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Sociology Research Guide

A guide to sociology research resources and strategies

World Wide Web logo

Searching for and evaluating information found on the Internet is a survival skill students must have in order to succeed.  There are right and wrong ways to search for and use information from the Internet.  Use the tips on this page to guide your research.


Online information generally falls into two categories:

  • Open Web -- Freely available information from websites found using search engines such as Google and Yahoo.  Anyone with Internet access can put any kind of information on the open web.
  • Hidden/Invisible Web -- Information not found by general search engines including the contents of scholarly journals, research studies,and other searchable databases with limited access.

Sites on the Open Web, while easy to find, must be carefully evaluated for things like accuracy, authority, currency, etc.  When your professors indicate that you should not use information from the Internet for your research, they are usually referring to the Open Web.

The library's subscription databases such as EbscoHost, Proquest, and JSTOR are a part of the Hidden Web that is available to Mesa students 24/7.  The articles in these sources are from reputable magazines and journals, many of them scholarly and peer-reviewed.

Google Scholar is a mix of the two.  While anyone can get a list of scholarly resources, most can only be accessed if your school or public library subscribes to the journal or database and you must login with an ID or barcode number.

Consider the numbers for a search for scholarly articles on the health effects of smoking

  • Google search -- 7,520,000 results.  Number that are articles: unknown.  Number that are scholarly: unknown.

  • Google Scholar -- 1,570,000 results.  Number that can be viewed by Mesa students: unknown

  • EbscoHost (library subscription database) -- 351 results using limit to full text and scholarly articles. Number that can be viewed by Mesa students: all


Wikipedia logo with red X

Wikipedia can be a good source for quick lookups and background information but should not be used as a source for academic research.  Because anyone can contribute or edit articles, at any given time articles may not be accurate or unbiased. 

The following statement is from the Wikipedia page "Researching With Wikipedia":

" You should not use Wikipedia by itself for primary research (unless you are writing a paper about Wikipedia)."

Scholarly Literature Online

Shakespeare at a computer

Click on the link below for a tutorial on finding and evaluating scholarly online literature.  (Tutorial produced by the University of California Libraries)

Google Scholar Search

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to search for scholarly literature accessible from libraries worldwide or free on the Internet.

Google Scholar:

  • Gives you access to open/ free access scholarly works published on the open web.
  • Includes journal articles from the Mesa Library's subscription databases.
  • Gives Mesa students access to the full articles at Mesa by logging in with a CSID and last name.
  • Gives information on where to look for the full articles at other libraries (but you will have to go to those libraries to get the full articles)

Google Scholar does not:

  • Include all of a library's journal holdings.
  • Give you access to the full articles at other libraries if you are not affiliated with them.
Google Scholar Search