- 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
To book a research consultation
Use my Appointment booking calendar
Who to contact at University of Waterloo
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
- White, P. (2009). Developing research questions : A guide for social scientists. Basingstoke [England] ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
The Library System
- Primo: use to access print books and e-books; individual journals; best for scholarly books
- 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): access to world-wide print materials; use for both books and journal articles
Unique things to know
- Use Primo primarily for books
- Primo 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
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
- Database of Doctoral and Masters" dissertations
- See Laurier's Theses and Dissertations page - look for the 1st link to the ProQuest database
- Every dissertation should have a literature review section
- Often 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)
- Click above for more information on additional Research Workshops, information on the Joint Programme, Graduate Commons Study Space, and more!
- 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
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.
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)
- Healey, M. and R. L. Healey. 2015. "How to conduct a literature review," in Clifford, N.J. et al. (eds). 2015. Key methods in geography. London: SAGE Publications. (chapter available in Google Books)
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.