Skip to Main Content
NWACC Library

Research Hacked: Psychology and Sociology Topics

This guide accompanies the Academic Literacy Workshop series from Spring 2023.

psychology and sociology topics

Get Started

"The social sciences are a set of academic disciplines that study the behavior of humans as members of societies, as well as the nature and dynamics of social interactions and social relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions that comprise society. The social sciences consist of a very broad and diverse collection of academic fields, including sociology, archaeology and anthropology, history, psychology, economics, business administration, political science, geography, women’s studies, and ethnic studies.

Each of these academic disciplines is highly diverse and specialized in their own right, with scholars often devoting their specific attention and expertise to one or two very specific areas. For example, within sociology, some scholars focus primarily on crime and deviance, while others devote their attention to family life, the educational system, or racial and ethnic relations. Historically, the boundaries between the various social science disciplines was fairly rigid, but in recent decades, these boundaries have blurred considerably in favor of a more interdisciplinary approach in academia that emphasizes collaboration and greater understanding between scholars of different disciplinary training and academic backgrounds."

García, J. D. P. D. (2023). Social science. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

"Sociology can be defined as the scientific study of systematic relationships between human beings and the patterns of social life (Straus, 2002). Sociologists are concerned with patterns of behavior and experiences related to social arrangements. Those arrangements may be considered normal (or normative), or they may be considered outside the norm, or aberrant. Social arrangements, however, are not set in stone. They are created or shaped by social actions, social interactions, and structures (like social institutions) at different levels, such as families, communities, work groups, states, and nations."

Mandel, I., & Howson, A. (2021). Sociological Practice: Applied and Clinical. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

"Despite psychology’s long history and major impact, attempts to define it lack a clear and unified sense. As a result, psychology has been defined in a variety of ways, each with its own particular advantages. Psychology has come to define itself as a science of mind and behavior, but these terms continue to carry the ambiguities of earlier controversies."

Aanstoos, C. M. (2023). Psychology. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health.

Pick Your Search Tools

Discipline Specific

Power Search Tools

Select Your Search Strategies

Exact Phrase

Add Quotation Marks to search for an exact phrase or words in a specific or EXACT order. An exact phrase will return more accurate results because it snaps all of the words together, turning it into a phrase that must be found exactly in that order.

Example: separation anxiety vs. “separation anxiety”

3 Magic Words - AND, OR, NOT



Apply filters to limit your search results. Because they limit your results, filters might also be called limiters. The most common and helpful filters to limit your results are:

  • Date: Limit to the past 5 years, or a specific date range
  • Source Type: Limit to academic/scholarly sources or any other type, such as news or ebooks
  • Peer Review: Limit to scholarly sources that have been peer reviewed


Create a list of keywords associated with your topic.

What else could it be called (synonyms)? What describes it specifically (hyponyms)? What is it related to broadly (hypernyms)?

Topics can be narrowed or broadened depending on the use of search terms.

General:  PTSD

Narrower: PTSD and Veterans

Broader: "mental illness"


Dive Deeper