalog.

Other Encyclopedias Useful in the Social Sciences

Another type of encyclopedia is one which lives online, and has frequent and ongoing updates.

•  Encyclopedia Britannica online [licensed electronic resource] Chicago, IL Birtannica Online, 1994 - [frequent updates]. To connect search title in Library Main Catalog.
Encyclopedia Britannica
is arguably the most respected general scholarly English language encyclopedia in the world. From the first three volume edition in 1771, through today's fifteenth ediion, this venerable title has set the standard for encyclopedias, and in many ways by example for scholarly writing. It is solid, succinct, well researched, well documented, and kept up to date by some 100 scholars who are also professional writers. Long live Encyclopedia Britannica.

WIKIPEDIA, The Free Encyclopedia. Open Internet.

Sociology is the scientific study of society.  It is a social science which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directlyto social policy and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges fromthe micro level of individualagnecy and interacton to the macro level of systems andthe social structure.
Wikipedia - Topic Sociology, viewed January 2012.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which lives on the web, and has thousands of contributors and editors. In the spring of 2012, it contains almost four million articles in English alone. It is a "people's source" in both the best and the worse senses of that term. It can be a great place to check a spelling of an obscure term, or to look for a date or a ready summary statement on just about anything. Since it can be and is written by anyone interested in the topic, it does not carry the weight of authority that comes from a standard encyclopedia where articles are signed by well known scholars who are authorities in the particluar field. Wikipedia does contain many source notes, some of them to other articles on its own site; but also some that are in standard sources, as would be the case in a good standard encyclopedia. Wikipedia can be a good place to check into, but is not usually considered suitable as a reference in a scholarly publication or other academic environment.


Page last updated  24 January 2012 in the Princeton University Library.