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SOC 144 Introduction to Sociology R. Riehm: SOC 144 Project APA Guide

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The JCC Library phone number is 786-2225.

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Project APA Guide: Tips for Developing a Search Strategy

Your project for this class requires you to locate several sources (written by sociologists - tips for identifying these are in the box below) and correctly cite them using APA format.

As you do your searches for books and articles (links to appropriate search tools are located on the tabs above) it is useful to develop a list of words for your searches. Librarians call these "keywords".  To do this:

1.  Think about the main concepts associated with your topic that you have selected from Chapters 3 and 4 from your textbook.  For example, if your  topic is "The Amish tradition of rumspringa and its effect on their children.":

The main concepts are the sub-culture Amish and the specific cultural tradition of rumspringa. 

2.  For each concept, select the best keywords you can think of to describe those concepts. 

In this case you might try: 

  • Amish
  • rumspringa

3. Think of synonyms for those keywords.  Some people refer to rumspringa as "The Wilding" for example.  Depending upon how successful your first search is, you may need to change a keyword or two. 

4. Once you try a search, be flexible.  If you have three keywords and you receive few results, remove the least important word and try again.  In general, each keyword must appear in each result of the search.  So, fewer words will provide additional results, although they will be less focused.  If you received a large number of results you could include a word to limit the search to the outcomes and/or effects of rumspringa.

If you have difficulty locating a book or the articles for your project, please contact me.  My contact information is on this page and I look forward to working with you.

Tips for Establishing the Authority of an Author

  • After determining the author’s name, look for brief biographical information within the information source itself.  For a book, look at both the inside and outside of the book jacket and cover.  You should also look at the introduction of the book as the author may provide some biographical information there.  For an article in a magazine or journal you may find biographical information at the beginning or end of the article.  For scholarly journal research articles, the university or college that the author is affiliated with is usually provided in the article.
  • At this point, the real detective work begins. Try a search on the Internet using the author’s full name in quotation marks. If the author is a faculty member at a college or university you may locate a web page from the institution that provides biographical information and/or the faculty member’s curriculum vitae (an outline of their academic qualifications and accomplishments).
  • If you do not locate information from a college or university, look for other web sites that may provide evidence of the author’s background. They may have a personal web site or you may locate a book review or similar document.
  • You are looking for an indication that the author has academic credentials relating to the field of sociology  (not psychology), meaning they have a master’s degree or Phd.
  • The library’s databases are another good source of information.  Try a search of the author’s full name in quotation marks in the library’s “Search Almost Everything” search interface on our home page. There may be other works in our collections by the same author that may supply the biographical information or there may be articles about the author.
  • Try a search for the author’s name in our sociology databases to see if there are articles they have written there or reviews of their books.

Research Assistance

I check my email and phone messages several times a day during my normal work hours (9:00 am - 5:00 pm EST Monday through Friday).  I also monitor discussion boards in online classes that I participate in, with the goal checking them at least once each work day. 

If you need immediate help after my work day ends, during the weekends, when I am on vacation, or if I am not available when you call, contact the librarian at the Reference Desk, send our reference staff an email, or chat with a librarian online (likely not a JCC librarian, but helpful nonetheless) as outlined on our "Ask a Librarian" web page.

I look forward to working with you.

John