What is Sociology?
Sociology in classical terms often began with polished theories for systems of society covering economics, education, organization, and certainly social stratification, and sought to fit individuals and groups into those patterms and molds. With the advent of statistical methods in the 1930s, and twentieth century field studies resulting in landmark publications such as Arensberg and Kimball's Family and Community in Ireland in 1941 and William F. Whyte's Street Corner Society in 1943, Sociology can be said to have made a phase shift and become radically different in two respects. One was the newly primary importance of data gathered from surveys and extensive field study as essential foundations for sociological theory. And the second was the validation of the informal society being studied as a legitimate form of social organization, worthy of study, measure, and conclusion. Today, classical sociology and more recent theory in statistics and field studies provide measures and concepts; the world provides systems and context for sociological enquiry. Sociology studies people and their behavior in groups from numerous perspectives, including the following areas of specialization:
Background in Sociological Research
2. Why Does the Library Matter in the Study of Sociology?
Good research is a matter of method, not magic. These methods can be learned, and learning them is a particularly important part of the field of sociology. As researchers, sociologists are trained to ask empirical questions about the world and systematically collect the data necessary to answer those questions. In this process, sociologists like all good researchers, rely heavily on research already completed by colleagues in sociology and other fields. To discover what researchers already know about a particular subject, sociologists do "literature reviews" In electronic and on-the-shelf resources, the library provides the framework for research in Sociology
Background for Sociological Research
3. How to Use This Guide
It is especially important to use scholarly indexes and other sources in doing research in sociology, and the sources are listed below in the order that we recommend you use them. Since sociology examines the world around us, many of the observations and concerns of sociology can be found on the open Internet and in general interest and popular publications. Those can be helpful, but the discipline of sociology draws strength and credibility from the scholarly publications in the field.
Translation - to do academic research in sociology, you must use the sources listed on this page, and not rely too heavily on the open Internet or even Google Schlar. Sociofile and the Main Catalog shown on the source bar along the left of the main page are critical. It is also wise always to use the next three sources after those, too, and to choose appropriate sources from the rest of the listing depending on your topic.
Databases are available through the Library Home Page on any computer on the Princeton University campus network or remotely, from anywhere in the world with access to the Internet, via VPN or the Library Proxy Server. (For help with VPN or the Proxy Server, go to the Library Home Page and choose Connect from Off Campus, the top item in the second left listing.) Paper items are found in varioius locations, usually in Firestone,. Check the Main Catalog. Coverage dates given here refer to the date of publication of the article or book, not the time period being studied
Warning: This can be a two or three step operation, unlike the open Internet where you just click on what you want to see and the article or book opens right there. Be sure to use the Find It At PUL button, also called the SXF button, for the technology which does hte looking-up in this process. Most journals are not in electorinc format, but some still must be found in paper. Most books are still in paper only. The actual journal or book in paper format must be found by walkng to the shelves in Firestone or in a departmental library. Use the Call Number Listings and Library Maps posted on each floor to find Firestone materials, and ask the staff for help in departmental libraries such as the Art Library or the Lewis Science Library.. For materials Princeton doesn't own, use the Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan services.
II. Getting Started in Sociological Research
4. The Main Catalog of Princeton University Library.
When you have an exact title of a book or a journal, an author's name which should be entered last name, first name, or a call number, the first search screen works well and intuitively. The subject search on the first page is for the exact and formal Library of Congress term. Plain language often doesn't work here.
But to find a book or overall journal which is about a particular topic, you can enter words in everyday terms on the GUIDED search screen. Be sure to mark "as a phrase" where that is what you mean. When you locate books and journals on a topic using everyday language, you can then click LONG view, and see what the formal Library of Congress terms are for your topic. Double clicking on those terms will bring up other books Princeton holds on this subject. Also, these formal Library of Congress Subject terms can be used in the WorldCat shared catalog of hundreds of libraries. Materials you identify in this way can be requested through Princeton's Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan services.
Getting Started in Sociological Research
5. Remote Access - Proxy Server and VPN
Databases and most journals are available through the Library Home Page on any computer on the Princeton University campus network or remotely, from anywhere in the world with access to the Internet, via the Library Proxy Server or VPN service.. For help with these, go to the Library Home Page, and follow the link under Research Help, "Connecting From Off Campus."
Getting Started in Sociological Research
6. Collection and Subject Home Pages and LibGuides for Sociological Research
Home Pages and LibGuides, which are guides both to the fields and to Princeton's holdings, are found among the Collections and Libraries sections on the Library Home Page, and also in the Research Guides Great strength will be found in both area studies covering various regions of the world, and on subject collections focusing on areas of interest in sociology. The following pages and Guides are especially relevant in Sociology.
ADVANCED searching is recommended and using ABSTRACT or another specific search key. Warning: "Anywhere" searches footnotes as well as description of indexed article. Search Examples for Sociological Abstracts include the following:
8. SocINDEX with Full Text. Subscripton Database.
SocINDEX is a relatively new database, created in 2005. The
great strength of SocINDEX is its coverage of modern sociological and
topics, with lot of full text in related contemporary fields, such as
employment from business, and gender from law. SocNDEX with Full Text
provides, expecially for the
current world, a very useful broad and thorough coverage of both
theoretical and applied work in Sociology and closely related areas.
with some coverage of earlier years provided by the full text of some
journals, and conference papers from 2000 forward. Although coverage
before 2005 is in no way comprehensive, for the current world a
powerful tool.. Non English language articles are included, but
searching by language must be done by hand, for example "Russian LN" to
find materials in the Russian language. Other advanced searches must be
entered as special code, and are detailed below.
Contains mreo than 1.5 million records with subject headings
from a 20,000 term sociological thesaurus.Includes abstracts for 750
core journals with a few which date back as far back as 1895. Also
covered are some 575 related journals, and selected items from another
2,800 journals.Also indexes books, conference papers, and other
non-periodical sources Includes cited references .Includes 10,000
Author Profiles including biographical and bibliographic information.
9. Social Sciences Citation Index - Web of Knowledge
Social Sciences Citation Index , subscription database.
The Social Sciences Citation Index is an index with sweeping coverage of the scholarly journal literature and some few books in the social sciences It is a multidisciplinary database where half of the entries from 1991 forward include abstracts. It has great strength as an author and title index, and for tracing the use of key books and journals in later scholarly research . Coverage begins with items published in 1956.
SSCI indexes 1,700 journals spanning 50 disciplines, as well as covering individually selected relevant items from an additional 3,300 of the world's leading scientific and technical journals. Some 2,800 new articles and 50,000 new cited references are added each week.. SSCI and its companion publications Science Citation Index and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index will be found bundled under the umbrella title Web of Science on the library homepage as will as under its own title.
The great strength of the Social Sciences Citation Index is that it indexes an extremely broad range of articles and books, especially useful in the field of Sociology. Footnotes and bibliographical references are also given for all of them so relationships among scholarly publications can be more easily traced forward in time. Please be mindful that the titles of journal articles in the cited footnotes and bibliographies are NOT given anywhere in the database or the paper form. Also, authors given names are entered as initials only, and are not consistent for any individual person. That is, one article or book may be referenced by the last name only, another by the same author may have one initial, while a third may be entered with two or even three initials. To be more complete, each possible form must be checked.
Some of the disciplines covered include:
10. PAIS - Public Affairs Information Service
PAIS, subscription database.
Recent Search Examples:
IV. Full Text Aggregate Sources
12. JSTOR - Cooperative Full Text Aggregate Journals
JSTOR, the Journal Storage Project, subscription database.
JSTOR can be accessed on the Library Home Page under Articles and Databases. JSTOR can also be searched directly - so long as the search is done from a campus computer, or off-campus using VPN or Proxy server, by going directly to the url http://www.jstor.org.
13. Journals: Commerical Aggregate Sources, subscription databases.
Journals, Reports, Books on the Open Internet. Free databases.
Google Scholar has set a new standard for excellence as a free database on the open Internet by gathering a very broad range of journal articles, books, reports, web pages, conference papers and other materials which are themselves freely available on the open Internet. It also indexes many materials which are not free on the web, but gives them a fairly solid reference, and also provides a live link to local subscription journals. Here at Princeton these can often be located by using the "Find it at PUL" button which appears when Google Scholar is accessed from the Princeton domain. One of the greatest strengths of Google Scholar is its ability to gather a listing of nearly everything that an author has written. It is also strong for obscure topics, For mainstream topics, however, standard databases such as Sociological Abstracts and SocIndex are more useful in finding mateials in a focused way without burying the searcher in "everything including the ktichen stove" searching
Google Scholar, Internet database. Covers books, reports, working papers, journal articles, web pages, and other formats.
Full Text Sources
Newspapers: Aggregate Sources, subscription databases.
Lexis Academic, Factiva, ProQuest Research Library , and ProQuest Historic Newspapers are databases each of which provide access to the full text of hundreds of newspapers, in additioin to journals. Although Princeton's cataloging services are moving as quickly as possible to add all the individual titles in these services to the Main Catalog, that process will take some time, and the contents of these aggregate sources change constantly. Therefore, it is useful to check these services when the full text of a newspaper or journal is wanted.
Some publications are found in several of these sources, such as the Economist of London, while coverage of others is unique to particular databases. For instance, Princeton holds microfilm for the entire run of the following three newspapers. However, electronic access to the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal, and to the historic Washington Post is available only in the following ways. The electronic coverage of newspapers is NOT reliably shown in the Online Catalog; check the Databases for a more complete listing..
Other electronic full text historic newspaper runs include the following. All are in the Proquest Historic Newspapers Collection, and must be searched separately from the more recent runs of these papers when they are still being published.
. When a picture or chart is needed from the "text only" sources above, microfilm copies of the entire New York Tiomes and Wall Street Journal, as they were printed, are available in the Microforms Library on C Level of Firestone Library. Until the film is received, usually six weeks or so from date of publication, paper copies are kept in the Social Science Reference Center and at several other campus locations.
Full Text and Reference Sources
Books - Full Text Aggregate Sources
Electronic Books - Digital Collections, many are subscription databases.
The ability to carry out textual analysis of the full text documents ranging from newspaper to articles, chapters and full books enriches the field of sociology. The Library Home Page E-Books and E-Texts gives a number that are available at Princeton.
However, it is important to note that digital text is a field whose growth is explosive, and difficult to list on a meaningful individual title format in a guide. Check the library home page, and also talk with a reference librarian in your area of interest about new and developing projects not yet represented here
Encyclopedias 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 beautikfully 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, and especially the field of Sociology. The are the following:
Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, editor-in-chief, Edwin R. A. Seligman; associate editor, Alvin Johnson ... New York, The Macmillan company, 1937.
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. David L. Sills, editor. New York, Macmillan, 1968, 19 v. (SXF) and (F) H41.I5
Internationa Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences / editors in chief Neil J. Smelser, Paul B. Baltes. Amsterdam; New York. Elsevier, 2001, 26 v. ill 25 cm.
WIKIPEDIA, The Free Encyclopedia. Open Internet.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which lives on the web, and has thousands of contributors and editors. In the fall of 2009, it contains more than three million articles. 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.
Full Text Sources
Dissertation Abstracts, subscription database.
Dissertation Abstracts is a definitive subject, title, and author index to virtually every American dissertation accepted at an accredited institution since 1861. Selected Masters theses have been included since 1962. Beginning with 1988, dissertations from 50 British universities and Worldwide Dissertations (formerly European Dissertations), are included. Full text is included in .pdf format for all theses for 1997 to the present; there is also full text available for some dissertations for earlier years. It is important to study the file of the first 24 pages before asking for the entire text, which often goes to several hundred pages. Dissertations not available here in full text can be ordered through the Interlibrary Loan button on the Library homepage. Allow extra time for dissertations to come through this process
It is important to understand that searching for the title of a Dissertation in the Online Catalog at Princeton will not provide a link to this database. It must be searched separately..
V. Topical Sources for Sociological Research
17. Biography and Scholarship
The lives of scholars in particular have a great multiplier effect. Through their own work in research, writing, speaking, and teaching, they shape their disciplines and help others to participate in the scholarship of their worlds. In order to gather information about a particular scholar, there are three categories of especially useful tools. These describe the scholar in terms of the following elements.
Biography and Genealogy Master Index, subscription database
Biography Reference Bank, subscription database
Literature Resource Cneter, formerly Contemporary Atuhors - subscription database
Marquis Who's Who, subscription database
American Men and Women of Science (DR) Q141.A47
(In Firestone 's First Floor Trustee Reading Room)
Home page of academic department where scholar teaches.
For example, the departments of Sociology of Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Berkeley, and so on. Often has a link to a highly detailed Curriculum Vitae or personal web page which the scholar has prepared.
Home page of publishers for scholar's books
For example, Princeton University Press, University of California Press, and so on
Books, articles, and other writings of a scholar are often listed within the sources listed under "Life" above. In addition, the following are key databases which can also be searched to identify a scholar's work.:
Main Catalog of Princeton University Library For books
Social Sciences Citaton Index Search by CITED author.
WorldCat. Notice the number of libraries holding a particular book.
Encyclopedia of Sociology, Macmillan - 2000, 2d Ed. [Electroic format.] Also in paper format at: (SSRC) HM425.E5 2000
World of Sociology (SSRC) HM585.W67 2001 .
Without a professional school in Education, Princeton does not collect at a comprehensive level many books in education, education documents or education journals. Therefore it is especially important to use the full text aspect of the two sources listed below to get the text of articles and reports important for your research in Sociology. If you need journal articles and books in education that Princeton does not hold in paper or electronic format, be sure to allow enough time for Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan to acquire them for you.
ERIC, the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resource Information Center database, indexes ksome two thousand digests of education documents, with full text for most. It also contains indexes and abstracts, but not full text, from about a thousand educational and education-related journals. The FIND IT AT PUL (SXF) button in a number of instances will bring up an electronic copy.
Education Full Text indexes some 80 core international periodicals, monographs, and yearbooks, with direct full text for articles in about 40 of those journals. The FIND IT AT PUL (SXF) button in a number of instances will bring up further electronic copies, and Interlibrary Loan can be used to acquire others. Topics include a wide range of contemporary education issues, including government funding, instructional media, multicultural education, religious education, student counseling, competency-based education, and information technology..
Econlit, subscription database.
The flagship database of the American Economics Association, Econlit is important in both Economic Sociology and in creating an economic context for other Sociological research. Econlit indexes and provides many full text links to the worldwide scholarly literature in economics and finance, and is comprehensive in the areas of accounting, capital markets, econometrics, economic forecasting, government regulations, labor economics, monetary theory, urban economics, and spcialized topics such as the economics of agriculture, health systems, indurtrial sectors, and entitlement programs including welfare. It covers some 600 major economics journals and another 600 collective volumes which include essays, proceedings, and so on, and adds each year references to about 2,000 books, 900 dissertations, 2,000 working papers, and numerous book reviews. It is mostly in English, but includes substantial numbers of entries in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and some other languages.
Econlit is not a full text database, but does provide a SFX link to facilitate finding the actual item.
20. Philosophy / Ethics
Philosophy Sources at Princeton
Philosopher's Index, subscription database.
21. History - American History and Life and Historical Absracts
American History and Life - AHAL (U.S. and Canada) and Historical Abstracts - HA (non-U.S. or Canada), subscription databases.
date for AHAL and 1954 to date for HA. By clicking on CHOOSE DATABASE on the search screen for either database, the other can be chosen and the search re-run. Also, both may be searched together, when that would be useful..
Recent search examples:
Measures on Religion.
Journals on a wide range of sociological topics in religion are included in the ATLA Religion Database, including the full text of the entire runs of a core collection of more than fifty significant scholarly periodicals in the field of religion, most of which go back to 1949. ATLAS journals represent a wide selection of Christian traditions (including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, and other religious traditions. Ethical issues are also included. Various databases covering specific religious traditions will be found on the Library HomePage under Databases and Reference Tools. Enter the keyword RELIGION to examine a list of such sources.
Another valuable reseource for the study of the sociology of religion is the library of the Princeton Theological Seminary, located here in Princeton on the southern edge of the University campus. Strong holdings there in Liberation Theology will be of special interest for Latin American topics. Although Princeton Theological Seminary is an independent institution not part of Princeton University, students and faculty of the University have borrowing privileges at the Seminary. Be sure to go during weekday business hours to arrange for the borrowing card necessary there.
A useful new source for numerical data for religion is the World Christian Database,
which is created by a Christian seminary, but thoroughly covers the
entire world and all religions and ethnicities.
This group has done a great deal of field work to provide these data,
which seem solid.
23. Race / Ethnicity
Chicano Database, subscription database.
Ethnic Newswatch, subscription database.
Ethnic Newswatch is a full text database of many ethnic publications in the U.S. covering 1960 to date. Many of these publications will not be found anywhere else. Note that the entire database is focused on ethnic issues, and gender issues within that context. Topics below are found within that context and are for all available years. Also note that a LOCALE can be a strong part of a search in this database, such as Philadelkphia in the example below. However - the locale may be a "false drop" since a locale search for Princeton finds items relating to those teaching at Princeton University or affiiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study, and not be really about matters happening in the community of Princeton.
Recent Search Examples
International Index to Black Periodicals subscription database.
24. Gender and Women's Issues
Gender Studies Database , subscription database.
Gender Studies Database indexes core disciplines and relates them to the latest scholarship in both gender and feminist research. It is especially useful in finding articles from a feminist and other gender perspectives. The time period for the database begins before 1972 and comes up to the present. Subjects which are especially strong are sociology, history, political science, political economy, public policy, international relations, arts, humanities, business and education. The database covers some 800 key sources which include journals, newspapers, newsletters, bulletins, books, book chapters, proceedings, reports, theses, dissertations, NGO studies, important websites & web documents, and grey literature. Over 2,000 periodical sources are represented. Special topics include the following:
VI. Other Formats and the Web for Sociological Research
25 Data for Sociological Anaysis
Other Formats and the Web
26. Maps, Videos, DVDs
Videos, Laserdiscs, and DVDs
Princeton's Video Library includes several thousand videos, DVD's, and laserdiscs. It is located in the Humanitiies Resource Center in 011 East Pyne. Records for these materials are found in the Main Catalog of the University Library with the location symbols LRC or VIDL. Searches for videos can be enhanced in the Main Catalog by using the Guided mode, and then Limiting the search to Video format. The Sociology Selector especially welcomes recommendations for titles relevant to Sociology to be added to the video collections. Send email to email@example.com
Other Formats and the Web
27. Sociology on the Internet
The Web is a wondrous place, full of sources beyond imagination for the study of sociological issues. However, two issues must be kept in mind for successful integration of web sources into serious scholarly work. One is that in the same way that one must be careful to note the authorship and publishers of materials in print or traditional electronic format, the source of Internet materials is very important. And the second is that it is always worthwhile to explore non-net sources, and to be sure that net searches are comprehensive. One good way to do this is talk with subject and reference librarians at Princeton who continue to provide support for scholarly research including the new technologies. Check the list of Subjects and Specialists from the library staff on the library homepage, or found as the entire back page of the Library broadsheet publication Getting Started available at any reference desk. We look forward to working with you.
Internet searching can rely on a number of good search engines.
Page last updated 14 March 2012 in the Princeton University Library.
Comments and suggestions for this page are always welcome and can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org