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.
"It's all free on the Internet, right? Why should I go through the library's website to find sources for my paper?"
The Web is a great source for free, publicly available information. However, the Library pays for thousands of electronic books, journals, and other information resources that are available only to the campus community. Through the Library website, you can access hundreds of different licensed databases containing journal articles, electronic books, maps, images, government and legal information, current and historical newspapers, digitized primary sources, and more.
You access these resources through the Internet, using a browser like Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer -- but these databases are not part of the free, public Web. Resources like Lexis-Nexis, Web of Science, Academic Search Complete, and ARTstor are "invisible" to Google. You will not see results from most library databases in the results of a Google search.
1. Read an introduction to the campus libraries for undergraduates.
2. Set up your computer for off campus access to library databases.
4. Each library has its own hours and they may change on holidays and between semesters - click on the calendar for each library to view a month at a time.
5. Information about citing your sources and links to guides for frequently used citation styles here.
Click on the image below to see a larger interactive version of the campus library map.
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:
Select the best search tools to find information on your topic. Look 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!
Unsure how to start a paper or research project? Think maybe you could stand to brush up on 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:
Starting strategies, from choosing a topic to finding the right keywords.
The publication timeline, scholarly vs. popular sources, and differences in academic disciplines.
Search for books and other items in OskiCat, Cal's local library catalog.
Locate and access articles in library research databases.
How to cite your sources correctly.
Common techniques for constructing searches that yield useful results.
Specialized search strategies for targeting specific topics.
To find books, DVDs, maps, sound recordings, manuscripts, and much more - everything except articles - use a library catalog. At Cal, we have two catalogs: OskiCat and Melvyl.
What's the difference? More details here.
For each item you find in OskiCat or Melvyl, make sure you know which campus library it's located in, what its call number is, and whether or not it's checked out, library use only, etc.
The Cal libraries have access to thousands of scholarly journals and hundreds of popular magazines, both electronically in and in printed format.
Not sure of the difference between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine? Journals contain articles written by experts (university professors, professional researchers) for other experts in the same field of study. Journal articles are usually very specialized and can be more difficult to read, if you are not already knowledgeable in the subject area. Magazines contain articles written by journalists or freelance writers, intended for the general public. Always check with your instructor to see if magazine articles are acceptable to use as sources for your paper!
Some good general resources for electronic magazine and journal articles are Academic Search Complete and JSTOR.
Academic Search Complete contains information about thousands of articles in magazines AND journals; limit your search to Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals to see only scholarly journal articles. Click "Linked Full Text" or "PDF Full Text" to read the whole article. All subject areas are included in Academic Search Complete.
JSTOR is an interdiscplinary (all subject areas) article database that includes only scholarly articles, from thousands of different scholarly journals.
Want to find scanned articles from major U.S. newspapers, going back to the mid-19th century? You can do this through an easy-to-use online database: ProQuest Historical Newspapers. This database includes articles from the Chicago Defender (1905-1975), the Chicago Tribune (1849-1987), Los Angeles Times (1881-1987), the New York Times (1851-2007), the San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922), the Wall Street Journal (1889-1993), and the Washington Post (1877-1994).
Trying to use Historical Newspapers from off-campus? Be sure to set up off-campus access. Use of this resource is restricted to UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff.
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:
Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, organize and store your PDFs, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but all are easier than doing it by hand!
Tip: After creating a bibliography with a citation management tool, it's always good to double check the formatting; sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.
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.
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.
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!
"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.
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