Library Research Step by Step
For Political Science 122
The Research Process in a Nutshell
1. Start with a question or topic.
2. Think about where the answer—or a piece of
the pu...
0. Before you get started
• The licenses for most of our research tools
require that users are on UCSD IP addresses
– Are ...
1. Choose your research question,
hypothesis, or topic and keywords
• Develop your research question, hypothesis, or thesi...
Try it yourself – 2 minutes
1. Take 1 minute to jot down your research
topic, so at least you have an idea on paper,
even ...
2. Choose tools that might be useful
for this project.
• You want a variety of
– Background sources
– Exhibits or Evidence...
Books
Books typically cover a single topic in depth.
Look in an online library catalog like
(UC San Diego’s library catalo...
Scholarly Articles
Scholarly articles cover more specific topics than books.
Because they are shorter, they are often publ...
Primary Sources
Primary sources are materials that
document the event when it
happened—or as close to when it
happened as ...
Statistics & Datasets
Generally available in specialized databases or
directly from the researchers as
• Aggregate/statist...
Information Timeline Graphic by adstarkel. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Try it yourself – 5 minutes
1. Take 1 minute think about which types of
sources (books, scholarly articles, news,
reports,...
The Librarian’s Favorites
• Scholarly articles
– Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
– all ProQuest databases
– all EBSC...
3. Choose your search strategies for
each research tool.
• In most databases, you can combine terms
with and (both terms m...
Try it yourself – 1 minute
• Take 1 minute to develop a keyword search
strategy using some of the keywords you
brainstorme...
4. Refine your search with limits.
• Most databases have some sort of limits
you can apply, for example:
– date ranges
– p...
How to tell if a source is peer reviewed
• Use a database and its “peer reviewed” limits/filters
• Google the source/publi...
5. Get the actual item.
• If the full text isn’t available in your search
results. Look for the button.
• Link to full tex...
6. Get the citation information. You
need this for your bibliography.
You list the works you cite so that readers
interest...
Most plagiarism that happens at UC
San Diego is accidental.
7. Evaluate the items you find.
• Does it answer the
question?
• What are the
author’s credentials?
– And what sources do
...
8. Try different tools & Repeat
until you have enough
to write your paper!
• Check the help screens or guides to
each data...
To Recap
1. Start with a question or topic.
2. Think about where the answer—or a
piece of the puzzle—might have been
artic...
POLI 122 Library Research Guide
POLI 122 Library Research Guide
POLI 122 Library Research Guide
POLI 122 Library Research Guide
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POLI 122 Library Research Guide

  1. 1. Library Research Step by Step For Political Science 122
  2. 2. The Research Process in a Nutshell 1. Start with a question or topic. 2. Think about where the answer—or a piece of the puzzle—might have been articulated. 3. Choose tools that will help you find those publications/information sources. 4. Use those tools to find information you can use. 5. Repeat.
  3. 3. 0. Before you get started • The licenses for most of our research tools require that users are on UCSD IP addresses – Are you on the wireless network at UCSD? • Make sure you’re using the UCSD-PROTECTED network. – Are you off-campus? • Make sure you’re using the VPN
  4. 4. 1. Choose your research question, hypothesis, or topic and keywords • Develop your research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement – Amnesty International says that electric car makers should be more concerned about child labor used in mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo • Break that statement into key concepts, – Child labor, mining, cobalt, Democratic Republic of Congo, electric car makers • Think of other ways to phrase those concepts. Use synonyms. Consider more specific words (to narrow your focus) or more general terms (to expand your search), e.g. – Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC or Africa or developing countries... – child or children or teens or teenagers… – labor or labour or workers or employees... – mining or mines – Electric car makers, corporations, corporate social responsibility, supply chain… – rights or regulations or laws or legislation…
  5. 5. Try it yourself – 2 minutes 1. Take 1 minute to jot down your research topic, so at least you have an idea on paper, even if it’s vague. (No one else will see this). 2. Take another 1 minute to brainstorm: What are some terms you would expect to see in a publication about your problem?
  6. 6. 2. Choose tools that might be useful for this project. • You want a variety of – Background sources – Exhibits or Evidence sources – Argument sources – Method or Theory sources • Each tool helps you find a specific, limited kind and amount of information. • Knowing which tools might help you find what you're looking for will save you lots of time.
  7. 7. Books Books typically cover a single topic in depth. Look in an online library catalog like (UC San Diego’s library catalog) • Tip: Many of the Library’s books are now ebooks. Use to find the link. • Tip: Not enough at UC San Diego, or the book you want checked out? – Try to request books from other San Diego libraries – Try to request books from other University of California libraries
  8. 8. Scholarly Articles Scholarly articles cover more specific topics than books. Because they are shorter, they are often published a little more quickly, making them somewhat more current. The Library has literally hundreds of databases for finding articles.
  9. 9. Primary Sources Primary sources are materials that document the event when it happened—or as close to when it happened as possible. Examples include: • News: newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media • Government publications and official documents • First person accounts: diaries, letters, oral histories, blogs, social media…
  10. 10. Statistics & Datasets Generally available in specialized databases or directly from the researchers as • Aggregate/statistics (numbers already analyzed) • Microdata (lowest level of collection)
  11. 11. Information Timeline Graphic by adstarkel. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  12. 12. Try it yourself – 5 minutes 1. Take 1 minute think about which types of sources (books, scholarly articles, news, reports, etc.) are most useful for this project. 2. Then spend 4 minutes reading descriptions of tools (databases) and choose at least 3 that look like they will lead you to useful sources.
  13. 13. The Librarian’s Favorites • Scholarly articles – Worldwide Political Science Abstracts – all ProQuest databases – all EBSCOhost databases – Melvyl • News – Access World News – LexisNexis – Factiva • Reports – Google Custom Search engines (for IGOs, NGOs, think tanks, government information from around the world)
  14. 14. 3. Choose your search strategies for each research tool. • In most databases, you can combine terms with and (both terms must appear in the hit)and or (one term must appear in the hit—for synonyms or evenly weighted terms) – child labor and mining; supply chain or corporate social responsibility • In many databases, you can use a symbol such as * or ! to take the place of letters to get hits with multiple endings of a word – child* • In many databases, you can combine words together into phrases using quotation marks – “child labor” • Example search: ("child labor" or "child labour") and (mining or "supply chain" or "corporate social responsibility“)
  15. 15. Try it yourself – 1 minute • Take 1 minute to develop a keyword search strategy using some of the keywords you brainstormed in part 1. – As appropriate, use AND’s, OR’s, truncation, and/or phrases
  16. 16. 4. Refine your search with limits. • Most databases have some sort of limits you can apply, for example: – date ranges – publication types (e.g., scholarly articles, dissertations, book chapters, etc.) – languages – peer reviewed articles • When you find good hits, look at the subject headings. These are controlled vocabulary assigned to describe the topic in the database. Also skim the abstracts for additional keywords. Try running new searches using those terms. • Find more citations by looking at the bibliography/cited references of sources you find. Sometimes these citations are included in the database. (Also read the literature review in the article itself.) • Find more citations by looking at sources that cite the sources you find. Look for a times cited link in the database. (If your database doesn’t have this, Google Scholar does.) This is an especially good way to find core articles (and theory!) on your topic.
  17. 17. How to tell if a source is peer reviewed • Use a database and its “peer reviewed” limits/filters • Google the source/publication title and check the description in “journal information” or “about this journal” • Check a directory like Ulrich’s
  18. 18. 5. Get the actual item. • If the full text isn’t available in your search results. Look for the button. • Link to full text if available. • No full text? – Try for the print • No UCSD access at all? – You can usually request the item from another library using the link. – For books, try or
  19. 19. 6. Get the citation information. You need this for your bibliography. You list the works you cite so that readers interested in your research can find and read the resources you used to draw your conclusions. • Email records to yourself as a backup. • Some databases can export the citation in a specific format (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA) • Use Zotero, EndNote Web, or Mendeley to manage, store, and format your citations
  20. 20. Most plagiarism that happens at UC San Diego is accidental.
  21. 21. 7. Evaluate the items you find. • Does it answer the question? • What are the author’s credentials? – And what sources do they cite? • Is the source current enough for the kind of research you're doing?
  22. 22. 8. Try different tools & Repeat until you have enough to write your paper! • Check the help screens or guides to each database for specifics on combining your terms and whether your results are ranked by date or relevance. • When you find good hits, look at the subject headings/descriptors. Try running new searches using those terms.
  23. 23. To Recap 1. Start with a question or topic. 2. Think about where the answer—or a piece of the puzzle—might have been articulated. 3. Choose tools that will help you find those publications/information sources. 4. Use those tools to find information you can use. 5. Repeat.

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