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Demography: Quick start

Resources for research in demography


"With their careful attention to issues of measurement and data and their orientation to aggregate-level processes, [demographers] have provided valuable insights into many important issues." - Samuel Preston

This introduction offers sources and tips for navigating the library's range of materials in demography, the scientific study of population.  Demography is and demographic methods are inherently interdisciplinary, so if you're struggling to find something, you might also want to check out the guides for sociology, GIS (geographic information systems), population health or economics--or contact your librarian! 

Quick Links

Don't have much time and need to get started quickly?

1. Search our library catalog to find books, ebooks, and DVDs in the library.

2. Search Sociological Abstracts, ProQuest Social Sciences, or PubMed (depending on your focus) for articles and book reviews. (The foremost population studies database, POPLINE, ended its service on 1 September 2019).

3. Search Web of Science and Scopus to find book chapters.

4. Search for your topic + "social aspects," "sociological aspects," or "sociology of" on Google Scholar.

5. If you find a key article, type the title on Google Scholar and click "cited by" to see who else is using that work.

6. Come visit one of the many campus libraries to study, or email the librarian to talk about your research!

UC Library Search (short version)

 UC Library Search infographic about what is included

UC Library Search is the University of California's unified discovery and borrowing system.

Access it directly or from the Library homepage to find most UC books, articles, media, archival collections, and more.

See the UC Library Search User Guide and ask for research help 24/7 for more information.

Search Tips

1. Have a question, or a fuzzy idea. What social and cultural factors influence decisions about desired family size?  is a good example of a starting question. You may find yourself refining or adjusting your question later--that's all part of the process!

2. Browse encyclopedias or Wikipedia to get a quick overview, or search a general database like Academic Search Complete  and read an article or two to learn what’s out there on your topic.

3. Come up with a list of words to search in our demography databases.  Don't be afraid to search for related topics like number of siblings, completed fertility, childbearing goals, etc.  Synonyms are your friends!

4. Know how Google Scholar + library catalogs and databases work, and try each one for a major project.

  • Use an asterisk: fami* gives you results for fami-lies, famil-ly, fami-lial, etc. (also for famine!)
  • Try all spellings if applicable (labor and labour)
  • Use related terms for topics or people groups: young OR pre-adult OR teen mothers
  • Switch it up and keep searching. Like a puzzle app, it can take a while to unlock what you're looking for!

5. Download and read a few related articles. Their mention of other articles will give you ideas for other resources.

6. You probably won't find the perfect article. No one else is going to make your argument for you in a single article. Instead, you'll need to combine ideas from other authors on related topics or cultures to make your own argument for how populations are the way they are. That's demography!

7. Get help. Use the 20-minute rule. If you're still struggling after 20 minutes of searching, email a librarian for an appointment.

Contact Your Librarian

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Ann Glusker
Social Research Library
227 Haviland Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000