Jerry Adams, Subject Librarian, 2420 HBLL
Why Use A Research Guide?
This step by step guide has been developed by BYU Librarians to save you time and help you produce a better research paper. It will guide you through the library research process and will inform you of the best resources for your topic. If you need assistance at any point, please ask for help at a Reference Desk.
[If you are not affiliated with the University, you may not have access to the resources included here.]
1. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) (Located on all References Desks, and also through the Browse-Subject catalog search--please ask at Reference for assistance.)
2. Dictionary of Concepts in Physical Geography (Science Reference GB10 .H82 1988 )
3. Dictionary of Concepts in Human Geography (Social Science Reference GF4 .L37 1983)
The following are some sources for
background information in geography. Be sure to browse the shelves near each of
these volumes for other helpful information.
Companion Encyclopedia of Geography : the Environment and Humankind (Science Reference G116 .C645 1996)
Oxford Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peoples and Cultures (Social Science Reference GN11 .O94 1992)
Encyclopedia of Geomorphology (Science Reference GB 400.3 .E53 2004)
Encyclopedia of the First World (Social Science Reference G63 .K87 1990)
Encyclopedia of deserts (Science Reference GB611 .E65 1999)
With background gleaned from the above sources, you should have an awareness of the various sub-divisions of your topic, and the issues of your topic that are being discussed and researched. You are now prepared to narrow the scope of your research and then to form and write out an "issue question" which you can research.
For example: “How do the size and spacing of cities play a role in central place theory?"
Example: "How do the size and spacing of cities play a role in central place theory?"
Using the following chart, place the keywords in separate concept boxes. Add additional synonymous terms from your terminology list within each concept box.
Central Place Theory
How to phrase a "keyword" search
The researcher uses articles published in current periodicals (magazines/journals) to get the most current research. A variety of periodical indexes (databases) are available on the Library Home Page by selecting Resources by Subject. Select the specific discipline desired, such as Geology. Recommended databases are listed first.
If you have any questions, please check with the subject librarian for assistance. The following periodical indexes are recommended:
1. GeoRef (EBSCO) – Online from 1785-present for the geology of North America and from 1933-present for geology of the world.
2. Geobase - (FirstSearch) – Online from 1980-present.
3. Web of Science – Online from 1984-present
There are also two indexes which may be helpful. These two, Research Library (ProQuest) and Academic Search Elite (EBSCO), have the advantage of having many articles available in full text. As you find references to journal articles, be sure to list, print out, or down load the full bibliographic information (author, title, name of Journal, vol #, month, year, page, etc.)
From the Library Home Page, select the Alphabetic Search to find authors and titles related to your topic you found listed in bibliographies. For your combined key word search, select the Advanced Search which provides boxes for you to enter your key word search. The Alphabetic Search also allows you to search valid subject headings as located in the LCSH listing. If you are unfamiliar with how to search the Library Catalog, click on "HELP" or you may consult the instruction booklet Library Research Skills available at General Referene and for purchase at the BYU Bookstore. Remember to copy down or print out complete call numbers and citations as you gather information.
If Internet resources are needed/allowed, first use those recommended by the subject librarian under your subject after selecting "Resources by Subject" from the Library Home Page.
For example, GeoSource, includes organizations, journals, and statistical agencies.
Remember to watch the screens for search "tips" or "helps" or "Advanced Search" buttons which will use many of the Boolean concepts discussed. Sometimes thousands of hits will be found, but remember to use caution, as most will not be reliable or scholarly. As you evaluate Internet resources, you may find clues in the URL (address) which can alert you to the type of agency responsible for that site thus helping you assess its credibility. .edu or .gov (educational or government) are usually more facutal, while .org or .com (organization or commercial) usually express more of an opinion or try to persuade the reader.
1. Bibliographies: When you find good material, pay attention to the bibliographic references listed in that item.
2. Interlibrary Loan: If our library does not have the title, you can order it on Interlibrary Loan on Level 3. It will average 10 days but could take 2 weeks. The cost to receive articles is $.10/page and books are sent free of charge.
3. Citation Indexes: Additional material can be found by looking for who has cited the articles and books you consider of value. Find citations in the Science Citation Index.
Use the following
criteria as you attempt to evaluate your resources:
Is the information scholarly and accurate? What clues are present to help you judge accuracy--footnotes, bibliography, credits, quotations?
What are the author's qualifications? Is she affiliated with a university or other scholarly institute? Was content peer-reviewed (Scholarly journal)?
Is this a primary source (author's own research) or secondary? Is she objective, biased, or trying to sway the reader?
How recently was the information published or updated?
You are now ready to write your paper.