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Sociology Research Basics: Welcome

Learn to research with ease using credible, college-appropriate resources to frame, guide, and inform your projects

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Iris Carroll

Need help now? In addition to our Research Help Drop-In Hours Monday - Saturday, we have online help available. Simply go to the Ask a Librarian page to get immediate help.

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What is Research?

Welcome to this research guide. I hope you'll find it useful as you explore various topics for your research projects.

You've found the right place if you want to learn how to conduct research that will help you craft well thought-out papers in which your points are supported by credible evidence.

Scholarship is a Conversation

Research is not looking up random information

Research is a deliberate, exploratory process you'll engage in to understand your topic fully and to figure out how your specific interest fits into a broader conversation about your topic.

In academic work, this conversation takes place in your sources (i.e., the literature you explore in articles, books, films, videos, images, or websites). In fact, think of your sources as different threads of the conversation. Just like blog comments, each source expresses different ideas, observations, discoveries, or interpretations of the historical problem or question you choose to address.

As you read your sources, try to figure out how they relate to each other:

  • Do they agree;
  • Do they contradict each other;
  • Do they help you understand your issue from a different perspective?

So when you read your sources, think about the story they're telling you and about what they each have to say about that story.

By actively reading your sources as if you're participating in an interesting, complex discussion, when you write your paper, you'll be able to demonstrate to your teacher that you have a deeper understanding of your topic.



Image from Hobbs, Renee. "New Approaches to Information Literacy." ACRL's New Information Literacy Standards, 30 Mar. 2015,