POLI SCI 999: UCDC Social Sciences Seminar

Questions? That's my job.

  • Lynn Jones

  •  

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

    510 768-7643

About this Guide

A guide to library research for students in the UCDC research seminar.

The Research Process

Choose a topic.  It's OK if it's vague, or too broad; you can get more specific later.

Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including:

Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from encyclopedias (online or in print) or other secondary sources.  Wikipedia can be good here.

Select the best search tools to find information on your topicLook under the Finding Articles tab of this guide for article database suggestions, or click here to see all the article databases available for your subject.  Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.

Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.

Evaluate what you find.  Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.

Refine your topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords. 

For more ideas, take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research!

Choosing a Discipline

So, how do you know what disciplines you should use?

  1. Look at the department your class is offered by.  That's a pretty obvious clue.
  2. Think about what other disciplines might discuss your topic.  For instance, a paper on Education in Chile could involve both Education and Latin American Studies. 

What do you do with this information?  Search in the article databases dedicated to those disciplines. Here's a list of databases for each discipline, by campus.

 

Read more

How to Narrow Your Topic

"I'm writing a paper on World War II." 

Often students start their research with a very general topic, even though they may realize the topic is too large to deal with in a 10-15 page paper.  Faculty and librarians tell them, "You have to narrow this down."  But how do you narrow a topic?

Ask yourself--

You can combine these ideas, "What were the major impacts of WWII on women in France, in the decade after the war?"

More ideas in our brief tutorial on topic selection and narrowing. 

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.

B.E.A.M.

What sort of articles and data do you need to find for your paper?  Scholarly, for sure, but there are many others:

It's helpful when doing your research to think about how you will use what you find.  The acronym BEAM helps you make sure you find materials that will do the job you need in your paper. Research papers need materials in all four categories.  

B = Background information.    Do you know the seminal works, major scholars and theories in your topical area?  What about the actual definitions of the disciplinary jargon you're using?  Scholarly encyclopedias are the best source of background information: look in Oskicat under your discipline, with the word encyclopedias, [sociology encyclopedias]. Could also use Wikipedia, a textbook, a newspaper, or any source that fills you in on your big topic. 

E = Evidence   Often called primary sources, evidence is the stuff you are studying in your research.  Evidence could be news coverage, laws, court cases, personal interviews, statistics or data... whatever helps you prove your thesis.

A = Analysis  Here are the secondary sources-- analysis is usually written by faculty scholars or technical experts, who are themselves analyzing evidence that they may include or cite.  As a student writing a paper, you are doing analysis, so it's important to refer to the work of others studying the same topic

M = Methodology  This means the methods and questions you will use to analyze your evidence.  Each discipline has its own favorite ways of asking questions and its own ideas about what sort of information can serve as evidence.  You must know which methods are suitable to the disciplines you are working within.  To find methodology, search for books by using the name of the discipline and the word methodology.  E.g. Sociology method*.

[Bizup, Joseph.  "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review Vol. 27, Iss. 1, 2008]

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 to Do a Literature Review

Not to be confused with a book review, a literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.

Similar to primary research, development of the literature review requires four stages:

Literature reviews should comprise the following elements:

In assessing each piece, consideration should be given to:

A literature review may constitute an essential chapter of a thesis or dissertation, or may be a self-contained review of writings on a subject. In either case, its purpose is to:

The literature review itself, however, does not present new primary scholarship.

[Thank you UC Santa Cruz Library for this text.]

Economics and business databases

Interdisciplinary databases

Peace and Conflict Studies databases

History databases

Three important databases for research in History.

Government and public policy

CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online). Indexes journals, books, policy briefs, working papers, and conference proceedings from research institutes worldwide related to international affairs analysis and advocacy materials. Also includes links to international affairs Internet sources. 

EconLit
. The most comprehensive index to scholarly journal articles in economics. It also lists books and dissertations, and indexes articles within 'collective works' (books consisting of collections of essays or individual papers). Most citations include a searchable abstract. 

Elsevier Geography.  Indexes over 2000 journals, monographs, books, conference proceedings, and theses covering the international literature in human geography, as well as international development issues.

PAIS International and PAIS Archive. Indexes books, journals, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference reports, and web sources related to public policy, politics, economics, and social issues worldwide. 

PolicyFile
. Index to public policy in the areas of economics, politics, the environment, and social issues, taken from reports from a wide range of thinks tanks, Non-governmental organizations, international governmental organizations, and other institutions worldwide.

Political Science: A SAGE Full-Text Collection. Includes the full-text of 24 journals published by SAGE and participating societies, some journals going back 24 years.

Pro and Con. Provides full text access to the print publications: Congressional Digest, Supreme Court Debates, and International Debates. Pro and con viewpoints are presented on topics ranging from civil rights, economy, environmental policy, politics and government, and foreign policy.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
.  Indexes books, journals, and dissertations within the field of political science and related to international relations, law and politics, political economy, public administration, and public policy. 

 

Melvyl has articles

Melvyl has become a good place to start your search for scholarly articles because it displays the contents of some article databases.  While it does not include as many articles as the databases like Academic Search Complete or JSTOR, it is easy to use, because it is a one-stop search.

Within Melvyl you can turn on or turn off specific databases if you find the results aren't relevant.

Read more

International economics data

Africa Development Indicators.  Detailed collection of data on Africa, containing over 1,600 indicators, covering 53 African countries from 1961 to 2008. Data include social, economic, financial, natural resources, infrastructure, governance, partnership, and environmental indicators.

Asian Development Bank Statistical Database System. Statistical Data from the Asian Development Bank (query at the top of the page).

China Data Online. Focuses on economic statistics of China, arranged by regions and categories. Includes monthly and yearly reports on China's macroeconomic development and statistical databases about China's population and economy at the county and city levels.

Eurostat. Publications and statistics from the EU, with data in economics, population, agriculture, trade, transportation, the envornment and much more.

FAOSTAT. Extensive data on agriculture, food supply, food security, prices, commodities, forest products, and fisheries from the FAO.

Human Development Report Statistics. Statistics from the United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP). Links to the text of national human development reports from over 250 countries and regions.

Indiastat.  Statistical data from Indian government and private sources: finance, agriculture, health, housing, transportation, and many other areas. Data is derived from documents, reports and policies from the states and national government of India. Information is classified into 30 major sections and includes census data. Userid and password required. Please inquire at any Library Reference Desk for assistance.

International Data Base. From the U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics for demographic, and socioeconomic data for countries and areas of the world. Information dates back from 1950 and as far ahead as 2050.

International Financial Statistics (IFS).  From the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Includes data on exchange and interest rates, balance of payments, government finance, national accounts, prices, foreign reserves, and more.  Recommended: use the economic concept view.

ISI Emerging Markets. Includes company data, financial statements, industry analyses, equity quotes, macroeconomic statistics, and many national government statistical yearbooks.

LABORSTA. International labor statistics from 1979 to the present on employment, earnings, wages, migration, strikes and more.

ProQuest Statistical DataSets. Provides fast and easy one-stop shopping to more than 5.3 billion (and growing) data points from licensed and public domain datasets. Sources of data include local, state and international governments and organizations.

OECD iLibrary. Leading International Organization for Foreign Aid data. Includes International Development Statistics as well as statistical databases on External Debt Statistics and Geographical Distribution of Financial Aid Flows to Developing Countries. Choose the "international development" link on the statistics section.

Official Statistics on the Web. Access to social, economic and general data from official government sources.  Includes statistical offices, central banks and government agencies. Features a good subject list.

PRS Country Risk Data. International political risk data, macroeconomic data, and forecasting, including measures of bureaucracy, corruption, civil disorders, ethnic tensions, inflation, terrorism, etc.

UN Data. Wide range of economic, social, cultural, and demographic indicators: population, environment, health, economics, technology, trade, refugees, and more.

U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Green Book). Loans and grants from the US government each fiscal year by purpose and country.

World Development Indicators. Time series data from 1960 for 207 countries in the areas of population, labour, education, economics, the environment and much more.

World Income Inequality Database. Information for over 140 countries on income inequalities at both cross-country and time series levels over the period 1950-98, with a focus on the period since 1980. See also the University of Texas Income Inequality Project.

News databases

The newspaper databases listed here contain articles published mostly after 1985.  For historical topics use Historical Newspapers [Proquest] database

Find books in DC

How can you get books in Washington DC?  Not from your campus library, sorry to say.

But you do have access to academic and professional libraries in DC:

Find eBooks

Since you are away from your library, electronic books become even more convenient for your research.  All campuses purchase ebooks, and there are various ways you can find them, but these differ by campus. 

A basic approach is to use your library's catalog.  Limit your search results to online resources-- this usually requires an advanced search.  Here's an example, using the Santa Barbara catalog [quick video]

You can also use Melvyl and limit the results to your own campus. 

 

When to Use Books | When to Use Articles?

So you need scholarly resources for your paper.  These can be either books or articles: How do you know when to use which?

Books

•  Long•  Information tends to be less current because it takes time to write and publish a book. •  Subject matter is broad; can give an overview of a topic •  Find them using a library catalog

Book chapters

•  Briefer; like an article •  Information tends to be less current because it takes time to write and publish a book. •  Subject matter is narrow, like an article; could be a case study for example. •  Find them using a database/ search engine, like JSTOR

Articles

•  Briefer •  Information tends to be more recent than books •  But not as current as news items •  Subject matter is narrow; could be a case study for example •  Find them using a database/ search engine, like JSTOR

For more information see our tutorial

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

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.

Google Research Tools

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.

Open Scholar.  Click on the gear icon gear icon in the upper right corner, and choose 'scholar preferences'. In the new window, scroll down to 'Library Links', type the name of your campus.  Choose the name of your campus as well as "Open Worldcat Search".

Do your search in Google Scholar. Look in the green toolbar for the envelope icon, and click it.  New items will be sent to your email account as they are found by Google.

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

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 exclusively with the Firefox browser: keeps copies of what 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.
  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.

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