This course guide introduces students to the research process for finding sources to write a university-level term paper.
Pick a Research topic
- Read your course assignment instructions carefully
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the criteria of the assignment
- Need extra help? Click on Choosing an essay topic
- Developing strong research questions
Do an initial search on Wikipedia to gain background knowledge
- Wikipedia will help you broaden your search terms
- Watch the video: Using Wikepedia Wisely
Identify key concepts by consulting online or print encyclopedias
To find books:
Search Omni, the library's main discovery tool
- find books
- find journal articles
- Need more help? Try Omni Search Tips
- Remember to login first if you are searching from 'off campus'
To find journal articles:
Search specialized databases for Geography - these databases are more focused on geographical research with fewer search results to browse
- GEOBASE - comprehensive coverage of all topics in geography
- Canadian Business & Current Affairs - contains significant Canadian content
- Scopus - multidisciplinary coverage of all topics, half originating from Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific
- Web of Science - multidisciplinary coverage of literature in the sciences, social sciences and humanities
- Google Scholar - access it via the library's web site, large search engine that provides links to full-text articles to which the Carleton Library subscribes and access to free articles via publisher's web sites
Tip: Try browsing the contents of each journal to become familiar with the topics and themes. For help with this, view the Journal Searching feature in Omni.
Identify the main concepts of your research topic and brainstorm possible keywords.
Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to combine concepts and enhance your search
- Use AND to narrow your search
- Use OR to connect synonyms and expanding your search
- Use NOT to eliminate a word, ie: cloning NOT sheep
Use Brackets to group synonyms together, ie: (culture OR customs OR symbols OR values) AND civilization
Use Quotation Marks for phrase searching, ie: "core values"
Use Truncation to broaden your search. The asterisk * at the end of a root word will search various word endings.
- Example: "interpret*" finds "interprets", "interpretation", "interpreter", "interpreted", "interpreting"
Use Wildcards to broaden your search to include words with different spellings
- civili*ation = civilisation, civilization
- wom#n = woman, women
- colo*r = colour, color
Note: Many databases now provide automatic truncation, seamlessly searching for alternate spellings. When this is the case, using your own truncation overrides the system. Try a search first and then use truncation if needed.
Get help with searching:
Get help with identifying sources:
- Evaluating sources: academic, popular, news, and social media articles
- Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
Get help with writing outlines and essays:
Get help with your writing and citing: