Skip to main content
Banner Image Large Banner Image Medium Banner Image Small

HNRS 226 Course Guide: Books, Articles, etc.


This guide will assist you in locating published scholarship (books and journal articles) to read on a topic. Choose a topic that is interesting to you and which will work within your assignment's parameters.

First, read a good summary of the topic in a subject encyclopedia, like those listed below. Second, once you have a basic overview of the topic then search for published scholarship, using catalogs to find scholarly books, and databases to find scholarly journal articles.

Remember to evaluate the accuracy of your resources, and think critically about their content and arguments. When in doubt, check with your social science instructor.


Scholarly Books

CUNY Catalog
Search for scholarly books at the Queens College libraries, as well as other CUNY libraries.
Search for scholarly 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.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries (Reference Books)

Subject encyclopedias and other reference guides can provide good background information on a topic. Many reference books are in printed format, while others are available in electronic resource collections such as:

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Oxford Reference

Newspaper Articles (Search Databases)

Research Overview

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:
  • Approach
  • Argument
  • Methodology
  • Structure
  • 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.

Scholarly Journal Articles (Search Databases)


What is a scholarly journal article?

A scholarly journal article is written by a scholar or an expert, and provides a detailed analysis of a topic. It is written in the specialized language of a scholarly discipline (such as Philosophy). It documents the resources the writer used by providing bibliographic citations such as footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography so a reader can check or repeat the research the scholar has completed.

A scholarly journal is edited by scholars, and any article published in the journal has usually been approved by the author's peers or by referees (other scholars expert in the subject who serve as editors or readers and critique the article before it is accepted for publication). This is why most scholarly journals are referred to as a Peer-Reviewed or Refereed journals. Here is a comparison between popular and scholarly periodicals. There are usually several databases that can be used to search for journal articles on a topic.

Research Librarian

James Mellone's picture
James Mellone
Prof. James Tasato Mellone
Social Sciences Librarian
Rosenthal Library 326

Government Information


New York is a cosmopolitan city, with organizations devoted to studying its social problems or to advocating for social improvement.