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Professional Skills Development for Masters Students/Doctoral Students

Course Number: GG700-800

To book a research consultation

Use my Appointment booking calendar

Who to contact at University of Waterloo

First steps: research question and literature review
The Library System
Unique things to know
  • Use Omni primarily for books
  • Omni IS case sensitive = use AND, OR, NOT to connect your search terms
  • You can "virtually browse" the shelves using the Virtual Browse link on an individual title
Constructing a search string

Most databases:

  • Use connectors (Boolean operators) to combine terms Watch our video Better Searching using AND, OR NOT
    • AND = use between search terms to retrieve ALL the words in each record
    • OR = use to search related terms/synonyms on the same topic
    • NOT = excludes words or phrases, but should be used judiciously
    • " " = phrase search, exact words in a particular order
    • * = truncation, searches for different forms of a word (variant spellings)
    • ? = wildcard, searches for variant spellings of one letter, e.g. colo?r searches for color, colour
    • Most databases have good "Help" resources on Boolean/Advanced searching; good to check these out before you start; they have advance features not discussed in detail in class
How to tell if a journal is scholarly/peer-reviewed/refereed?
Citation Metrics/Impact of Research
Create a "controlled vocabulary"
  • AKA: Index, Thesaurus, list of Keywords, Subject Headings
  • You need to identify centrally important concepts in your research area and create fixed definitions for them (Abbott, 2014)
  • Assists you in searching, categorizing, analysis and write up
  • Especially important when doing systematic reviews or being careful in replicating research
One database every graduate student should know: Dissertations & Theses
  • This is a database of Doctoral dissertations and Master's theses
  • Laurier access - see the Theses and Dissertations page - look for the 1st link to the ProQuest database
  • U. Waterloo access - see the Dissertations and Theses page - it's the 1st result listed
    • Every dissertation should have a literature review section
    • A thesis will often provide a more comprehensive "review" of the literature
Managing Citations
Services for Graduate Students
Reading research articles
GG700/800 YouTube Video Tutorials (with contents)

Online Graduate Library Research Workshop: Introduction

2:30 How to contact
4:05 UW Geography Librarian contact information

Part 1.2: Academic Information Ecosystem    

Part 2.1: From Research Question to Search Strategy    

0:10 Topics
0:36 Research questions
1:05 Generating research questions and keywords
2:42 Research question example: mapping
6:53 Creating a research thesaurus/controlled vocabulary
10:04 How to create?

Part 2.2: Research Database demo    

0:03 controlled vocabulary search in ProQuest
2:33 controlled vocabulary results in Web of Science

Part 2.3 Creating a Controlled Vocabulary and Search Strategy

0:00 Intro

0:36 Thinking about concepts
2:08 Search example
2:15 Creating a search strategy
2:19 Purpose of a search strategy
3:42 Steps in creating a search strategy
5:27 Example
7:43 Documenting your research

Part 3.1: The Mechanics of Search

0:00 Introduction
1:05 Important caveat!
3:18 Boolean operators
6:19 Phrase searching
7:10 Wildcards and truncation
9:09 Keywords vs. Subject Headings
10:29 Limiters

Part 3.2: The Mechanics of Search, Examples    

0:06 Geobase
5:10 Web of Science
6:14 Omni outlier
7:20 Help in databases

Part 4.1: Managing your Information, Saving searches to a database    

0:24 Assumptions
0:47 Topics
1:54 Saving searches to a database
2:06 Saving searches in ProQuest
4:43 Saving searches in Geobase
5:10 Saving results in Web of Science

Part 4.2: Managing your Information, saving references to a database

0:19 Saving references in ProQuest
1:57 Saving records in Web of Science

Part 4.3: Managing your Information, saving references to a reference manager

0:05 Intro
0:42 Downloading records from Geobase
1:55 Saving records to Mendeley Reference Manager
5:29 Saving records to Zotero
8:10 Working with pdfs in Mendeley
10:35 Working with pdfs in Zotero

Part 4.4: Managing your Information, managing info with a reference manager

0:11 Managing information in Zotero
0:48 Removing duplicates in Zotero
2:06 Creating a bibliography in Zotero
3:31 Mendeley update
4:20 WLU Online workshops



Further Reading

Faculty/Librarian recommendations:

Graduate School in General
  • Haggerty, K., & Doyle, A. (2015). 57 ways to screw up in grad school : perverse professional lessons for graduate students. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Berdahl, L., & Malloy, J. (2018). Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD. University of Toronto Press.
  • Heard, S. (2016). The Scientist’s Guide to Writing : How to Write More Easily and Effectively throughout Your Scientific Career. Princeton University Press.
Graduate Theses Manuals

Parsons, T. and Knight, PG. (2015). How To Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Routledge.

Dollinger, M. (2019). Getting the Most Out of Your Doctorate. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Blair, L. (2016). Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Boston : Brill.

Oliver, P. (2014). Writing your thesis. (Third edition.). SAGE.

Biggam, J. (2015). Succeeding with your master's dissertation : a step-by-step handbook. Berkshire, England : Open University Press

Geography/Environmental Studies Research Manuals
  • These deal more with non-library related components of the research process.

Clifford, N.J. et al. (eds.). 2015. Key methods in geography. London: SAGE Publications. (multiple editions available)

Gomez, B. and J. P. Jones. (eds.). 2010. Research methods in geography : a critical introduction. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hay, I. 2016. Qualitative research methods in human geography (Fourth ed.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

Kanazawa, M. 2018. Research methods for environmental studies : A social science approach. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Montello, D. R. and P. C. Sutton (eds.). (2013). An introduction to scientific research methods in geography and environmental studies. 2nd ed. London: SAGE Publications.

Northey, M., Draper, D., & Knight, D. B. (2015). Making sense : a student’s guide to research and writing : geography and environmental sciences (Sixth edition.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press. Link to Laurier copy and other copies in Omni

General Library Research Manuals

Abbott, A. (2014). Digital paper : a manual for research and writing with library and internet materials. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Abbott is an expert Sociologist and provides a great narrative (Ch. 2, A Library Ethnography) of what detailed library work consists of.

Mann, T. (2015). The Oxford guide to library research. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • A comprehensive look into the entire gamut of library research; covers database searching at the intermediate to expert level.
Indigenous Research

Indigenous Research Guide: Developed at UW "jointly by Indigenous students from the Graduate Students Association, the Office of Research, and the Library..." The guide "is intended to identify Indigenous-related resources that have been marginalized, erased, and ignored because of dominant Western practices in education, scholarship, and library science."

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Last Updated: May 6, 2024 10:41am