Graduate Seminar in Geography

Course #: GG691

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 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

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?

  • 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
    1. Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory - do a title search and look for the "referee" symbol
    2. 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

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

Managing Citations

Services for Graduate Students

  • 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

Further Reading

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.