ISF 189: Thesis Prep

Questions? That's my job.

  • Lynn Jones

  •  

  • Office Hours: by appointment
  • Office Location: 212 Doe Library
  • Contact Info:

    510 768-7643

About this Guide

Course fuide for Professor Bhandari's Thesis Prep Class

The Craft of Research [book]

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.

The Research Process

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.  

 

Library Workshop: Research 101

Unsure how to start a paper or research project? Think maybe you could stand to brush up ostudent with laptopn search strategies?

If this sounds familiar, Library Workshop: Research 101 has you covered. This interactive tutorial explores six stages of the research process. You can view it from start to finish, or focus on specific sections as needed:

1: Begin Your Research

Starting strategies, from choosing a topic to finding the right keywords.

2: Knowledge Cycle

The publication timeline, scholarly vs. popular sources, and differences in academic disciplines.

3: Finding Books

Search for books and other items in OskiCat, Cal's local library catalog.

4: Finding Articles

Locate and access articles in library research databases.

5: Make Citations

How to cite your sources correctly.

6: Basic Search

Common techniques for constructing searches that yield useful results.

7: Advanced Search

Specialized search strategies for targeting specific topics.

Proxy server

To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.

This guide has been archived

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.

How is interdisciplinary research different?

How can you do truly interdisciplinary research, when most research sources are discipline-specific? Most of us learn to do research within a discipline, but you need to become adequate in multiple disciplines for this course.

Find specialized encyclopedias for your disciplines:

  1. Open Oskicat
  2. Type encyclopedias and a word or phrase describing your topic, such as development
  3. See what comes up.
  4. If that doesn't work, try typing handbooks and a word or phrase describing your topic such as organizational behavior
  5. If that doesn't work, ask a librarian.

Read more about doing interdisciplinary research.  An excellent book is Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory by Allen Repko

International topics databases

These three databases are policy and political science oriented.

News sources

Economics and business databases

IT and New Media databases

For more possibilities, look at the Media Studies databases.

Where's the PDF?

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:uc-eLinks 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.

Find an Article from a Citation

Here's a citation for an article...how do you find the whole article?

Gaultney, J. F. (2010). The Prevalence of Sleep Disorders in College Students: Impact on Academic Performance. Journal of American College Health, 59(2), 91-97

This citation is for an article by J. F. Gaultney, published in 2010 in the Journal of American College Health, a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal. It's part of volume 59, issue 2 of this journal, and was printed on pages 91-97. There are several ways of determining if the article you're looking for is available at Berkeley, in electronic or printed format:

Option 1: Use Google Scholar to locate a citation for the article, and UC-eLinks to retrieve the full text.

Paste or type the citation into Google and pull down the Google Scholar tool. Here's how:

jing thumbnail

Remember to set up off-campus access if you're off-campus. Here's a brief video that shows what to do if you don't see UC-eLinks in your search results.

Note: Google Scholar does not cover all publishers, and many journals indexed by Google Scholar have partial coverage only (some years/volumes missing). Also, not all articles found through Google Scholar will be available online. If you can't find the full text of your article this way, read on for more options!

Option 2: Look up the journal title in OskiCat or Melvyl.

You can also search for the title of the journal (NOT the article title!) in either OskiCat or Melvyl.  They will tell you:

Click this link for a 45-second demo.

Read more

Proxy server

To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.

Melvyl- the UC-wide catalog

For most research topics, Melvyl is the best catalog to use, because you can request books from other UC campuses directly from the catalog.  You can also use Melvyl to search Worldcat and find materials at libraries beyond UC.  Assume it will take 2-3 weeks to get books from other libraries.

Searching Library Catalogs

oskicat logo 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.

melvyl logo

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

Interlibrary Borrowing

As a Berkeley student you are eligible to use books and articles from other libraries around the United States. 

Check OskiCat  to make sure UC Berkeley does not own the material you want.

Provide a full and accurate bibliographic citation, including author, title, place and date of publication, and series.  You can get citations from professors, from Melvyl, from other articles, from Google scholar.  Verify your citations before submitting them for ILL.

SMS and QR Codes in OskiCat

You can now text yourself a call number or use a QR code reader to find the location of an item in the UCB Library. Just click on a title in your OskiCat search results, and both options will be displayed on the right.

SMS and QR image

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography lists important works you will use in your research: articles, books, chapter, reports, etc.

Your annotations are not just summaries, but are meant to inform the reader why each work is significant, how it relates to other works on the subject, and how well it succeeds in its task.

Here are a couple of excellent online guides to preparing an annotated bibliography.

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but any are easier than doing it by hand!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in that works in your browser to keeps copies of pdfs and other research materials you find on the web: permits tagging, notation, full text searching of your library of resources, works with Word, and has a free web backup service.  Formats your bibliography and footnotes in many style sheets.
  2. RefWorks - free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.
  3. EndNote: may be purchased from UC Berkeley's Software Central.

It's always good to double check the formatting -- sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.

Using APA 6th? Purdue has produced this very handy quick guide. The fulltext of APA 6th is not available online, but we do have print copies in the EdPsych Library in reference and short term reserve at BF76.7 P83 2010

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is an easy way to do interdisciplinary research, and with some settings changes can become even more useful.  You need a Google account to use these features.

Do your search in Google Scholar. Look in the left sidebar for the Create Alert link next to the envelope icon, and click it.  New items will be sent to your email account as they are found by Google.

Open Scholar.  Click on the gear icon gear icon in the upper right corner, and choose 'scholar preferences'. In the next screen, choose Library Links from the left-hand menu. In the search box, type the word Berkeley.  Choose University of California, Berkeley - UC-eLinks, and Open Worldcat Search.

Do a Google Scholar search. Click on the "Cited by" link under a citation and select the "Search within articles citing..." checkbox.

RSS Feeds and Alerts

Suppose you want to keep current with a specific journal that you don't have a personal subscription to.  You can do it with a RSS feed from the journal.  Let's take the US Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook.

First, subscribe to an RSS feed reader.  Google has a free one called Google Reader [there are many others].

Then, use the feed reader function to 'add a subscription'  to the journal you want to see updates for.  Or, if the journal has its own RSS feed this icon will appear in the URL box.  Just click it to set up your journal alert.


 

ticTOCS | The ticTOCs Journal Tables of Contents service makes it easy to keep up-to-date with newly published scholarly material by enabling you to find, display, store, combine and reuse thousands of journal tables of contents from multiple publishers.


 

Sometimes you want alerts for new articles on a particular set of search parameters.  Web of Science databases can create these alerts for you. [video tutorial]

Zotero Tips

If you've never used Zotero before, use the QuickStart Guide to get started.

Change your preferences if you want  Zotero to

To use Zotero to find specific articles in our library's databases, set up the Open URL resolver with this link: http://ucelinks.cdlib.org:8888/sfx_local? 

An in-depth discussion of the relative virtues of Endnote and Zotero,

 

Doe, Main Stacks, Moffitt Library floorplans

Looking for a location in Doe, Main Stacks or Moffitt?  Try the floorplans, or ask for assistance!

Interlibrary Borrowing

As a Berkeley student you are eligible to use books and articles from other libraries around the United States. 

Check OskiCat  to make sure UC Berkeley does not own the material you want.

Provide a full and accurate bibliographic citation, including author, title, place and date of publication, and series.  You can get citations from professors, from Melvyl, from other articles, from Google scholar.  Verify your citations before submitting them for ILL.

Library Hours

Hours on: 
Enter as mm/dd/yy 

For: 


To select individual libraries/units, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking.

Off-campus Access to Library Resources

Before you can access Library resources from off campus make sure you have configured your computer with proxy server settings.

After you make a one-time change in your web browser settings, the proxy server will ask you to log in with a CalNet ID or Library PIN when you click on the link to a licensed resource.

Library FAQs

More questions?  Our FAQs may help. 

Ask a Librarian 24/7 Chat

You do allow embedded content.

You can type your question directly into this chat window to chat with a librarian. Your question may be answered by a reference librarian from Berkeley, from another UC campus, or another academic library elsewhere in the US.  We share information about our libraries to make sure you get good answers.

If the librarian can't answer you well enough, your question will be referred to a Berkeley librarian for follow-up.

Have fun chatting!

Research Advisory Service

Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates

Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics (examples of research topics).

Schedule, view, edit or cancel your appointment online (CalNetID required)

This service is for Cal undergraduates only. Graduate students and faculty should contact the library liaison to their department or program for specialized reference consultations.

Reference Desks Help

"There are no dumb questions!" 

That's the philosophy of reference librarians, who are here to save you time and trouble. If you get stuck, you can talk to a reference librarian at any campus library

reference librarian

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