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Sociology: Film Analysis: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Film Analysis

Conducting your Film Analysis

Use the search words, library databases, and selected sources below to support your analysis of the following film.

Potential Search Words

Potential Search Words

Consider the following themes from the film "The Stanford Prison Experiment"

  • good and evil social aspects
  • violence social aspects
  • cruelty social aspects
  • guards and prisoners
  • authority psychological aspects
  • prisoner abuse
  • prisoner treatment
  • prisons human rights
  • concentration camp guards
  • military interrogation
  • prisoners of war, abuse of
  • torturers
  • Abu Ghraib
  • Iraq War prisoners and prisons


Find Background Info, Books, Articles and Audio Video to Support your Ideas

Why Background Info?

An overview or background info of your broad topic area helps you understand:
  • what the key issues are and how you may want to refine your topic
  • who the stakeholders are (the groups or individuals this topic concerns)
  • context of how your topic relates to the other issues that surround it
  • historical perspective on your topic
  • specialized vocabulary or search words that are used in your field (you will use these words for searches later in your research process)

How? Click on the library databases below and type Broad Search Words relating to your topic, such as: mass incarceration

Next Step?

Click on the next tab above ("Then find books, videos, articles") to dig deeper and focus your search.

Finding Sources

How to find books, videos and articles? 
  1. Click on the Holman Library One Search below and Combine Search Words relating to your topic, such as: mass incarceration racism justice
  2. In the Left-Hand Column of the search results page, Filter your search by...
  • Peer-reviewed give you scholarly analysis or scientific research on a very specific area of your topic
  • Books / Book Chapters... to give you an in-depth analysis of the complexity of your large topic
  • give you facts or up-to-date info on your topic
  • Audio Visual... to provide first-hand accounts of participants or to view the topic from a documentary angle
Searching Online

You can also use Google Scholar or Google Books to find sources:

If you can't find the full text of an article or book (through library databases or through Google Scholar or on the web), you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.  Through this service, you can usually get copies of articles in 3-4 business days and books in 8-10 days.

Example Searches

Look at the the example searches listed below to learn how to better search Holman Library's "One Search" catalog

(Click below to enlarge image)

image of results screen in Primo One Search showing some of the example searches outlined in the text below.

  1. First, you will likely need to perform several searches with different search words


  • search #1 = online dating
  • search #2 = internet dating
  • search #3 = dating websites
  • search #4 = online dating culture
  • search #5 = online dating norms
  • search #6 = "internet daters" attitudes
  1.  Next, filter by "Reference Entries to give you basic background about your topic.
  2. Then filter by different source types - Peer-reviewed, Books and Audio Visual can be helpful types of sources
  3. Results may include online sources AND hardcopy sources available on library shelves

Evaluating Sources

Use the Evaluation Criteria Below to Evaluate the Quality of Your Source.

  • If your source does not satisfy these criteria, you may want to find a different, more reliable source
  • Does the source list a publication or “last updated” date? Where?
  • How current must information for your topic be? Why?
  • Is older, historical info important for your topic? Why?
  • Where do the source’s facts or info come from? How can you tell?
  • Does your source take the time to go through a review or editing process before it is published?  How do you know?
  • What are the author’s or organization’s qualifications, credentials, expertise, affiliations, experience?
  • Is the author an authoritative person or organization? What makes the author “authoritative” for your topic?
  • Why is this info being published? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, persuade, other? How did you determine this?
  • Does the publisher/sponsor have biases?  How did you determine this? Is bias acceptable for your topic?

Using NoodleTools to Cite

Log in or create your free student account with NoodleTools using the link below and easily create and store citations.

Learning More About Citations

Vide the video and information below to learn more about why citing is so important!

To find video segments in the "Contents" area: Click the carrot or the arrow at the bottom of the video player

To find video segments, in the Contents area, click the carrot or the arrow at the bottom of the video player

(click to enlarge image)

image of how the in-text citation goes inside the paper and connects or points readers to the full citation at the end of the paper, in the reference page or works cited page

  1. Place in-text citations in the body of the paper to acknowledge the source of your information.  This is meant to be a shortened version of the full citation that appears on the final page of your paper.
  2. Place full citations for all your sources on the last page entitled References or Works Cited (different citation styles require different titles).  Full citations are meant to provide readers with enough information so that they can locate the source themselves.
  3. APA or MLA are citation styles.  Each has different guidelines for how source information (author, title, year...etc.) should be formatted and punctuated for both in-text citations and for the References or Works Cited pages

Librarians are always available to help you!

View the video below to learn more about how the librarians can help you

Source: "How can a librarian help a student?" by Holman Library GRCC, Standard YouTube license

Contact us:

In Person
Find a librarian on staff at the information desk during the library's open hours. This is the best way to contact us if you are on campus, need immediate assistance or have a lengthy or complicated question. 

By Chat / Instant Message
Chat with a librarian through the library's chat /instant messaging service. We participate in a program where librarians from all over the country can answer questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

By Email
Email a reference librarian with a reference question at This is an alternative to chat IM if you want help from a Green River Community College librarian. Emails will be answered Monday through Friday during normal business hours.

Search Strategies

Search Strategies 

  1. Gather possible search words
    1. use words in your assignment prompts and readings as search words
    2. brainstorm synonyms for search words. Example: hunger = famine, starvation
    3. brainstorm broader search words. Example: a broader search word for "hunger" = food insecurity
    4. brainstorm narrower search words. Example: a narrower search word for "developing countries" = Bangladesh
  2. Strategize: Use different words and different search tools
    1. plan to search in different search tools (try several library databases, the internet..etc.)
    2. in each tool:
  • First, try broad searches, such as: famine
  • Then, combine words to narrow and focus searches, such as famine "third world" "genetically modified foods"

(click on image to enlarge)

image of advanced search page, showing how to combine terms as outlined in the text below the image

  1. Combine search words with AND to narrow your search. Example: hunger AND developing countries
  2. Put quotation marks around words to find phrases. Example: "genetically modified foods"
  3. Use OR to find synonyms for words and concepts. Example: hunger OR famine
  4. Option: Click "full text" to limit results to full text articles
  5. Option: Click "peer-reviewed" or "scholarly" to limit results to scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles

Selected Resources on The Stanford Prison Experiment

Books & eBooks