Skip to main content

Sociology, Social Work, and Social Welfare

Suggested resources for Introduction to Sociology, Social Work, and Social Welfare classes

How to Evaluate Sources for Credibility

Magazines - Left, Right & Center

Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: A
rticles on politics, science, education, the arts, entertainment and business for a well-educated, politically active audience.

Mother Jones
Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: A
rticles dealing with national news, investigative reporting, commentary, the arts as well as articles on health, the environment and book reviews.

Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: Economics, education, foreign policy, labor, law and other social issues, literature and the arts.

New Republic
Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: Articles in the format of reports and essays, with topics ranging from politics and economics to literature and cinema.

Rolling Stone
Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus:  P
opular culture especially  music and political reporting

Utne Reader: The Best of the Alternative Press
Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and databases
Focus: A
 digest of materials reprinted from alternative and independent media.

(Neutral moving toward left leaning)

Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: A literary magazine covering the arts, the economy, foreign affairspolitical science, and technology. It has had no pay walls via its website since 2008.

Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: A weekly newsmagazine of world politics and current affairs, business, finance and science published in London, England.

Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: News and commentary on developments in the nation and the world.

Pacific Standard
Access: Osterlin print magazines and web
Focus: Public policy, administration, behavioral and social sciences issues.

Time Magazine
Access: Osterlin print magazines, web and  databases
Focus: National and international news, behavior, books, business, cinema, law, education, environment, modern living, music, nation, press, religion, theater, video and world.

Think Tanks - Researching and Influencing Public Policies

What Are Think Tanks?

Think tank is a phrase used to describe organizations (usually non-profit) which conduct public policy research and analysis.
They often publish papers based on their research and make them available for free on their web sites.
Some think tanks are non-partison, but others advocate particular political positions. Be sure to take this into consideration when evaluating their material.

Finding & Using Articles for Credible Information

Most research databases use a special set of terms called Boolean operators to help you narrow your search results to return only the information that is most useful for your chosen topic or research question. Here are the most common ones, with descriptions of how they will affect your search results.

AND - only returns results that contain both search terms

OR - returns any result containing either search term, or a combination of both

NOT - weeds out all results that include a certain search term

* - (wildcard) captures variations of search terms; a search for teach* would return results containing teach, teaches, teaching, teacher, teachers

"" - placing a term in quotes returns only results that include the whole phrase as typed

() - use parentheses to order your operators (which operators should the search engine pay attention to first?)

Putting it Together

Example query: ((bicycl* OR cycl*) AND inventor) NOT racing

This search would return results that include ALL of the following:

1. One or more of the following: a variation of the word bicycle, a variation of the word cycle (e.g. bicycle, bicycling, cycle, cycling, cyclist)

2. The word inventor

3. No instance of the word racing

***Some search engines have different wildcards (like the * described here) or lack them entirely. Also, some search engines, like Google, substitute - minus sign for NOT. Terms like OR, AND are fairly universal, however, as are "" and ().

This video from Peabody Library outlines the key differences between popular and scholarly sources.

This video helps unpack the process behind a "peer-reviewed" article.

Some Other Sources for Credible Information

Although newspapers are considered to be neutral sources of information, be careful of opinion/editorial pieces that are usually persuasive pieces of writing. 

New York Times (left leaning)   

Wall Street Journal  (right leaning)   

Washington Post   

San Francisco Chronicle 

Chronicle of Higher Education

USA Today     

Chicago Tribune     

Daily News (New York)     

Boston Herald   

Boston Globe  

Los Angeles Times

Radio/Web News Sources

Liberal:         MSNBC    CNN    Huffington Post 
Neutral:        BBC       NPR (accused of liberal tendencies)
Conservative: FOX 
Satirical:       The Onion (This is not news.)