Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
This research guide will help you get started in your research.
Click the tabs above for more information and please contact us for assistance!
Sociological Abstracts Index to international journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, conference papers, and working papers of sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences, includes the Social Services Abstracts database. Coverage is 1952-present.
ICPSR: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research Social science data repository, management, and curation consortium. The majority of datasets may be downloaded for analysis and data can be uploaded for preservation archiving and sharing. The ICPSR Bibliography of Data-related Literature is an index dating back to 1962, containing over 80,000 citations of works using data from the archive, including journal articles, books, book chapters, government and agency reports, working papers, dissertations, conference papers, and more.
Criminal Justice Abstracts Index to over 600 scholarly journals, magazines, reports, and conference proceedings covering all areas of criminal justice, including forensic sciences, corrections, policing, criminal law and investigation.
Developing a Research Question
1. Select a topic that genuinely interests you. Look at course readings, class notes, Google, Wikipedia, CQ Researcher or Credo Reference for initial ideas.
2. Consider the scope of your topic. If it is too narrow, you might have trouble finding enough information. If it is too broad, you might be overwhelmed with information.
- Think about your assignment prompt while determining the scope of your topic. It is important to consider the size of the assignment and the length of time you have to complete it when thinking about scope.
3. Turn your focused topic into a research question. Know that your research question may change depending on what sorts of resources you find. While you should have a topic or question in mind, allow the sources you find, along with your interests, to help shape and refine your topic further.
Questions to guide the development of your research question:
- Is it focused enough to be covered in my paper or project?
- Is there enough literature available on this topic?
- What is the question that my research is answering?
- Am I genuinely interested in this topic?
- Is my topic going to be new and interesting to my audience?
Brainstorming keywords for your topic will help you refine your topic, find the most information about your topic and save you time by helping you search databases in a more efficient and systematic way.
Why? Different authors will refer to the same concept in different ways. Having a comprehensive list of keywords to search will help you find more information about your topic!
1. Pick out the main ideas in your research question. For example, the main ideas in this research question are in bold: “What effect does illegal immigration have on the U.S. economy?"
2. Take each of your main ideas and brainstorm as many synonyms, related words, acronyms, initialisms, and spelling variants as you can. For example, for U.S.:
- United States
- United States of America
3. Do this for each of your main ideas. Searching all the variants you can come up with will give you a broader selection of relevant information. It might help to make a chart to keep track of which combinations you have searched for.
Ask Us! We're Here to Help
Chat with a Librarian
Use the Chat in the lower right corner of library webpages, from 10am-1pm Monday-Friday during winter session and intersession. Submit questions using the Email a Librarian link outside of those hours.
Ask a Librarian
We will respond to messages within 24-48 hours.
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram