Sociology 201AResearch Perspectives: Quantitative Methods

Sociology 201A
Research Perspectives: Quantitative Methods

Judy Lee and Lynne Reasoner

Part of the research process entails identifying what others have done before you.  You can be seeking ideas, hypotheses, methodology, techniques, data, hints, or suggestions that could help you in your work.  In addition to gathering information on your topic, your search can help identify where your research falls within the larger scheme of knowledge advancement.


Indexes and abstracts identify journal articles by subject and by author.  Other materials may be included, such as books and papers.  Abstracts will provide a brief summary of the article.  Electronic versions of indexes and abstracts are often referred to as databases.

Develop a search strategy:

Use the topic that you are working on for this course.  Write it in the space below.  Note the key aspects of the topic that you will use to locate information on your topic.  Think of synonyms and related terms that help describe this topic.  Finally, put your search strategy together utilizing "Boolean connectors" and/or other resource specific search techniques (e.g., proximity searching).

Defining the problem:  Your topic




Synonyms for your topic:

Think of synonyms and related terms that help describe the main aspects of your topic.  There might be one, two, or more facets that make up your search strategy.  Use as many lines as you need.









Constructing your search:

Use "Boolean connectors" (AND, OR) to refine your search.

  • OR broadens search results.  Use it for synonyms representing a single aspect in the strategy above.
  • AND narrows search results.  Use it to connect the different aspects in the strategy above .

Getting to the databases:

The major index to journal articles in Sociology and related fields is Sociological Abstracts (1963-present).  To access this database:

  • Go to the Library's Website (
  • Select Databases By Subject (on the left side)
  • Choose Psychology and Social Sciences/Sociology
  • Select Sociological Abstracts

Another resource to consider is Web of Science, which is made up of the Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, and Science Citation Index.  You can search each of the indexes separately, two at once, or all three at once.  In addition to the usual topic searches, unique features of this resource include the cited reference search capability and the ability to trace related material both forward and backward from a citation's publication date. 

To reach this resource, you can a) click on the link in the preceding paragraph, b) find the link from "Databases by Subject" on the left side of the library's web site and selecting "General/Multidisiplinary", c) find the link from "Databases A-Z" on the left side and selecting "W", or d) look down a couple of entries from Sociological Abstracts in the "Psychology and Social Sciences/Sociology" page and selecting Social Science Citation Index.

Links to various guides of the two aforementioned databases can be found here.

Keep in mind the resources for various disciplines, particularly if your research topic might be covered by research in other disciplines, e.g., psychology, education, or political science.  The "Databases by Subject" page is a good place to begin.  Don't forget to see what other research has recently been published in dissertations.  You can also consult with a reference librarian.

     Remote Access (e.g. access from home):

To use electronic resources that the UCR Libraries pay for from home, click on the above link.  Note the Help Desk number and email for connection troubleshooting assistance in addition to following the links on that page.


Data Sets and Statistics

Government Publications:

This department, located at the north end of the first floor of the Rivera Library, is an excellent resource for census data, other social and economic survey data, and statistics.  It is a depository for U.S. and California state government publications and includes documents from local and foreign governments and international organizations.  Ask for assistance at the Government Publications Reference Desk (9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Mon.-Fri.).



Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1878 -  , the first stop for statistical information.  The source of information is always listed below the bottom of the table.  This resource is also available electronically in PDF.  Follow the link from the SCOTTY entry (link at the beginning of this paragraph), or use ( .  [Also available in CD format; ask at the Government Publications reference desk.]

Statistical Indexes

ASI: American Statistics Index   GovPub Ref Z7552 A5 .  Comprehensive index to the statistical publications of the U.S. federal government.

SRI: Statistical Reference Index  GovPub Ref Z7554 U5 S79 .  Selective guide to American statistical publications from private organizations and state governments.

IIS: Index to International Statistics  GovPub Ref Z7551 I55 .  Index to the statistical publications of international intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations' World Health Organization.

Statistics on the Web

The most useful of these sites are:

WebStat: Statistics on the Web   (   " for statistics by topic and country.  The searches produce descriptions of the statistics and links to the data sources."

Statistical Resources on the Web  (    Connects to demographic, social, and economic statistical data on the web.



Census figures are available for geographic areas ranging from the entire United States to a state, a municipality, and smaller.  Besides the basic population and housing data, the decennial census has social data such as marital status, language spoken at home, work disability status, and income.

1990 & 2000 Summary Files

SF1 contains basic demographic (sex, race, and age) and housing summary results from 100% of the Census returns for geographic levels from the entire United States down to the census block.  

SF3 contains sample social and economic population data and sample housing data weighted to represent the total population.  SF3 summary results are for geographic levels down to the census block group.

Summary results for up to 249 racial and ethnic groups are in SF2 (100% data) and SF4 (sample data) for geographic levels ranging from the entire United States down to the census tract. 

Available on the Web as American Factfinder  (  Click on "Data Sets" in the left column.

Available on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM in the Government Publications Computer Room. Ask at the Government Publications Reference Desk.

U.S. Census Bureau website  (   Use "Subjects A to Z".

GeoLytics a UCR acquisition located in the Map Collection, Science Library, combines easy-to-use demographic data with mapping capabilities.  GeoLytics products "...allow exporting of both the data and the geographic boundaries into dbf or ascii formats that can be used in databases, SAS, SPSS, ArcView, MapInfo, and several other common software packages."   Additional information may be found on its website.  For more information about this resource at UCR, check the featured resource section on the UCR Libraries home page.  (Hint:  For additional or past featured resources, click here.) 

Data Libraries and Datasets:

The most useful of these sites are:

Social Science Data on the Net (UC San Diego)  (   Connects to more than 800 sites of social science statistical data, data catalogs, and data libraries and archives.

ICPSR: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research   (   The Consortium provides access to a large archive of computerized social science data.  Since UCR is a member institution, you might wish to take advantage of their service ICPSR Direct, which provides "immediate data access for all campus users"  ( .  Alternatively, you can ask in your department for information about how to order the data sets.  The following publication on using ICPSR Direct, (, was written by Ilona Einowski, data archivist and Director of User Services at the UC Data Archive and Technical Assistance (UC DATA, UCB).

General Social Survey   ( .   The GSS (General Social Survey) is an almost annual "omnibus," personal interview survey of U.S. households conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).  The first survey took place in 1972 and since then more than 38,000 respondents have answered over 3,260 different questions.


Citing Your Sources

Researchers use standard citation formats to identify consulted books, articles, etc., and give credit to their authors.  Always consult your instructor for the format used in your class. See ( for help with the most common formats.  The ASA Style Guide is a resource in the library you can consult.  It is available from ASA (American Sociological Association) for $5 (members) or $10 (nonmembers).  Also available is a web page on ASA Format from CSULA. 


Other General Information

Introduction to UCR Libraries (

How to read a call number (

How to look up Course Reserves (  [Sociology 201A is at  .]

How to borrow materials from other libraries ( and UCR document delivery (

How to avoid plagiarism (

For Further Consultation...
Need Help? Ask a Librarian Chat with a Librarian Ask a Librarian a question via e-mail Reference desk phone numbers

J. Lee and L. Reasoner; 11/04; for Soc 201A,  R. Hanneman

Last modified: 12/16/2014 4:14 PM by J. Mason

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