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Access all of our resources through the library website.
Looking for a more detailed, step-by-step introduction to research? Try our interactive online Library Workshop.
Let us know what you think! After you've used this research guide, please take a moment to give us your comments.
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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.
Your instructor may want you to use scholarly (or "peer-reviewed") sources. What does this mean?
There are two main types of scholarly sources:
Scholarly sources are:
Popular sources, on the other hand, are intended for the general public. These sources are more introductory, may not be written by experts in a field, and often do not cite any other sources. Examples of popular magazines include National Geographic, The Economist, Time, Newsweek, and People.
How can you tell if an article or book is scholarly? Look for:Read more
The newspaper databases listed here contain articles published mostly after 1985. For historical topics use Historical Newspapers [Proquest] database
Finding a citation in a bibliography (online or in print) is a great way to find more resources on your topic.
However, you have to be able to read the citation in order to find the item in the UCB Library.
The most common citations are for books, articles, and book chapters. Can you tell which citation below is for a book? For a chapter? For an article?
Sometimes you find an article in a bibliography, a book or a footnote -- and you want to see if we have it. The Citation Linker searches through our online databases to see if it is available fulltext. If not, it sets up a search for the paper journal in Melvyl. And if we don't have it at Berkeley, it lets you request it through Interlibrary Loan.
Oskicat. UC Berkeley libraries catalog. Includes records for most UCB library materials, including books, e-books, journal and e-journal titles, films and videos, maps, archival materials, and much more. See also the Quick Guide to Oskicat and Oskicat Tutorial.
Melvyl. Catalog for all UC Campus libraries, including selected libraries on campus not in Oskicat, e.g. the Boalt Law Library. Why use Melvyl? It includes thousands of scholarly journal articles and links to WorldCat, which gets you into the collections of libraries around the world
Google Scholar. It automatically connects you via UC eLinks to articles and other content licenses by the UC libraries.
Books and journals are arranged on our shelves according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. Each is assigned a unique call number based on its subject matter and other characteristics. Items on the same subject will often be grouped together.
In using a call number to locate a book on the shelf, consider each element in turn before moving on to the next segment.
These call numbers are arranged as they should appear on the shelves. In each case, the element shown in boldface distinguishes the number from the preceding one:
Each call number consists of several elements. For example::
The FIRST line, TK, is based on the broad subject of the book. Within Class T for technology, TK represents electrical engineering.
The SECOND line, 7881.6, defines the subject matter more finely. When looking for the book, read this as a whole number with a decimal component. In this example, TK7881.6 represents magnetic recording (a subdivision of TK— electrical engineering).
The THIRD line, M29, usually indicates author, but may also represent a further subject subdivision, geographic area, etc. There may also be a fourth line, formatted the same way. When looking for the book, read the numeric component as if it were preceded by a decimal point. In the example above, the numeric part of M29 should be read as ".29" (and the call number TK7881.6 M29 comes before TK7881.6 M4).
The YEAR of publication, such as 1993, may also be present. These file in chronological order and often indicate successive editions of a book. The call number may also have additional elements, such as volume numbers.
An annotated bibliography lists important works you will use in your research: articles, books, chapter, reports, etc.
Your annotations are not just summaries, but are meant to inform the reader why each work is significant, how it relates to other works on the subject, and how well it succeeds in its task.
Here are a couple of excellent online guides to preparing an annotated bibliography.
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
For more examples, check out the book, Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles, chapter 4 "MLA Style."
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.
More questions? Our FAQs may help.
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!
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