Doing Research in Social Sciences

Research is an iterative and creative process that allows you to answer a research question.

Doing research - Main steps

- Preparation of your search (Identifying the key concepts in your research question, finding your keywords, and using the search operators).

- Discovery of material (Explore platforms such as our library catalogue, databases, Google Scholar, etc.)

Retrieval of material (Identify books, articles, reports, etc., and evaluate the quality of material found)

- Extraction of useful information (review of the literature)

- Analysis and citation of sources (Zotero)


For more details on the different steps of research in Social Sciences check the following guide: 

Social Sciences - An Introduction to Library Research

What do you need to know before starting?

Some tips to get you started with the right foot

The following are key elements you need to reflect on before starting your searches for the material needed.

They will help you go in the right direction and save time.

Click on the links for more details.

Contact your librarian if you have further questions:

- Understand that information evolves through time (Video) *

- Learn to choose your sources (Video)

- Identify the potential producers of the information needed (experts, governments, institutions, NGOs, IGOs, etc.)

- Not all that is published should be used for or cited in your research paper, evaluate the quality of your sources

- Not all publications are peer-reviewed

- You do not always need only peer-reviewed sources, sometimes you need books and government reports.

- Some sources are only useful for information/exploration/discovery, some sources can be cited in your paper, and some sources should not be used or cited.

- A sheet of paper is an irreplaceable heuristic tool! Use it before running your searches.

- See searching as a strategic exploration **

- Research is a very personal and creative process

*Burkhardt, J. M., MacDonald, M. C., & Rathemacher, A. J. (2010). Teaching information literacy: 50 standards-based exercises for college students (2nd ed). American Library Association.

**ACRL. (2015). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL).

What type of information do you need?

  • General information or in-depth information - try books from the library catalog, you can limit the search to only books using the resource type menu.
  • Scholarly articles – For databases containing articles relevant to your topic, ask yourself « which discipline(s) would discuss my topic »? Go to the research guide for that discipline and look for a tab called « articles » - it will suggest databases that should contain articles relevant to that discipline, and thus to your topic. You can also find a specific journal using our library catalogue journal search tool

If you have questions, please contact your librarian Majela Guzman :

Foster your Information Searching Skills!

Evaluate yourself with this quiz ! The quiz will help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses in terms of library research.

InfoTrack : Training for Information Literacy

InfoTrack is the online training platform in information literacy of the University of Geneva Library (searching for and selecting documents, sharing and using information ethically). What’s innovative about this training is the choice of video as the teaching medium, and that it is structured in independent modules that give you great freedom and flexibility. This training is built as a series of 25 video episodes that illustrate student experiences related to information literacy skills needed to successfully complete work required for your university studies.

Each video is a challenge, because in only 3 minutes it aims to present, and then solve, a common problem faced by students. The goal of these humorous video scenarios is to help students ‘keep calm’ and solve problems they encounter during their academic work.

The modules are divided into five thematic groups matching key steps in the process of completing an academic assignment: Finding Sources, Making a Research Plan, Evaluating Sources, Writing and Communicating, and Avoiding Plagiarism.

Core Skills for Actionable Professional Communication (By Toronto Metropolitan University)  

Michael Dick, Robert Bajko, Rebecca Halliday, Dianne Nubla and Zorianna Zurba

Date Published: 2022

License: CC BY-NC

These five modules teach core professional communication concepts, writing strategies, and social media literacy through professionally produced interactive content and activities developed using a course authoring platform. This content also includes a variety of business communication case studies to meet the specialized needs of business, technical, and other professional communication courses at the post-secondary level. Materials are provided in SCORM format, and each module can be integrated with course shells in any major LMS. The modules are entitled: 1) Guiding the Reader; 2) Strategies and Patterns; 3) Rhetoric and Persuasion; 4) Presentations and Collaboration; and 5) Research Skills and Media Literacies. Topics covered often form part of the core curriculum for introductory applied communication courses taught to students in various programs at Ontario colleges and universities. Materials are provided as OERs under a CC BY-NC licence.

Core Skills for Actionable Professional Communication Modules

Doing research in Social Sciences - Reading suggestions

Research Skills Self-Assessment Tool

What the literature says...writing tips

Mental Health Toolkit

Taking care of yourself and your mental health should always be a priority. This toolkit offers resources to support you during your studies and research.