POLI SCI xxx: UCDC Research Seminar

Questions? That's my job.

  • Lynn Jones

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  • Office Hours: by appointment
  • Office Location: 212 Doe Library
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    510 768-7643

About this Guide

A guide to library research for Washington DC Center students from a variety of UC campuses.

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. 

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

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

Analyze your topic

Write down your topic.  Identify and mark the most important keywords (the ones you would definitely want to include in a search).

Example:  
What is the role of the passions in Romeo and Juliet?

For each keyword, see if you can think of synonyms or closely related concepts that you might also want to search.

Example:
passions or love or eros
Romeo and Juliet or Shakespeare

How to Search

Power search features for most article databases:
  • Use synonyms -- there are many ways to express a concept (teenager or teenagers or adolescent)
  • Use truncation to get different forms of the word, for example teenage* will retrieve teenagersteenager,teenaged, etc.
  • Use quotation marks when you want an"exact phrase"
  • Restrict by date -- most will let you find only the most current five years if you chose that limit.

Always use Advanced Search:
  • Look for "controlled vocabulary" (also called descriptors or subject headings) that helps you identify articles that are about a topic, not just that have the word in the abstract. For example, if you are looking for the cause of a certain psychological problem, the descriptor "etiology" finds material that looks at causality.
  • Use the special "limits" or "fields" that the database offers. They really do help you make a more focused and powerful search.  Some typical limits include:
    • Publication type -- do you want articles? reviews? book chapters?
Once you get a single good article, use its subject headings or descriptors to find others like it!

Build and refine your search

Library catalogs and article databases offer several ways to narrow or broaden, or otherwise control your search.  Below are common methods; if they don't work, look for a "Help" link!

Most default to a quick keyword search (somewhat like Google) that assumes you want items containing all the words you type.

Example:
passions shakespeare

Most let you truncate a word with a wildcard symbol (usually * ) to get plurals and other variant forms.

Example: 
passion*
gets passion, passions, passionate

Most offer an Advanced Search with more options, such as searching on an author's name, or words in a title.

REFINING YOUR SEARCH
If your search retrieves too many items, use more specific terms, or put in additional keywords.

Example: 
eros shakespeare

gets fewer items than love shakespeare

Example: 
love poetry shakespeare

gets fewer items than love shakespeare

If your search gets too few items, use more general terms or remove some keywords.

You can also combine terms with OR to get more items.

Example: 
love OR eros
gets items containing either term.

FINDING RELATED ITEMS
In library catalogs and most article databases, click on the title of an interesting item and look in the detailed display for links (blue underlined text).  These may include the author's name, "Subjects" or "Subject headings".  Clicking on one of these links will do a search for items tagged the same way.

MANAGING RESULTS
Many catalogs and databases allow you to save items to a list/folder/etc. and e-mail, print or download the citation.  Some will allow you to output citations in a particular citation style (ex:  MLA or Chicago).

Proxy and VPN set up

To use library databases from DC you have to set up your campus proxy server or VPN. Once you do so, you'll be able to get articles from the databases in pdf form after logging with your campus ID.

Click your campus name below for set-up instructions:

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!

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]

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. 

 

Public Media

 

 

Multidisciplinary databases

These article databases are good for all topics:

 

US Gov't Sources

Government sources are usually considered primary sources.  There are many types of them, including:

LexisNexis Congressional is a good place to start looking for most of them.
US Census (1980 to present)

Scholarly Articles

Here are some databases that all campuses have access to. Your individual campus will have more.  Make sure to check your library's list of databases.  

Environmental topics

Anthropology

Business/Finance/Market topics

Public Policy and Political Science topics

Education topics

  Women's Studies

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.

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; 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 cloud storage 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.

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

Citing your sources

Our guide to Citing Your Sources tells how to establish your paper's credibility and avoid plagiarism, and provides links to detailed examples of MLA and other citation formats.

American Sociological Association style manual

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,

 

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