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Research Methods for Social Sciences

Getting Started

There are 6 steps to getting started with your research

  1. Understand your assignment
  2. Choose a topic
  3. Write a research question
  4. Generate keywords
  5. Find Background information
  6. Begin searching for scholarly sources

To begin, go to the Starting Your Research guide and work through steps 1-4. 

Step 5: Find Background Information.

You need to locate reliable background information in order to

  • Get an idea of what kind of information, generally, is out there on your topic
  • Generate a list of more field-specific search terms and keywords for future searches
  • Find a few good bibliographies that will get you started on the research trail

Here are a few great places to find background information in the Social Sciences:

Don't forget, research is an iterative process.  You'll likely have to continue refining your topic, your search terms, and your resources throughout your Capstone project.

When you are ready for Step 6: Searching for Scholarly Sources, Click Finding Scholarly Sources on the left-menu to begin!

The Library Doesn't Have The Book You Need - Don't worry, we can get it for you!

What is ILL?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service where libraries borrow and lend books, microfilm, DVDs,  journals, magazines, and newspaper articles to other libraries.  Librarians want everyone to be able to access information, so they work together to get the information to the people who need it!  

If you need something that isn't owned by McGill Library, we may be able to borrow it from another library. 

If you have questions about Interlibrary Loan, or have any trouble using the request form or setting up your ILLiad account, please contact John Garrison

Please note that ILL service is not available when the library is closed for Winter Break.  

Interlibrary Loan How-To

Let us know what you need!!  Please read the step-by-step instructions below and contact the library if you have any questions or concerns.

  1. Search WISE to see if we have the item you are looking for.
  2. If you don't see what you need in the first few results, change the result sorting to "Best Match". (see screenshot below)
  3. Click "Request via Interlibrary Loan" on the item in WISE. (see screenshot below)
  4. Fill out the form; please provide your name, Westminster email, and any questions or special requests about your ILL.
    1. Article/book chapter:
      • Look for an email from with instructions to download your article/book chapter when it is ready (usually 1-2 days).
    2. Book/DVD/physical item:
      • Look for an email from when it is ready to be picked up at the library front desk.
  5. Can't find the item you need in WISE? Fill out this form with information about what you need (title, author, etc.) and we'll still get it!