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GEOG/URBS 248: Housing Crises and Activism

Social Science Librarian

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Elizabeth Salmon
Main Library Rm. 117
(845) 437-5767

Workshop Materials


Workshop context: Upcoming Project Proposal & Final Project

"...your chance to formulate a line of inquiry that genuinely interests you...all of these arenas require an initial process of iterative exploration and a survey of available literatures."

  • Quick overview of library services & resources.
  • Journals & other sources for topic development & inspiration 

Craft effective searches starting from a general topic or research question.

  • Activity: brainstorm search terms

Identify and navigate resources and search tools, i.e. library databases, to locate relevant literature- books, journals and articles.

  • Identify and select databases based on research interests and needs. 
  • Obtain evidence (in various formats, i.e. books, articles, etc.) to inform your arguments and research. 

Database demo & practice 

  • Library Search 
  • Multidisciplinary databases
  • Discipline specific databases

Obtain citation information to appropriately cite sources

  • Citation tools & guides

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. Consider setting up article and table of content alerts.

#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 the the field and browse their publications.  
#6 Switch up your searches.  Use promising new terminologyYour search may become more sophisticated.