If you discover a book that is not available in the Library, and would be useful for your assignment, dissertation or research, ask the Library to purchase it. We rely on our students and staff to help build up diverse and relevant collections across the social sciences, so please put the details of the book on the book suggestion form
The majority of books are now available in ebook format and can usually be acquired quite quickly. Books can also be purchased in print format if you prefer.
Academic reference sources (dictionaries & encyclopaedias) are important places to start your research, especially if you are new to a topic. They summarise existing research, and are especially useful in helping define terminology and concepts, so help you to get a basic understanding of the subject or idea. Articles in encyclopaedias can also point you towards some of the key literature on a topic.
Online Reference Resources
The Library has online access to The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, a major resource, regularly updated with new content, and an excellent source of information for starting research on almost anything in Sociology:
The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (2007- continually updated)
SpringerLink is a highly useful reference resource. Springer is a major academic publisher in Sociology & related fields, and we have access to reference works in the Humanities & Social Sciences. Some of these encyclopedias are "living reference works" which are regularly updated with new content.
Another very useful resource is Oxford Bibliographies Online, the Library subscribes to the Sociology & Criminology modules. They comprise short articles on a topic, with lists of key readings (the bibliography) included, making them very helpful for research on many topics.
A really useful resource for concepts in social theory is:
Less comprehensive, but still useful, online reference sources include:
SAGE Dictionary of Sociology (2006)
For the social sciences more broadly, consult this excellent resource:
International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed. (Elsevier: 2015)
These encyclopedias may also be helpful:
Encyclopedia of Global Justice / edited by Deen Chatterjee (Springer: 2011)
The Social Science Encyclopedia / edited by Adam & Jessica Kuper (Routledge: 2004)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - highly regarded open access work, useful for social theory & regularly updated
Print Reference Resources
For Sociology, general dictionaries & encyclopaedias are shelved at HM 17 on floor 4. They include The Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology (2007), but note that the online version referred to above is more comprehensive as it includes new & revised articles published on a continuing basis.
After looking at reference material you might want to learn about a topic in a bit more depth, and books are a good starting point, as they are usually more suitable than journal articles for establishing an understanding of a topic.
Academic books come in various flavours and include:
1. Introductory textbooks
These are often referred to on your reading lists and you can find a great selection in the Student Collection on Floor 1, as well as online
2. Short books
These have become popular in recent years, as they are cheaper & faster to publish, often deal with contemporary topics that are appealing to students, and are quicker to read! The Library has purchased all of the Oxford Very Short Introductions series, which cover all subject areas, but there are many other examples available in print or online.
These can be highly useful, as they summarise research across a broad subject area and its subfields. A very useful resource are the Oxford Handbooks in Sociology (also Criminology & Criminal Justice) that the Library has purchased access to. You can cross-search them for the topic you are interested in. Many others are available from publishers including Routledge, SAGE, Wiley, Springer Palgrave, etc. Use "handbook" as a keyword in library search and a few topic keywords to find them
4. Monographs and Edited Collections
Monographs are just scholarly books written by an academics, and are useful if you need to pursue a topic in more depth. Edited collections have chapters written by different authors that relate to the title or theme of the book as a whole, and you might find that selected chapters from edited books are relevant to your topic. Good examples of both can be found through the library search & browsing the shelves.
The library subscribes to a couple of important ebook packages, which you might want to search separately, especially if you are looking for something quite specific:
Oxford Scholarship Online collection of ebooks in Sociology & other subjects.
For 2022/23 we have access to almost all ebooks (as well as most journal content) from two major publishers in the social sciences:
Cambridge University Press on their Cambridge Core platform
Springer on their SpringerLink platform
Individual book titles from these publishers are listed in library search, but searching on the publisher platform enables you to do a more detailed search for specific content.
The library search does include the contents (i.e. chapter details) of some books, but not all. Google Books or Amazon Book Search can be helpful in finding out the contents details of specific books.
Book reviews are a highly useful source of information. Good reviews, written by someone with knowledge of the topic, give accurate information about the author and their research interests, they describe the nature and content of the book, and should also critically assess the contribution of the book and its place in the literature on that topic.
Reviews can help you decide on the relevance and quality of a particular title, and whether you then want to read some or all of the book (or suggest it for purchase if the Library doesn't have a copy). They can also save you time, if you don't have time to read the whole book you can use book reviews to get an idea of the main approach, themes & arguments in the book.
You can find book reviews in journals, newspapers, and specialist publications. Library Search is a good place to start - search for the title of the book you are interested in, and then limit the publication type to "Reviews" to narrow down the results to reviews of that book.
Publications that specialise in publishing book reviews across many subject areas include:
Times Literary Supplement - the Library has access from 2010- (older volumes held in print format)
London Review of Books - the Library has access from 1979-
New York Review of Books - the Library has access through the PressReader database from 22 June 2017- (older volumes held in print format)
Browsing the library shelves is a really good way of finding relevant material, as books on similar topics are shelved together. Sociology books are mostly shelved on floor 4, with reading list books on floor 1 (Student Collection), but you may be interested in other subject areas too. A summary of the classification is given below.
|2-3||D-F||History (including some social history)|
|3||H||61||Philosophy of social sciences|
|62||Social research methods|
|62.9.Q8||Qualitative research methods|
|3||HA||29-33||Quantitative methods. Statistics|
|3||HD||4801-8940||Labour. Employment. Work|
|4||HM||19-23||History of Sociology. Sociologists|
|24-39||Philosophy & theory of Sociology|
|51-73||General works. Sociology textbooks|
|131||Social groups (general). Organisations|
|206||Environmental sociology (see also GE)|
|219||Sociology of religion (see also BL-BX)|
|221-222||Technology. Internet. Cybersociology|
|263-265||Media. Mass communication. Popular culture|
|4||HN||29||Social surveys. Ethnography|
|51-999||Social history by country|
|503-1059||Family. Children. Youth. Marriage. Older people|
|1067-2030||Men. Gender relations. Women. Feminism|
|4||HT||101-485||Urban & rural sociology|
|601-1445||Classes. Slavery. Ethnicity. Race relations|
|4||HV||85-499||Social policy & services (by country)|
|701-1493||Children & older people (welfare)|
|3004-5840||Mental illness (see also RC). Poverty. Alcohol. Drugs|
|7231-9920||Police. Prison. Criminal justice|
|LB||2369-2395||Study skills. Academic writing. Projects. Theses|