|A great resource for help with the research process : research design, methodology, data collection & analysis etc.|
What might have been a "good enough" search for resources when you were an undergraduate, may not cut it as a graduate student: you will need to dig deeper and expand your universe, be better organized and more analytical. The resources discussed on this course site should help.
Broaden your horizons:
- go beyond our own library's collection: U of O, reciprocal borrowing, WorldCat, RACER (Interlibrary Loans)
- delve into new types of material: find theses, conference proceedings
- improve your searches by using thesauri and subject terms, following citation trails
Organize & analyze
- Citation managment tools: Mendeley, Zotero
- NVivo: qualitative data analysis
- Writing help, e.g. for literature reviews
There is no single prescribed way to do research: a good researcher will use a variety of sources and techniques and will understand that it is an iterative process. The following are just some of the steps you can take
- Do some background reading, for example in encyclopedias, introductory texts. This is particularly useful if you are starting research in a topic you are not too familiar with. This can provide overviews, context, and specialized vocabulary. Examples are:
- Talk to people: ask a classmate or a professor if they can recommend readings for a particular topic
The basis of just about any search is a keyword search, but there is a lot you can do to improve on a basic 1 or 2 word search
- Use advanced search screens: often they will have extra search parameters you can use
- Use truncation: most databases will let you use the * to pick up all forms of a particular word. Use it at the end of the root of a word. Example: technolog* will allow you to find not just "technology" but also technological, technologic, technologically....
- Make full use of all boolean capabilities (AND, OR, NEAR, NOT...), field searching, phrase searching, quotations...
For more information on searching in Omni see our Omni Help page. When searching other databases, look for links to help or search tips to find out what you can do there.
- Use correct terminology: most disciplines have very specific terminology that you may not be familiar with if you are just starting to research the subject areas. You can pick up on the vocabulary a number of ways:
- Do background reading (encyclopedias, introductory chapters in books, review articles..)
- Listen: in lectures, when there are guest speakers
- Browse abstracts of journal articles
- Look at assigned subject terms/descriptors that many databases assign to articles
- Use built-in thesauri that some databases have, e.g. LLBA, ERIC, Sociological Abstracts and browse for possible terms to use
- Use synonyms: Before you do your search, try and think if there are any commonly used synonyms for your keyword that might be useful. (background reading can be helpful in pointing some of these out). Example: if I am interested in second language learning in universities I might try searching for: universit* OR higher education OR college* OR undergraduate*
- If a database comes with a thesaurus explore it for suggested terminology and then use these terms in your search
Example: the link to the LLBA thesaurus in Proquest
Example: Thesaurus entry for "Language Acquisition. Note the broader, narrower, and related terms.
Follow citation trails
- Follow citation trails, in both directions:
- Look for links in databases to sources that have cited the article/book/essay more recently. This can lead you to the most current research on a topic
- Pay attention to the sources cited by books/articles you find: this can help you find foundational research in a given area
- Look for links to "related articles": these are sources that either share a number of cited references with the item you are looking at, or could be ones that other people who have looked at the article you found also looked at.
There are many ways to find relevant information beyond just searching in our databases. Don't discount using an interesting book or article as the jumping off point for other sources
- Trace backward: Use the list of references that come with books and journal articles (may sound obvious, but often overlooked!)
- Trace forward: we have a number of resources that will help you find out who may have cited a particular book or journal article more recently. The following databases all allow you to see who has cited something (See our Cited Reference Searching for more information):
Web of Science (covers Science, Social Sciences, and Arts & Humanities)
Note that you can register for a Web of Science account, which will then allow you to set up a citation alert to get notified whenever someone else cites this article:
On the search results page and on the page for individual articles you will see a link to the articles that have cited the one you are interested in. If you register for a Scopus account, you can then set up a citation alert (bell icon in upper right of screen) to be notified if someone new cites the article.
- Omni : the one-search box on the Library's home page. Look for a specific title, or use keywords to find books and articles on a topic.
Use the filters on the results page to refine your search results. For example you can limit to just books or just journal articles.
During the COVID-19 closure of the building, you can use the "available online" filter to exclude print items in the library
- Our subject or discipline specific databases may allow you to find sources you can't find through Omni. They may also include other features that Omni does not have. All will let you find journal articles. Some will also include other types of resources such as books, book chapters, theses.
- LLBA is a database specializing in topics related to languages and linguistics;
- ERIC is a database that specializes in all areas of Education,
- LearnTechLib (formerly EdITLib) specializes in resources related to use of technology in education...
- Scopus Multidisciplinary for sciences and social sciences with times cited info and links to citing articles plus lots of ways to analyze your results
- Web of Science Core Collection Multidisciplinary for all subject areas with times cited info and links to citing articles plus lots of ways to analyze your results
- You can find a list of recommended databases on the Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies Subject Guide
Beyond Carleton's collection
- RACER is our online interlibrary loan system. Use it to search for and order books, journal articles, and other items that you can't find in our collection. Delivery usually takes 2-10 days depending on the type of material (journal articles arrive fastest) and from where it is being sent.
- CRL catalog (Center for Research Libraries) : Collects research materials not targeted by other North American research institutions. We are a member which allows you to get long-term loans of much of their material.
- WorldCat: Search the library catalogues of 1000's of libraries around the world. You can get an idea of the importance of a book by seeing how many libraries have it in their collection
- Borrowing directly from other libraries: We participate in a number of partnerships allowing you to borrow in person from libraries across the country and the rest of North America
Adding to our Library's Collection
- You can also send a purchase suggestion to us! If our budget allows and the item falls within our collection profile, we can usually purchase suggested titles. These can be placed directly on Hold for you (if we buy a print version)
The last thing you want to find out as you are about to defend your thesis is that someone else has already done what you are doing! One way to avoid this is to make sure you are aware of not just the current journal literature, but of recent theses that have been completed.
We have a number of databases that will allow you to search for theses. They include:
- CURVE: This is the Carleton University institutional repository. It collects, preserves and provides open access to the academic, research output and creative works of Carleton faculty and scholars. One of its collections is CU theses & dissertations.
- Dissertations and Theses Global Covers all the same theses from the former Dissertations & Theses Full Text (full-text of North American theses) and Dissertations & Theses: UK and Ireland (selected full-text, others may be found in the EThOS database listed below) plus it now adds more international coverage of some European and Chinese theses.
- EThOS The UK’s national thesis service, provides a record of all doctoral dissertations with a growing number of them in full-text
- Theses Canada / Thèses Canada
- Center for Research Libraries: Foreign Doctoral Dissertations
- Trove : To find Australian theses, go to the advanced search screen, and choose "format" to be "thesis"
For more information see our Theses & Dissertations page
You don't want to work in isolation. There are lots of ways to find others who might be working on similar projects to you
- Linguist List: (not just linguistics, but applied languages as well). Join the listserv for notices of new publications, jobs, call for papers, ask questions or answer ones posted by others, check out their "people and programs" area which lists for example language related blogs...
- Mendeley lets you see if there are other account holders who share your research interests. Invite them as colleagues, choose to follow them....
- Save time and be organized by using some kind of citation managment tool such as Zotero, Mendeley ... for all of the references you are collecting during your research
- Most tools can turn your references into properly formatted bibliographies, and with additional plug-ins they can allow you to easily insert your citations into your papers as you write.
- See our Citation Management page for more information.
- We provide one-on-one support for a number of these tools
Research Data Management & Quantitative Data
- A Research Data Management Plan is now often required when applying to major funding agencies for research grants.
- See our RDM page for more information and help with these plans.
- Check the Grad Professional Development series of workshops to see if a Research Data Management Workshop is being offered
- Our Data centre also provides statistical consulting for the following statistical software:
If you are going to be doing your own research project you will be collecting data: quantitative, qualitative or a bit of both.
- NVivo is software that can help in the organization and analysis of QUALITATIVE data.
- See our NVivo page for details on how you can obtain your own copy of the software, links to supporting documentation, and contact info for on-campus help.
Many of you may be working towards having some of your work published as journal articles and others may be looking for help with writing your thesis, or you may have to write a literature review for a class. You may find the following links useful.
Writing a Literature Review:
A few quick online guides:
- Conducting a literature review (MacOdrum Library, Carleton)
- How to write a literature review (Concordia University libraries)
- The literature review: A few tips on conducting it (University of Toronto)
- Writing a literature review (University of Toronto, Scarborough Writing Centre)
You can find examples of literature reviews in books and journal articles, try searching for the phrase "literature review". Here is an example:
Liang, X., Mohan, B. A., & Early, M. (1998). Issues of cooperative learning in ESL classes: A literature review. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL Du Canada, 15(2), 13-23 [link to pdf]
More detailed information on literature reviews can be found in these books from our collection:
NOTE: print books can be requested via our curbside service (for pick up or mailing) during COVID closure
- Harris, D. (2020). Literature review and research design : a guide to effective research practice.
- Hempel, S. (2020). Conducting your literature review.
- Machi, L.A. & McEvoy, B. T. (2016).The literature review : six steps to success. 3rd ed.
- Booth, A. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review
Call Number: LB1047.3 .B66 2016
- Feak, C. B & Swales, J. M. (2009). Telling a research story : writing a literature review.
Call Number: LB2369.F43 2009
- Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Frels, R. (2016). 7 steps to a comprehensive literature review : a multimodal & cultural approach.
- Call Number: LB2369 .O59 2016
- Ridley, D. (2012). The literature review : a step-by-step guide for students. 2nd ed.
Call Number: LB2369 .R525 2012
Publishing Journal Articles:
Writing for Scholarly Journals: a series of short video screencasts with accompanying documentation on a variety of topics such as What has been written on my topic? and more
Books in our collection:
- Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing
- Academic Writer's Toolkit: A User's Manual
- Try a keyword search for the phrase "Academic writing" for many more
Deciding where you want to publish your article:
- CURIE Fund: Think you might like to publish in an open access journal? Then look into this fund which is a pilot project to provide funds for the reimbursement of reasonable article processing fees for articles authored or co-authored by Carleton researchers published in eligible peer-reviewed open access journals
- Journal Citation Reports: lets you see how journals in various disciplines are ranked by measures such as impact factor (average number of citations per article).
- Do a search on your topic in one of our journal article databases (e.g. Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts) and on the results page look to see if they let you filter your results by title of journal: gives you a quick way to see which journals publish the most on a particular topic [keep in mind though that some journals publish more issues per year than others, so this might skew listings]
- Thesis requirements: from the Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Affairs, checklists, templates...
- Check the list of Grad Navigate workshops to see if there are any offer specifically for help with thesis writing
Sample of books that might be of help:
NOTE: print books can be requested via our curbside service (for pick up or mailing) during COVID closure
- Axelrod, B.N. (2012). Dissertation solutions: A concise guide to planning, implementing, and surviving the dissertation process.
- Bichener, J. (2010). Writing an applied linguistics thesis or dissertation : a guide to presenting empirical research.
- Biggam, J. (2011). Succeeding with your master's dissertation : a step-by-step handbook.
- Blair, L. (2016). Writing a graduate thesis or dissertation
- Bloomberg, L. D. & Volpe, M. (2016). Completing your qualitative dissertation : A road map from beginning to end. 3rd ed.
- Casanave, C. P. & Swales, J. M. (2014). Before the dissertation : a textual mentor for doctoral students at early stages of a research project.
- Locke, L. F. (2014). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals
- Lunenburg, F. C. & Irby, B. J. (2008). Writing a successful thesis or dissertation : tips and strategies for students in the social and behavioral sciences.
- Murray, R. (2011). How to write a thesis
- Single, P. B. (2010). Demystifying dissertation writing : a streamlined process from choice of topic to final text.
- Terrell, S.R. (2016). Writing a proposal for your dissertation: Guidelines and examples
- Wentz, E. A. (2013). How to design, write, and present a successful dissertation proposal