HNRS 226 Course Guide (New York City)
Think broadly as a social scientist, make use of various social science methodologies and literatures, and be dogged in your investigations. As always, remember to evaluate the accuracy of your sources, and think critically about their arguments. When in doubt, check with your Social Science instructor.
The research goal of your literature review is to locate published scholarship (books and journal articles) to read on your topic. When researching a topic dealing with a specific city, such as New York City, keep in mind the following:
- Get a basic understanding of the topic
- If your topic addresses "poverty in New York City", know the theories and debates about poverty in an urban environment in a highly industrialized country.
- Go from the general to the specific
- In essence, proceed conceptually from the general "poverty", to the more specific "poverty in cities in the United States", to the very specific "poverty in New York City".
- Take a flexible approach
- Depending on your topic, you may need to begin by looking at popular articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as any documentation produced by the New York City agency responsible for the issue.
- Use a combination of resources (popular/scholarly, primary/secondary)
- Once you have enough information in general, you may begin a more methodical literature review for scholarly studies.
- If, no scholarly studies exist on your topic in New York City...
- Scholarly studies may exist on the same topic for a different city. They may help you pattern your research:
- Comparison (city to city)
- Research is a process of discovery
- As you learn more about your topic you may find yourself going back and forth, learning from the conversations taking place between the agency, the public, the media, critics, and scholars.
Read a good summary or two of the social issue you are researching. It is important to have some context about the issue before you begin your research. This is especially important when doing research at the local or micro level. Summaries are most easily found in specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, some of which are on the web.
Encyclopedias & Dictionaries
- Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (Ref. HM425 .B53 2007, 11 vols.)
- Gale Virtual Reference Library
- Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues
- Encyclopedia of Social Problems (Ref. HN28 .E55 2008, 2 vols.)
- Encyclopedia of Social Theory (Ref. HM4215 .E47 2005, 2 vols.)
- Encyclopedia of Sociology (2001, 2nd edition; Ref. HM17 .E5 1991, 4 vols.)
- International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Ref. H40 .A2 I5 2008, 9 vols., 2nd edition)
- International Encyclopedia of Social Policy (Ref. HN18.3 .I58 2006, 3 vols.)
- International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Ref. H41 .I58 2001, 26 vols.)
- Opposing Viewpoints
- Social Issues in America: An Encyclopedia (Ref. HN57 .S624 2006, 8 vols.)
- Congressional Research Reports in the Public Domain:
- Index to Current Urban Documents (ICUD)
- New York City Government
- New York State Government
Once you know the basics on your topic, search for more published scholarship, such as books in the CUNY Catalog or other catalogs.
- CUNY Catalog
- Search for books at the Queens College libraries, as well as other CUNY libraries.
- Library Catalogs
- Search the library catalogs of regional libraries such as the Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library, New York University, Columbia University, etc.
- New York Public Library
- Search CATNYP, the catalog of the research libraries at NYPL. Books at the research libraries are non-circulating and must be consulted on site. NYPL has one of the premier research collections in the country and is open to all New York State residents.
- Search for books in the national catalog for the United States and Canada. Includes holdings from libraries in other parts of the world, primarily European or English-speaking.
Newspaper & Magazine Articles
Articles in newspapers and magazines may contain information that is important in furthering your research.
- Ethnic Newswatch
- LexisNexis Academic
- Steps for searching within NYC newspapers:
- Browse Sources
- Publication Type
- Country: United States
- Region: New York
- Topics: General News Sources
- Mark boxes for selections
- OK to continue
- Search a topic
- National Newspapers Premier
- Readers' Guide Full Text Mega
- Research Library
Make spare use of Google Scholar, and if you do so, use Google Advanced Scholar Search. Its citations are largely derived from the library databases we already have. Its links to QC full-text may not appear if you are off-campus. Its seemingly endless coverage (everything is in there!) is also it's downfall:
too-much-material + too-little-organization = too-much-time + too-little-result.
Instead, expect to perform multiple searches in numerous databases. Try including the keywords "New York" or "New York City" (in quotations marks). If that does not work, focus primarily on the social policy you are investigating, and look for its occurrence in other urban or city environments.
Make use of keyword searching as far as it goes, but since keyword searching is often a hit-or-miss proposition, remember to learn the controlled vocabulary of the databases so that you can do subject searching (see Keyword vs. Subject for a refresher). Each database uses standard language to describe its topics. This language is found in the subject field of each citation, and in a glossary, thesaurus, or subject-terms list in the database. Your goal is to perform subject searching because it will more effectively retrieve relevant citations on your topic.
Business & Economics
Health & Environment
- General Science Full Text
- Health Reference Center Academic
- Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
- Science Direct (Elsevier)
- America: History and Life
- Social Sciences Full Text
- Social Services Abstracts (Proquest)
- Sociological Abstracts (Proquest)
- Urban Studies Abstracts
Data & Statistics
- American Factfinder
- Searchable data and statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Full-text of statistics for local areas of New York City and New York State; covers business, health, immigration, population, etc.; includes data from the 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 census.
- Social Explorer
- Full-text and full-image of statistics, maps, and reports of U.S. demographic data; the entire U.S. Federal Census, 1790 to 2000.
Laws of New York
New York is a cosmopolitan city, with organizations devoted to studying its social problems or to advocating for social improvement.
- Bike New York
- CAP4Kids: The Children's Advocacy Project of New York City
- Center for Urban Research (Graduate Center, CUNY)
- Clear Air NY (NYS D.E.P.)
- Community Health Advocates
- Gotham Schools
- Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC)
- Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness
- Mental Health Association of New York City
- New York Civil Liberties Union
- New York Urban League
- NYC Community Cleanup
- Public Art Fund
- Public Health Association of New York City
- Transportation Alternatives