Doing good research requires different skills than searching. Searching online encourages ways of thinking that can create false expectations and poor research results. Here are a few tips:
Critically Analyzing Information Sources (Cornell)
Searching for scholarly sources
Use OskiCat to locate materials related to your topic, including books, government publications, and audio and video recordings, in the libraries of UC Berkeley. OskiCat will show you the location and availability of the items that we own. See the guide for suggestions on constructing your searches.
Use Melvyl to locate materials related to your topic located at other campuses in the UC system. Next Generation Melvyl also allows you to expand your search to libraries worldwide. Clicking on the REQUEST button in the detailed view of a catalog record prompt you to fill out a form to request the item through our Interlibrary Loan office.
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
3. OR, to find newspaper databases:
Library home > Articles > News Article Databases
Many article databases contain information about articles (citations or abstracts), not the entire text of the article. Once you've used an article database to find articles on your topic, you may need to use this button: in order to locate and read the full text of the article. The UC-eLinks button appears in nearly all the databases available from the UCB Library website.
UC-eLinks will link you to the online full text of an article if UCB has paid for online access; otherwise, UC-eLinks will help you locate a print copy on the shelf in the library. If UCB doesn't own the article in print or online format, UC-eLinks can also help you order a copy from another library.
For more information, watch this video tutorial (about 4 min.)
You can also set up UC-eLinks to work with Google Scholar. For more information, watch this 40-second demo.
Using specialized encyclopedias to become familiar with your topic is the most efficient way to get started on your research. These encyclopedias, written by knowledgeable scholars, will summarize your topic, provide you with social and historical context, familiarize you with specialized terminology, and often provide lists of additional resources on your topic. They are providing you in condensed form information from multiple books and articles. Think of them as CliffsNotes ... that you are allowed to use.
The encyclopedias listed below may be useful for many of the topics suggested by your instructor, but there are many, many more. The easiest way to locate them in the Library is to do an Oskicat search like this:
1. Use the keyword search so that it looks for the words everywhere in the record.
2. The asterisk is a truncation symbol, which will retrieve variations of the word: ethic, ethics, ethical, etc.
3. The Doe Reference collection includes many encyclopedias related to social science topics. Limiting your search to this collection will retrieve a manageable number of records. If you retrieve nothing, change the search parameter to All Collections.
Try different terminology and be persistent. If you are not finding a relevant resource, be sure to ask for help.
Other searches you might try:
encyclopedia and history
encyclopedia and united states
encyclopedia and african american*
encyclopedia and reconstruction
Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty, violating the Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct. The campus issues a guide to understanding plagiarism, which states:
"Plagiarism means using another's work without giving credit. You must put others' words in quotation marks and cite your source(s). Citation must also be given when using others' ideas, even when those ideas are paraphrased into your own words."
Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic and student conduct rules and is punishable with a failing grade and possibly more severe action.
In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when
This content is part of the Understanding Plagiarism tutorial created by the Indiana University School of Education.
When preparing a bibliography, you’ll want to establish which style sheet your professor wishes you to use. For undergraduate English classes, the preferred style sheet is often the Modern Language Association’s MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. This publication also contains valuable information about the entire research process from choosing a topic, to avoiding plagiarism, to formatting the paper.
MLA handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th edition. New York : Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
Doe Reference Reference Hall LB2369 .G53 2009
Main Gardner Stacks LB2369 .G53 2009
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab created the MLA Formatting and Style Guide, which is quite useful.
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!
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).
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.
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.
A large part of the library's collection is stored off campus in an environmentally secure building called the Northern Regional Library Facility [NRLF].
Submit online requests via the REQUEST button in OskiCat to borrow material shelved at NRLF. To receive electronic or paper copies of book chapters or journal articles, submit an online request via the "Request an article from NRLF (photocopy or web delivery)" link that appears in eligible titles in OskiCat. Staff at public service desks of any campus library can assist you with further questions.
Log in to Request with your Calnet ID and fill out the screens. Choose the volume you want, for periodicals:
Click on the image below to see a larger interactive version of the campus library map.
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