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We are excited to share our new Library catalog and search tool! We hope that you will find it easy to search and explore our collections. If you need help, have questions, or want to share feedback, visit the Ask a Librarian page.

Urban Studies

Recommended resources for getting started with research in Urban Studies

Workshop Materials

Workshop Goals

1. Apply methods and strategies for locating and obtaining resources to:

  • explore potential topics of interest
  • learn the scholarly conversations (and questions) around your topic
  • identify evidence (in various formats) to inform your contribution to the conversation 

2. Access and use tools and services to support and facilitate your research process, for exp. databases, InterLibrary Loan, Zotero, synthesis grids. 

Agenda

Part I

Break

Part II: Independent exploration

You will likely go through the search process a number of times, performing different searches with different keyword combinations, to address the different components of your topic.

Systematic Searching Handsearching
#1 Identify your question. Identify the key concepts and related terms. Tip:  You may want to re-phrase your question. Background reading can help you identify related terms and further define or narrow your topic.  Explore reference lists to locate other articles, books, or authors who have written on the same topic. 
#2 Find an appropriate search tool. Consider your subject matter, discipline of study, type of information needed (e.g. peer reviewed articles) Locate cited by literature to view more recent similar or adjacent research.

#3 Start with a simple search based on your key concepts. Tip: You may also have to look at literature that refers to one (not all) aspects of your research question.

Browse the table of contents of relevant journals and special issues.

#4 Use specific search strategies.

  • Use AND to join dissimilar terms.
  • Use OR to join synonyms or related terms.
  • Truncate words with * to pick up variations of that word. 
  • Use "quotation marks" for phrase searching
  • Use database limiters e.g. limit to scholarly journals. 
  • Consider searching in a specific field e.g. title (article title) or source (journal title.)
Review bibliographies or reading lists to locate recommended or key resources.
#5 Search and skim results. Look for the language and terms that researchers use and that the database assigns to articles (Subjects). Locate an expert Locate an expert the the field and browse their publications.  
#6 Switch up your searches.  Use promising new terminologyYour search may become more sophisticated.  

Synthesis grids are organizational tools used to record the main concepts of your sources and can help you make connections about how your sources relate to one another.

Vassar's Institutional Repository: Urban Studies Theses