UCB Libraries

SOCY 3301: Survey Methods

  • Getting Started
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Data/Demographic Research
  • More Help
Useful Library Resources

  • Library Home Page
    The Library web site links to all of the resources (and much more) mentioned in this guide.
  • Find Articles & Databases
    Use this page to find databases by topic or search across multiple databases on particular categories.
  • Chinook, the library catalog
    While the majority of your research will be conducted in databases, you may want to check out the library catalog to see if there are any books, government reports or anything else that might be able to assist you with your project.
  • Off-Campus Access
    The majority of resources mentioned on this guide are subscription based, but all should be accessible by following the links on this page or from the library catalog. You will be asked for your identikey and password to log in, but if you prefer you can actually use the VPN (described on the page above) to access all the resources as well.
Starting your Research

Think before you search! No matter which search tool you use (databases, Google, etc.), it always helps to have a search strategy. A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need.

Search Strategy Worksheet

Think of alternative words to each of your topics. For example, you might be interested in "undergraduates." Think of a broader term, like "student" or "college student." Or maybe think of a narrower term, such as "Freshman" "Sophomore" "Junior" or "Senior." You can use a thesauri or reference book to help you think of a additional terms.

Need help finding background on a particular topic? Try Reference Universe CU to find a reference entry.

Chinook Classic, advanced search

When searching the catalog, which is an index not full-text it is useful to use a broader search to start. Remember "or" expands your results, where "and" reduces the results. All the links below are in Chinook Classic, if you prefer to use Chinook Plus you need to put an | in place of the OR and remove the "and" between your ().

See this (alcohol abuse ) AND (undergraduates)) versus (alcohol abuse OR alcoholism OR drinking) and (undergraduates OR college students OR university students) to see the difference adding in terms causes.

Some tips on choosing books:

  • Government resources
    When researching wars you will often find materials from the US government in our catalog. Depending on your topic these can contain a wealth of information. Hearings, which will generally contain the word "hearing" after the ":" can be a wealth of information on the rhetoric of opposing sides. Hearings generally invite viewpoints from each side of the argument and contain not only written statements, but also the Q&A between the members of congress and the attendees.
  • Browse by Call Number or Subject Heading
    When searching in Chinook Classic (the link above), you have the ability to browse by call number and subject heading. When you find a book that looks useful you can use both these options to help you see if there are other similar resources in the catalog both in print and online.
Popular vs Scholarly

Popular Scholarly
written by journalists, not experts written by Scholars
can include glossy photos includes works cited
usually includes advertisements journal is peer-reviewed
intended for general audience intended for academic audience

Find Articles & Databases

Depending on your topic you might find it useful to browse the categories on this page. That being said, the best database for this class is:
  • Sociological Abstracts CU
    This database provides an index to the international literature in Sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
    Tips: On the first screen you can limit your results to "peer-reviewed" sources by clicking the check box. To find the full-text of the majority of the titles click the "Find it at CU" icon.
Some tips on choosing articles:
  • Currency
    Peer-reviewed articles take from six months to three years to be published, if you are researching a current topic you are going to find fewer peer-reviewed articles.
  • Using Citations
    Citations can be a very useful tool in two ways when conducting research. If an article has been cited many times, that can help you determine if it is important to the studies in that area. In addition, if you find one article that covers your topic well you can use the citations in that article to find additional information. Google Scholar enables quick checks of citation count and links out to the citations themselves.
  • Evaluating Sources
    Still having trouble determining if a source is credible? Check out the above page for some questions you can ask regarding authors, validity of research and relevance.
Want to know more about the people who might attend your events or participate in your organization? This is called demographic research and this tab will walk you through some sources that may contain information.

Census Data
The U.S. Census Bureau is a great place for all sorts of data on the citizens of the United States. You can find details as varied as the length of their commute, ethnic and racial breakdown, income, marital status, age and sex breakdowns, just to name a few. There are two sources for this data, one free and one that you have access to through the library.

Social Explorer CU
This is the subscription version of the decennial census (back to 1790), American Community Survey (ACS) and religious affiliation data. This tool is very easy to use and gives you the option of creating maps or excel tables.

American Factfinder
This free resource gives you access to all the different data collected by the census. This is not only the census and ACS data, but also includes the Economic Census, Business Patterns, Annual Survey of Manufactures, American Housing Survey and more. This is the powerhouse database, but it is not easiest interface to use, so don't hesitate to contact your librarian for help!


In addition to searching for demographic data from the Census, there are number of sources of polling data. Polling and market research focuses on particular topics, such as people who attend particular events, consume foods, have particular opinions, etc.

iPoll CU
iPoll contains US public opinion data from the comprehensive archives of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

Polling the Nations CU
Polling the nations focuses on a broader international archive of polling data.
Jennie Gerke




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