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This classic book on writing a college research paper is easily skimmed or deep enough for the truly obsessed researcher, explains the whole research process from initial questioning, through making an argument, all the way to effectively writing your paper.
This link is to the Google Books preview. But buy a secondhand copy for yourself. It's worth the $8 bucks.
1. State your problem as a question as succinctly as possible.
2. 'Brain dump': Write down what you already know about your topic, including
3. Decide what disciplinary methodologies you plan to use: e.g., sociology, political science, literature, psychology...
4. Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from specialized encyclopedias or other secondary sources. Wikipedia can sometimes be good here, or Google News.
5. Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic from the Library's list of databases by subject. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.
6. Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.
7. Evaluate what you find. Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.
8. Refine Your Search Words - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research words should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.
Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.
Your research will be on the 'big idea' of alternative worlds. But the phrase 'alternative worlds' probably isn't a good search phrase. So, what words should you search with?
Start instead with the title of one of the texts you are writing about: utopia, the dispossessed, etc. Or use the name of the alternative world you are interested in: erewhon, or even the more general terms utopia or distopia.
You will be looking in either the Oskicat catalog, or one of the literary database listed on this page [left column].Read more
Many article databases contain information about articles (citations or abstracts), not the entire text of the article. Once you've used an article database to find articles on your topic, you may need to use this button: in order to locate and read the full text of the article. The UC-eLinks button appears in nearly all the databases available from the UCB Library website.
UC-eLinks will link you to the online full text of an article if UCB has paid for online access; otherwise, UC-eLinks will help you locate a print copy on the shelf in the library. If UCB doesn't own the article in print or online format, UC-eLinks can also help you order a copy from another library.
For more information, watch this video tutorial (about 4 min.)
You can also set up UC-eLinks to work with Google Scholar. For more information, watch this 40-second demo.
Use OskiCat to locate materials related to your topic, including books, government publications, and audio and video recordings, in the libraries of UC Berkeley. OskiCat will show you the location and availability of the items that we own.
Use Melvyl to locate materials related to your topic located at other campuses in the UC system, or worldwide. You can use the Request button to request an item from another library, if we don't own it.
Melvyl has changed as of January 2012, and now includes many more articles. Detailed Melvyl help
Google Books contains millions of scanned books, from libraries and publishers worldwide. You can search the entire text of the books, view previews or "snippets" from books that are still in copyright, and read the full text of out-of-copyright (pre-1923) books. Want to read the entire text of an in-copyright book? Use Google Books' Find in a Library link to locate the book in a UC Berkeley library, or search OskiCat to see if UC Berkeley owns the book.
Why use Google Books?
Library catalogs (like OskiCat) don't search inside books; using a library catalog, you can search only information about the book (title, author, Library of Congress subject headings, etc.). Google Books will let you search inside books, which can be very useful for hard-to-find information. Try it now:
Your instructor wants you to use scholarly [or 'peer reviewed'] sources. What does she mean?
Scholarship is always changing. Try to find the most recent scholarly sources you can.
In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when
This content is part of the Understanding Plagiarism tutorial created by the Indiana University School of Education.
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