Jordan Greenwald's class on the housewife, using Ibsen's A Doll House; Shakespeare's Othello; Woolf's Mrs Dalloway; Robinson's Housekeeping, Sirk's Imitation of Life [film]; Haynes's Safe [film]
The Research Process
Choose a topic.
Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including
Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest [countries, regions, cities]
Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from encyclopedias or other secondary sources. Wikipedia can be good here.
Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic. Look under the History Databases tab of this guide for article database suggestions. 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.
Take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research for more ideas.
Only in the Library
"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, but not for thousands of electronic books, journal articles, and scholarly resources that are available only to the campus community. Resources like Lexis-Nexis, Web of Science, Academic Search Complete, and ARTstor are "invisible" to Google. You will not see results from these databases in the results of a Google search.*
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.
Has been cited by other scholars. This can take time, so the newest articles might not be heavily cited yet. How do you know? Try searching the article citation in Google Scholar, which indicates the number of citations in Google Scholar [not comprehensive however]
Proves the point with sufficient evidence, rather than opinion statements.
Project MUSE articles from 250 scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.
JSTOR Includes over 1000 scholarly journals - scholarly -- not current
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 teenagers, teenager,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!
What is Peer Review?
Your instructor may want you to use "peer reviewed" articles as sources for your paper. Or you may be asked to find "academic," "scholarly," or "refereed" articles. What do these terms mean?
Let's start with the terms academic and scholarly, which are synonyms. An academic or scholarly journal is one intended for a specialized or expert audience. Journals like this exist in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Examples include Nature, Journal of Sociology, and Journal of American Studies. Scholarly/academic journals exist to help scholars communicate their latest research and ideas to each other; they are written "by experts for experts."
Most scholarly/academic journals are peer reviewed; another synonym for peer reviewed is refereed. Before an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it's evaluated for quality and significance by several specialists in the same field, who are "peers" of the author. The article may go through several revisions before it finally reaches publication.
Magazines like Time or Scientific American, newspapers, (most) books, government documents, and websites are not peer-reviewed, though they may be thoroughly edited and fact-checked. Articles in scholarly journals (in printed format or online) usually ARE peer-reviewed.
How can you tell if an article is both scholarly and peer-reviewed?
Is the article about a very specialized topic? Is it written for a knowledgeable, expert audience, or does it seem to be written for the beginner or general public?
Does the article have an abstract or summary at the beginning? Are there footnotes or endnotes? Is there a list of references?
Does the article present the author's original research?
Is it peer-reviewed? Look at the journal:
What journal was the article published in? Look on the journal's website (or inside the front cover of a printed copy) for a description of the journal. Is it described as "peer-reviewed" or "refereed"?
Try looking up the journal's title in ulrichsweb.com (an online database of information about magazines and journals). If it's a peer-reviewed source, a referee's jersey icon will be shown next to the title:
If you're still not sure, ask your instructor or a librarian.
Want to learn more? Watch a tutorial about identifying peer-reviewed sources on the Web.
Film Index International Indexes almost 100,000 international feature films and shorts, Hollywood entertainment shorts, documentaries, and television movies from all over the world.
Searching Library Catalogs
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.
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.
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:
Citing Your Sources - a brief online guide to the main citation styles and a brief discussion on what constitutes plagiarism.
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 Many older editions available throughout the UCB libraries.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.