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Library Subject Guides

Sociology | Mātauranga Hapori: Assignment Research

Assignment research for Sociology: a guide

This step-by-step guide provides a guide to finding information for your assignment.


We're here to help

If you would like individual assitance with finding information for your assignment please contact the Sociology Librarian.

See also: Using the Library (online tutorials and workshops from UC Library)

Define your topic and develop your search strategy

Before you start, spend five minutes making a mind-map or list to brainstorm all of the words and concepts around your chosen topic, including synonyms and related concepts. This process will help you:

1. Clarify your topic
2. Break it into component parts or themes 
3. Identify key words to use in your searches.

To do a really effective search you will need to consider what words a variety of authors writing about your topic might use.  Consider:

Synonyms or related words e.g.
adolescents / teenagers / youth  
wellbeing / health 
multinational corporation / transnational corporation

Different spellings
You may need to search for both British and American spellings of words. 

Different endings to words/plurals
You may need to search for different word endings, e.g. violence, violent.  On some databases you can use an asterisk (*) at the end of the word stem to find different endings, e.g. violen* to find violence or violent. 

Experiment with combinations of search words to find a good range of articles on your topic.

Gather background information

The Library has subject dictionaries and encyclopedias that are excellent sources for definitions of sociological concepts, explanations of sociological theories and overviews of areas of sociological study.

Check Learn for recommended reading. 


Find books

Check Learn for recommended reading. To find other material search the UC Library catalogue or MultiSearch:

To search MultiSearch:

  • Type your search words into the MultiSearch box
  • If you know the title or author, search using the author's lastname and a few words of the title.
  • Use the limits on the left of the results screen to limit to books/ebooks or journal articles
  • For academic journal articles, tick the 'scholarly & peer-reviewed' limit along with 'journal articles'

Other tips for finding books:

  • Check for books held in the High Demand Collection using the Course code search on the Library Catalogue.
  • Follow up on references in recommended reading.  
  • Browse the library shelves in the classification sequence for Sociology. 


Find journal articles

Use journals to find the latest academic research and analysis of a topic. Search a database to find articles on your topic. Use MultiSearch to search across all books and journal articles available via the Library.  Google Scholar is useful for finding journal articles on any topic and cited references (articles that cite another article).


Evaluate your sources

References on Learn have already been evaluated for quality. You will need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information will contribute to the quality of your assignment.

More on evaluating your sources

Cite your sources

Avoid plagiarism by citing all the sources of information you use in your essay. Most sociology courses require you to use either the Harvard or APA citation style.


Write your assignment

See the Writing Guides page for books that have useful tips for writing about Sociology topics. Academic Skills Centre offer courses and advice on academic writing.