Choosing the "right" resource means choosing a database that finds you the kind of materials you need.
Books & articles: You're likely to need the UCB Library catalog (OskiCat) and an article database for your assignment. Which one you use, depends on what you already know and the kind of materials sought.
If you already have a citation for an item or you want to find books on your topic, you can start with the catalog
If you want to isolate articles or essays on a topic, you'll need to use an "article" database
Catalogs|article databases and locating results (details)
Encyclopedias: Brief background information.
Knowing something about your topic will give you a place to begin and help you search better. It's hard to search in void!
Catalogs list library collections, item locations, and availability.
- database results do not equal what UCB owns - they identify where articles were published (name of publication and associated volume, issue, date info.) - sometimes results link to article content online - use UC-eLinks if a full text option is not provided - sometimes include more than articles (chapters in books, etc.)
Where's the article
Most library databases have the UC-eLinks feature. When a result is not available online, it allows you to check the UC-wide collections to see if it is available elsewhere (either online or in print copy).
Click the orange button associated with a result to see its access options.
Encyclopedias are often a good place to begin when you don't know much about a topic. They provide basic background information, the knowledge of which helps when searching for other materials: identify people, events, issues, etc. Entries may also have an associated bibliography that identifies other materials related to a topic.
This free encyclopedia is publicly editable and not a scholarly resource. Because anyone can write or add to an entry, the information may be innacurate or untrue. Through the very structure of its creation, it has dependability issues. Yet, it can still be a useful tool, if used wisely.
Like other encyclopedias, it can be helpful in obtaining background, and entries often list sources for further reading which you can see if UCB has in its collections. Use Wikipedia as a starting point for information you will verify in the course of your research via scholarlysources.
Research is as credible as the work that goes into it! It's important to analyze the information you find, including where it comes from.
While a magazine or journal article database lists results from sources known to be reputable/scholarly, finding material via Google requires additional evaluation on your part.
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)
UCB has librarians specializing in certain disciplinary subjects and certain kinds of materials (government documents, film, etc.).
These notes contain additional suggestions about how you might proceed to best use the resources outlined in this class guide. They presume familiarity with the general concepts and information addressed in the other tabbed pages of the guide.
A research trajectory
Decide text/topic you are interested in writing about -- at least preliminarily.
Review the suggested resources section, below, and the Resources tab.
Select a resource whose content matches the kind of materials you are seeking to find and whose disciplinary focus maps to your topic (meaning publications in that field are likely to be writing about it). Or...choose an interdisciplinary database.
Search isolated resources to see what others have written on your topic, or what others are writing about that might suggest further topical focus.
Select promising results to examine closely. Remember to note any information you may need if you end up citing them.
find books on your topic
find the periodicals you've already identified as having articles on your topic
find encyclopedias to get background information
Article databases (by SUBJECT)
identify article and essay content on your topic
identify current research
identify research focused on an aspect of a topic
search for publications from a specific discipline
literature, psychology, film studies, history, etc.
MLA is a recommended database for literary criticism
citation database / no full text
use UC-eLinks to locate result text
Article databases (GENERAL)
often have popular sources (magazine & news) as well scholarly