AMER STD 191: American Studies Thesis

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  • Corliss Lee


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About this Guide

Guide to Research for American Studies thesis course, Instructor: Palmer

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The UCB Library sponsors the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.  Win $1000 (upper division students) or $750 (lower division students) for your research paper!

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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.

Brainstorming Academic Disciplines

Example:

Topic:  Image of African American women in advertising

potentially relevant disciplines:

African American Studies
Gender and Women's Studies
Ethnic Studies
Media Studies
Psychology
Sociology
Business
etc.

 

Keywords - Brainstorming

Developing appropriate keywords/search terms is an essential part of research.  First, break your topic into components.  Develop a list of synonyms and alternative terminology for each component.  Think about broader and narrower concepts and word variants.  What words can you exclude?

Topic: Image of African American Women in Advertising

image(s) or stereotyp(es)(ing) or depict(ion) or portray(al)...

african american(s) or black(s) or minorit(y)(ies)

women or gender

advertis(e)(ing) or media

Remember to be creative with your terminology!  More examples:

people of color and environmental activism*
environmental justice
environmental justice and hazardous waste*
environmental equity
environmental discrimination
environmental racism
environmental injustice

Article Databases

Search an article database to find citations (title, author, title of journal, date, page numbers) for articles on a particular topic.  The Library gives you access to over 200 article databases covering different disciplines.

1.  Think about which academic disciplines might write about your topic.  Examples:  literature, film, anthropology, history...

2.  Find the appropriate article database by subject (academic discipline or department).  Look for "Recommended" databases.

Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject

Searching Article Databases

Sample searches in ProQuest Social Science databases:

Library home > Articles > Article Databases A-Z > ProQuest Social Sciences   to search multiple social science databases

1.  Example of a search using multiple terms, truncation,etc

 

celebrit*  (all fields + text)
athlet*
(all fields + text) 

check off:   limit to:  peer reviewed

* = truncation symbol or wildcard;  child* = child, childs, children, childish, childhood

narrow down your search by searching all parts of the items except full text:

celebrit*  (all fields (no full text))
athlet*
(all fields (no full text)) 

2.  use a phrase; using official subject terms

"air jordan*" (all fields + text)
 

click on subject term:  archetypes

add another search term:  advertis*  (all fields (no full text))
 

Sample Searches in Film & Television Literature Index/Academic Search Complete


Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject > Film > Film and Television Literature Index

choose databases

also check off Academic Search Complete (general, interdisciplinary database)

television (select a field - optional)
famil* (select a field - optional)

find an official subject term, put in quotes to make it a phrase

"families on television" (subject)

queer* or gay*  (select a field - optional)
television (subject)
race or racial* or ethnic* or color (select a field - optional)

Sample searches in America:  History and Life:

Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject > History > America:  History and Life

fashion*  (select a field )
advertis* (select a field))

historical period from:  1950   to   1960

Search Results

UC-eLinks - Find Article Text/Location

Once you've searched a database to find articles, you may need to use UC-eLinks orange logo to link to a PDF or html file if the full text is not immediately available. Each database is a bit different, but a good rule of thumb is this: when you see the Uc-eLinks icon click on it to view your article access options, which can range from full text to a call number to an Interlibrary Loan request:

UC e-Links image

For more information, here's a tutorial on using UC-eLinks.

Citation Management Tools

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!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in for 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. Zotero is also available as a stand-alone application that syncs with Chrome and Safari, or as a bookmarklet for mobile browsers.
  2. RefWorks - web-based and free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies, then works with Word to help you format references and a bibliography for your paper. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.
  3. EndNote: Desktop software for managing your references and formatting bibliographies. You can purchase EndNote from the Cal Student Store

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.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when

Recommendations

 

This content is part of the Understanding Plagiarism tutorial created by the Indiana University School of Education.

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,

 

Citing Your Sources

The UCB Library Guide to Citing Your Sources discusses why you should cite your sources and links to campus resources about plagiarism.  It also includes links to guides for frequently used citation styles.  Also:

Google Research Tools

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

Open Scholar.  Click on scholar preferences [upper right corner]. Under Library Links, enter the word Berkeley.  Choose  UC Berkeley eLinks and Open WorldCat - Library Search and Save your preferences.  UC e-links will now appear in Google Scholar search results.

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.

And When You Find It...Evaluate It!

You already know that you should evaluate anything you find on the Internet.  Here are some reminders of what to look for.

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Getting Help

Other ways to get help:  in person, by e-mail, using specialized chat services

And of course:  e-mail Corliss or email Theresa (Bancroft Library)

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.

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