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ELSJ 9: Social Issues Research

Find Background

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries & Other Reference Sources

Sometimes, at the beginning of a research project, you want to get an overview of the research done on your topic, or you want to find background information to be able to narrow down your topic. 

  • To find an overview of your topic, you may want to start by looking at the articles in various encyclopedias and reference sources in the field of sociology. Many of these sources are now available online. The following ones would be particularly useful learning about social justice issues:

After you connect to the online encyclopedia, enter your topic (prostitution for example) in the Quick Search box and select "Search within this publication".

Social Trends and Indicators USA

Minorities: Race and Ethnicity in America

Encyclopedia of Race and Racism

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family

Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America

Encyclopedia of Aging

Encyclopedia of Sociology

Growing Up:  Issues Affecting American Youth

Growing Old in America

Abortion: an Eternal Social and Moral Issue

Death and Dying: End of Life Controversies

GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender and Queer Culture

Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior

Sports in America: Recreation, Business, Education, and Controversy

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Illicit Drugs, 2009

Crime, Prisons, and Jails

Gun Control:  Restricting Rights or Protecting People?

Social Welfare:  Fighting Poverty and Homelessness

Weight in America:  Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Other Health Risks


To find background information on your topic , you can also use CQ Researcher
This online resource (available from the list of databases on the library home page) covers the most current and controversial issues of the day complete with summaries, background information, insight into all sides of the issues, outlook, bibliographies and more.