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SOC 380 — Urban Sociology - Spring 2009

ATTENTION: This research guide was last modified on February 02, 2009, before the January 2012 redesign of the library's home page. Information on how to access journal articles, databases, and other library resources may be inaccurate or outdated.

For up-to-date instructions on accessing materials, please visit our tutorial pages instead.

Contact Information

Stewart Baker


Getting Started

Basic Library Information

Periodicals and Journals: What's the Difference?

Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH

Off-Campus Access

Useful Books & Ebooks

Useful Databases

Literature Review Tips


Scholarly Internet Research

General Research Tips

Getting Started

Start your research by going to the library home page.

Site Organization:

  • Main - Here you will find the most-used links and information
  • Use the Library - Links to pages which will help you use the library
  • Help - Basic Library Information and Help pages
  • Services & Depts. - Services the library offers and departmental web pages

Checking out books: You can see what books are available in the Torofind Library Catalog. Once you have found the books you want from the shelves on the 3rd or 4th floor, bring them downstairs to the Circulation Counter to check them out. If you are a new student you might need to register first at the Circulation Counter.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the Torofind online catalog.

Library's Book Borrowing Policies

If the library does not have a book you need, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan!

Basic Library Information

Periodicals and Journals: What's the Difference?

A periodical is a paper or electronic publication that is issued on a regular basis (quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, etc.). There are different kinds of periodicals, including popular magazines (Time, Vanity Fair), newspapers (Los Angeles Times), trade magazines (Advertising Age) and scholarly journals.

It is the last of these that you will largely be concerned with when doing assignments throughout your university career.

Why scholarly journals?

Scholarly journals are widely regarded as a reliable source of information on a topic because each article is evaluated both by an editorial board and by experts who are not part of the editorial staff before it is accepted it for publication. This process of evaluation is called the peer review or referee process.

For more information, see our Guide on Periodicals and Peer Reviewed Journals

Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH

You can get journal articles by going to the library home page and clicking the Journal Articles & Electronic Resources link under the "Find Journal Articles Now" heading. Click the heading that sounds the most like your situation.

Once you are in a database, you can start to search for your article. All databases' search options are slightly different, but they usually include several search boxes you can fill out. Most databases will also let you search only for peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. For your research papers, you will want to make sure you check this option!

Articles which you can read in that database will have a link to the PDF full text or the HTML full text. Click on that text link to read the article. Some databases also let you e-mail yourself the files by clicking on an e-mail link.

Some articles will say "Check Availability of Complete Article" instead of having links to the full text. If you see this, it means the text of that article is not in the database you are searching. But don't worry! By clicking the link which says this, you can see a list of which databases do have the full text. If there are no databases containing the article you want, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan.

Off-Campus Access

If you are using a computer that is on campus, you can access all of our electronic databases and ebooks without any further steps. Just click on the database name in the Database List and you will be sent immediately to the search screen.

If you are off campus, you will need to log in using your last name and student ID number. Your student ID number is located on the front of your student ID card. It is not your social security number! When you click on a database name from off-campus, you will see a screen asking you for this information.

After you enter your last name and ID number, you will be able to access any of our electronic databases and ebooks just like you would on campus.

Useful Books & Ebooks

There are plenty of books in the library relating to Urbanism and Urban Studies. Try the following search in the library's online catalog and you will see a list of books on urban studies.

  • Go to the library's online catalog
  • In the drop-down menu to the left, select "Subject - Subject Words"
  • In the text area to the right, type in Cities and Towns (this is what our catalog calls "Urbanism")
  • For a list of other similar subjects, click the  Cities And Towns -- 24 Related Subjects link
  • For a list of general Multicultural Studies books, click the Cities And Towns link
  • Once you have a list of books on the screen, you can sort your results with the drop-down menu at the right.
  • Select "Sort by year - newest to oldest" to see a list of books with the most recent books first.

The library also has several collections of ebooks: books that have been scanned in and which you can access from home using the library website. The main collection of ebooks is called ebrary. You can find it by clicking the "Find Journal Articles Now" header on the main library page, then selecting "E" for ebrary.

Ebrary does require you to download and install their software before you can read books on their site. The computers in the library already have this software installed, but at home you will have to install it yourself before you can read any of the ebooks they have.

Links to useful ebooks:

To find more, log in to ebrary and do a subject search for Urbanism

Useful Databases
  • Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) - Academic Search Premier is the world's largest scholarly, multi-discipline, full text database designed specifically for academic institutions. With the most valuable and most numerous collection of peer-reviewed full text journals, Academic Search Premier offers critical information from many sources found in no other database. This resource contains full text for nearly 3,200 scholarly publications.
  • JSTOR - JSTOR, a project initiated by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, is a continuously growing and updated electronic retrospective archive of a continuously growing archive of over 330 scholarly journals. Articles are available in full text, digitized, from the first issue of the journal to the most current one to five year "moving wall."
  • Humanities Full Text (Wilson) - Humanities Full Text is a bibliographic database that cites articles from English-language periodicals, plus the full text of selected periodicals. Subjects covered include Archaeology, Area Studies, Art, Classical Studies, Communications, Dance, Film, Folklore, Gender Studies, History, Journalism, Linguistics, Literary & Social Criticism Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Religion and Theology.
  • Project Muse - Currently, Project MUSEŽ offers nearly 200 quality journal titles from some 30 scholarly publishers. As one of the the academic community's primary electronic periodicals resources, Project MUSE covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others. Project MUSE is setting the standard for scholarly electronic journals in the humanities and social sciences
  • Sage Journals Online - SAGE Publications publishes over 460 journals in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, Technology and Medicine.

Literature Review Tips

Selecting a topic - When choosing a topic, make sure your scope is not too broad or too narrow. Too broad of a scope will give you far too many search results, which will make it hard to pick out useful articles. It will also mean that your paper will not be very effective, as it will be too vague. Too narrow a scope will make it difficult to find relevant articles, and will mean that your paper will be too specific to be effective. Try to define your topic succinctly and make sure that you can find information about it before you start to write your paper!

  • Too Broad - Multiculturalism
  • Too Narrow - The Multicultural nature of president Obama's administration in regards to female first-generation philipino immigrants under the age of 18
  • Neither too Broad or too Narrow - Multiculturalism in the Obama administration

Doing the Research - Check the other sections of this guide for information on where to start researching your topic. For tips on how to research, see the "General Research Tips" section of the guide towards the bottom.

Writing the Review - After you have all your research done, create a basic outline of how you want to present the literature you've researched. This will really help to make sure your paper flows from one subject to another. It can also help you see whether you need to do more research or whether you have enough material. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write! Starting on the day before the paper isn't a good idea, as it can make your work rushed and not as effective.

Cite your Sources - Be sure to properly cite anything you quote from books or articles! Citing lets your professor know that you've done your research, and it also stops you from accidentally committing plagiarism. For more information on citations and plagiarism, read those sections of this guide below.

Proof-reading the Paper - Proof-reading is an important step, and one that could mean the difference between an average grade and an excellent one. Check for spelling or grammar errors and make sure you are using the APA and AP styles correctly. Go back over the assignment description in your syllabus and make sure your paper has evreything in it that your professor wants. Proof-reading is another reason to start early: It's hard to proof-read effectively when you finish writing the paper 10 minutes before class starts!


What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (OED)

In essence, when you quote or paraphrase from somebody else's work without citing it, you are plagiarizing their work. Plagiarism is a serious matter, and could result in a lower or failing grade and even in your expulsion from university. Just rewording your work isn't enough to avoid plagiarism. Since you are still borrowing information heavily from another writer, you still need to include a citation.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and it's just as serious a problem if you do.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by always citing your sources. Whenever you put a quotation or borrow information heavily from a source, be sure you include a citation in the proper APA style. This will let your professor know you aren't trying to pass the idea off as your own. Taking detailed notes on where you get your information helps a lot with this, since it prevents you from forgetting which is your own work and which is borrowed from others.

For more information, see your student handbook and this handout by Sheela Pawar at CSUDH

Scholarly Internet Research

Remember, not all web sites are created equally. Some sites can be valid sources of information, but others are filled with opinion represented as fact. While there isn't a 100% effective way to figure out what kind of site you're looking at, here are some guidelines to follow when using the internet for research:

  • Check Credibility - Is it easy to figure out who's behind the information? Does whomever it is know what they're talking about? Do they have qualifications in the field or some other reason to be trust-worthy in it?
  • Check Accuracy - Are the sources cited well? Is the information up-to-date? Are there any broad, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to verify?
  • Check Reasonableness - What is the page's point-of-view? Is it a corporate page trying to sell you a product? Is it a government or educational site where the main purpose is to educate people?
  • Check Support - Is it possible to double-check the information in another location?

Useful Scholarly Websites

INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.

The Librarians' Internet Index aims to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected websites, serving California, the nation, and the world. All links on the Index are selected and approved by librarians before inclusion.

For more information, check out our guide on Evaluating Web Resources

General Research Tips

Use multiple search terms - Remember, not every database or article uses exactly the same words to describe the same thing. Make sure you try several synonyms for the term you're trying to find. Most databases have a link titled "thesaurus" or "subject terms" which you can use to find out what words to search for.

Search in multiple places - The more places you look for information, the more information you're likely to find. Don't just search in one database and assume it's all you'll be able to find! Take a look at the list of Useful Databases earlier on in this page for where to start your search.

Ask for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help! Research can be an exhausting process, and sometimes a fresh perspective will make your task immensely easier. You can stop by the reference desk in the library and ask any of the reference librarians for help with your research. You can also submit an online help request which a librarian will answer within a day or two.

Don't leave it until the last minute - The earlier you start, the better your paper will be. Starting early gives you plenty of time to read and absorb the information so that you'll be properly informed when writing your paper.