- First steps: research question and literature review
- The Library system
- Unique things to know
- Constructing a search string
- How to tell if a journal is peer-reviewed
- Citation Metrics
- Create a "controlled vocabulary"
- Dissertations and Theses
- Managing Citations
- Services for Graduate Students
- Reading research articles
- Further Reading:
- Graduate School in General
- Graduate Theses Manuals
- Geography/Environmental Studies Research Manuals
- General Library Research Manuals
To book a research consultation
Use my Appointment booking calendar
Who to contact at University of Waterloo
- Marian Davies, Geography and Environmental Management Librarian
- UW Library Research contact form for Marian Davies
First steps: research question and literature review
- Planning a literature review: video (5:10) with tips on searching, analysing, and organizing sources for your literature review
- Generating research questions and keywords:
- How to become a literature searching ninja (the Thesis Whisperer)
- Developing a research question: for graduate students (a short, general video)
- Healey, M. and Healey, R. L. (2015). "How to conduct a literature review," in Clifford, N.J. et al. (eds). (2015). Key methods in geography. London: SAGE Publications. (short chapter (6.4.4), available in Google Books)
- White, P. (2009). Developing research questions : A guide for social scientists. Basingstoke [England] ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
The Library System
- Omni: use to access print books and e-books; individual journals; best for scholarly books
- 3 search scopes available: 1) Laurier Libraries; 2) Laurier+Waterloo+Guelph Libraries; 3) Laurier+Omni Libraries
- Details on delivery times available here
- Databases: access to the greater “information ecosystem"; best to use for peer-reviewed articles
- UW Special Collections & Archives/WLU Archives: for local “restricted” collections
- Interlibrary Loan (RACER): to request wide print materials outside Omni libraries; use for both books and journal articles
- NOTE: Some of these services are limited our unavailable due to Covid-19 pandemic
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
- 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?
- Many databases, e.g. ProQuest; EBSCO, allow limit to peer-reviewed articles by check box
- Other databases, e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Geobase, do not have peer-reviewed check box limiter
- In this case, you should limit results to "Articles" on the left side menu; this usually removes non-peer-reviewed materials such as conference proceedings, chapters, book reviews, opinion articles, and letters to the editor
- If in doubt whether an article is from a peer-reviewed journal
- Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory - do a title search and look for the "referee" symbol
- Visit the web site of the journal, check their "About" section to determine if it is peer-reviewed, and what the process is
- For a definition and discussion of "predatory journals see Grudniewicz, A., Moher, D., Cobey, K. D., Bryson, G. L., Cukier, S., Allen, K., ... & Lalu, M. M. (2019). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature 576, 210-212. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y
Citation Metrics/Impact of Research
- Journal Impact Factor: from InCites Journal Citation Reports, through Web of Science
- Eigenfactor: alternate metric showing "article's importance to the scientific community" from Eigenfactor.org
- SciMago Journal and Country rank: publicly available portal showing journals and country scientific indicators developed from information in the Scopus database
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
- Getting started with Zotero (video)
- Using Mendeley's plug-in for Word (video)
- Using Zotero's plug-in for Word (video)
- Zotero or Mendeley: which one is best? (video)
Services for Graduate Students
- Click relevant links below for more information on additional Research Workshops, information on the Joint Programme, Graduate Commons Study Space, and more. Note: some services are limited or cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic.
- Services for graduate students from the Laurier Library
- Services for graduate students from the UW Library
- List of Ontario University Libraries
- Note: University of Toronto has limits on who may use materials; External researchers (Grad Students, Faculty, or staff from other Canadian Universities) must purchase a Direct Borrower card
Reading research articles
- How to read a scientific paper. From Elsevier.
- How to read and understand a scientific article. From University Affairs.
- How to read a scientific article. From Rice University
* - Faculty recommendation
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.
- Intended for Undergraduates but still has good information for all stages of writing a dissertation.
- ebook - UW Copy
- ebook - WLU Copy
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.
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.