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General research guide for the field of Sociology

Bibliographies, Literature Reviews, and Reference Books :: Like Asking an Expert

The tools and tips on this page are for when you've searched in the databases and catalogs and you either can't find anything on your topic or there is way, way too much and no clear way to narrow it down. 

Too Much: use literature reviews and bibliographies like asking an expert to summarize the research in a given area then point out to you the works most relevant to your work. They can help you understand the contribution of an unfamiliar area of research or theory to your topic and direct you to influential and relevant scholarship.

Too Little: when you can find no research on a topic, usually the best next step is to broaden your search. Trouble is, when you are new to an area of research, it can be hard to know into what categories your work fits. Complicating the matter, once you broaden your approach, things can get overwhelming quickly. Unlike journal articles, reference books and literature reviews can be found on very broad concepts, which can be read quickly and suggest new paths to try. 

Of course, you can always contact Kristin to talk through these questions!

Bibliography and Literature Review

Annotated bibliographies and literature reviews written by recognized experts are incredibly helpful for understanding a body of literature that you cannot possibly have read yet as an undergraduate. Use these to help understand the context into which your topic fits. 

Selected Reference Titles

Encyclopedias and other general reference titles are used to get an overview of a topic written by a specialist, find related terms that will apply to your topic, or identify a selected bibliography.

Specialized Reference Books

Reference books are not always scoped to entire disciplines or subdisciplines. They can also pull together research on specific topics like these:

Companions, Handbooks, Anthologies

How do you find such books on your topic of interest? I'm so glad you asked. See this