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Sociology and Politics

Researching your topic

The aim of this tab is to give you step by step guidance on how to;

  • develop your search strategy for your work
  • Iearn how to identify keywords and their alternatives
  • start to think about evaluating your resources and how you reference them

Identifying keywords

Never type your whole assignment question into a search, instead try to identify the main concepts or keywords, and search for those instead. This short video explains why and how: 

Alternative search terms

You don't want to miss out on relevant research that may have used slightly different words or terminology to your assignment question, so it is a good idea to try to think of alternative ways of expressing your main concepts or keywords. This short video explains how: 

Combining search terms

The little words that you use to connect your different search terms have a huge impact on your search results. This short video explains the differences between using: AND, OR and NOT

So you can use OR to link alternative terms for the same concept, e.g.: 

  • e-banking OR "internet banking" OR "online banking"

(Note: putting quotation marks "" around the words treats them as a phrase, so the words have to appear next to each other and in that order)

And you can use AND to link the different concepts, e.g.: 

  • "internet banking" AND security AND China

You can also use the truncation character (usually: *)  to capture multiple endings of a word (e.g. secur* would find secure, security, secured ... etc.)

And you can combine all of these techniques together, also using brackets, to build a more complex search string, e.g.: 

  • (e-banking OR "internet banking OR "online banking") AND (secur* OR safe* OR trust*) AND (China OR chinese OR Asia* OR emerging markets)

Using Library Search to find books and journal articles

Library Search is the best place to begin your search for academic textbooks and journal articles. This short video shows you how: 

You can access Library Search here:

Activity: use Library Search to search for: Corporate Social Responsibility

Try using the Refine my results options on the left of the screen to filter your results to: 

  • Books / eBooks and Online
  • Peer-reviewed journals *
  • AV - Videos

*  if you're not sure what peer-reviewed journals are, have a look at the next section on "How to use journal literature in your research"

Evaluating what you've found

It is important to critically evaluate the resources you find, before you use them. The criteria will vary but common ones to consider are;

  • the authority and credibility of the source
  • the relevance of the source material
  • the age of the source

It is particularly important to evaluate website information such as newspapers, blogs etc., bias in reporting needs to be considered before using the resource in your work.  Fake news is also becoming a more frequent problem on social media.

Growing your Research

The short video looks at how one journal article can lead to a range of further information by using Pearl Growing and Citation searching options.  By looking at the references of a relevant journal and other research carried out by the academics, you can quickly increase the amount of research you have to evaluate.


Have a look at our interactive guide, by clicking on the link below, and learn about:

  • why we reference
  • what you should reference
  • how you should reference in APA.

Click here to launch the online resource

You can find further help with Referencing here:

Further help and support

You can find more information about the Library's services here:

You can find further help with using Library Search here:

You can find further help with Referencing here:

You can find out more about how the Skills Centre can help you develop your academic study skills here:

You can contact the Library for help and support here: