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Research Methods (Sociology), Fall 2016



Most databases don't make it very easy to limit your search to only those articles that are already published literature reviews.  Here are some suggestions for databases to use and ways to limit a search to retrieve literature reviews.  

Key Sociology Database

The following is a list of some of the major databases and indexes relevant to sociology as taught at Southwestern. Many of these databases have direct links to full-text through hyperlinks .  Always check the Online Periodicals page before assuming that the Smith Library Center does not have an electronic version of the source.

The following database is the  most important  for sociology.

Indexes and abstracts over 2500 journals, conference papers, and relevant books and dissertations in sociology and related fields. Includes some popular literature and additional full-text for many (but not all) citations. Provides deep historical coverage for major journals, e.g. American Journal of Sociology is indexed back to 1895.

  If you are looking for already-published literature reviews, try the following:

  • From the Advanced Search Screen, after typing in your (topic) search terms*, type in literature N3 review in a separate search box.  You will get results with the term within 3 words of each other.  The trick is to find words in close  (near) proximity to each other!
  • You can also search for for the keywords"literature review" or "review" in the title.
  • Limit to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals.
  • You can try this approach in all of the EBSCO family of databases, including Academic Search Complete, Relations Abstracts, and more.

Please remember not all topics have review papers already published on them.  You may need to broaden your keywords, by using fewer or less specific terms, to find a review of your subject.

Annual Reviews Series

Don't forget to search review journals -- try Annual Review Series.


Select literature review from the "Methodology" dropdown menu in the "Limit Your Results.'

ProQuest Database-- GenderWatch

Start at Advanced Search, then Type in your (topic) search terms*

Select literature review from the  drop-down menu in the “Document Type" column, just below the search box.

JSTOR and literature reviews

 Use keyword " literature review."  

Finding an article

Many databases and Google Scholar have links directly to an article.

  • If you do not find a direct link, check the WorldCat database to see if the journal is carried either in electronic or print version. Make sure you know the volume, date, and pages you need.
  • Most sociology journals are now available online. Look up the journal title in Periodicals Onlinethen check first for for the correct year; secondly, look to see if you can get a copy from the publisher or a major source like EBSCO or JSTOR.  These are always the most complete.
  • If the library does not have the journal or year you need, you can request the article via GET IT!

Dissecting a Database

  • What is in a database?    What subjects are being covered (subject specific | multidisciplinary )? What type of materials (journals, books, book chapters, dissertations,) are included?  Check "Help."
  • What does it search?  Can you search by keyword, subject, author, title.  What does default search mean?  How do you switch to other types of searching?  Is there a drop-down box for subject searching?
  • How does it search?  Connected by OR (any of the words), or AND (all of the words).  OR will broaden a search; AND will narrow a search.
  • Should I search by keyword or subject?  Start with a keyword search. Keyword allows you to search any word or phrase you can think of, and will look in all fields of the record, yet  many of these items may not be relevant to your search.  Then scroll down, and click on the Subject terms listed for that item to find more sources, which are yielding fewer but more relevant results.
  • Does it search controlled vocabulary?  Most databases offer the option of searching by controlled subject terms .  These terms are collected in an online drop-down thesaurus.
  • What if I can too many results?  Narrow your search by selecting specific dates, language, publication types, SU owned materials and more.  Another quick way is to type more terms in your search box/add more concepts.  Also look at the controlled vocabulary (subject headings) assigned to each record page.