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Social Sciences: Identifying resources

Subject guide for social science courses: criminology / sociology

Finding tools

Academic databases, e.g. SOCIndex, or search engines, e.g. Google Scholar, are what we call finding tools. They help us find sources of information like books, journal articles or reports, rather than being content in their own right.

Academic databases often have a subject area of interest, e.g. PsycInfo (psychology/psychiatry) but some are very broad in their scope, e.g. Scopus (multidisciplinary). They will all include content from lots of subject related academic journals, but also other content like conference proceedings or articles from non-academic journals like magazines. Tools like EBSCOhost or mySearch allow you to search multiple academic databases all a the same time (or you can select just one).

Internet search engines are popular tools which people use to find content online but they do have limitations, particularly for university studies. Have a look at the section on Google Scholar for more information on the pros and cons of web searching.

Subject resource lists

We have lists of Sociology and Criminology related databases and data sources, with descriptions about coverage, to help you identify relevant material, but they are not exhaustive. Consider looking at some of the other subject guides (depending on topic) and also subject resource lists. Remember that EBSCOhost (see finding journal articles tab) provides a helpful starting point as it searches many databases simultaneously.

Types of sources






Primary, secondary and tertiary sources