Top Banner Image

Environmental Design Library @ UC Berkeley

About Hours Giving Contact us

Thesis and Dissertation Research

Thesis and Dissertation Research is a strategic bibliographic guide for architecture, city planning, urban design, and landscape architecture graduate students beginning their professional report, thesis, or dissertation work. The guide will be especially helpful to students starting a literature review.

UC Berkeley faculty, registered students, and staff who are off campus may use items marked UCB Only or UC Only by using The Library's off-campus access services.

Compiled by Elizabeth Byrne and Deborah Sommer. Updated April 2013 by Tam Vuong.

Getting Started Deconstruct Your Topic | Proposals | Writing | Literature Reviews | Style Manuals | Citation Management

To get started, check out Library Services for Graduate Students for a description of the many practical library support services available. As your research takes you into unfamiliar disciplines remember to identify the library subject specialist(s) best placed to help you.

Deconstruct Your Topic

Deconstruct your topic to uncover its complexities and hidden conceptual connections, to focus your research, and to increase your search vocabulary. Another term for deconstructing a research question is 'concept mapping;' see the Rhode Island School of Design Library's slide show, Concept Mapping, for a visual tutorial.

Developing Proposals

Note that many of the books listed in the General Research Methods section also include good advice on how to put together a proposal.


Selection of titles to get you started on your writing journey. Find more: Search the library catalogs by subject--Dissertations, Academic.

Is English grammar a challenge? See The Little, Brown Handbook, H. Ramsey Fowler, Jane E. Aaron. New York: Longman, 2010.

Writing Advice by Discipline

Selection of titles on writing, focusing on specific discipline requirements.

Literature Reviews

Note that information on writing literature reviews is also available in some of the general writing and research titles listed in this guide.

Style Manuals

Find more: Search the library catalogs by subject--Authorship. Style manuals.

Citation Management

Managing bibliographic citations is a necessary and tedious aspect of written research. Use the following computer-based bibliographic management programs to manage citations, format papers, and create bibliographies in a variety of styles. Each program allows you to download citation information directly from selected online databases into your own bibliographic database.


Research Methods General | Case Studies | Fieldwork | Interpreting the Built Environment | Interviewing | Making Presentations | Doing Local History | Using Images and Maps

Find more: Search the library catalogs by subject: Social sciences--Methodology or Research--Methodology.


Case Studies and Projects

Where can you find case studies?

Case Study Methodology Case Study Sources


Interpreting the Built Environment


Doing interviews? See the UC Berkeley, Office for the Protection of Human Subjects requirements.

Making Presentations

Doing Local History

Using Maps and Images for Research

See also the visual resources section of this guide. Find more: Search the library catalogs by subject: Visual sociology or Photography in the social sciences.


Finding the Basics Books | Journal Articles | News Articles | Maps and Images | Statistics and Data | Research Guides | Web Searching | Campus Libraries

If we don't own what you need, you can try to borrow it from another library. Use the Interlibrary Borrowing Service - UCB Only. Make your request at any reference desk or online. UCB faculty and grad students may also request materials directly from Stanford University and the University of Texas, Austin, via the Research Library Cooperative Program.

Finding Books

Finding Journal Articles

For off-campus access to The Library's online resources use The Library's off-campus access services.

Finding Newspaper Articles

Use the geographic card file in Newspapers and Microforms, 1st Floor, Doe Library, to identify newspapers by location. For newspapers on the web via The Library's Web site, in Articles select News Article Databases. These databases are available for UCB students, faculty, and staff only.

Finding Maps and Images

See also Image and Sound Databases or the Using Images for Research section of this guide.

Finding Statistics and Data

For assistance using data sets and analytical software, consult with the Data Lab.

Research Guides

Here's a selected list of topical research guides to UC Berkeley library and web resources. See also Environmental Design Library Guides for a complete list of subject guides and useful research tools.

Searching the Web

Campus Libraries

Selection of campus libraries; see also the comprehensive list of libraries and collections and a map of campus libraries.


Specialized Research Resources Archives | Biography | Book Reviews | Citation Indexes | Dissertations | EIRs | General Plans | Organizations | Proceedings |


An archive is a collection containing original records, documents, images, drawings, correspondence, or other materials. For a researcher, archives are a treasure house of primary resources. See Archival Collections and Primary Source Databases for additional archival sources.


Additional electronic biographical resources are available from The Library's home page: go to Electronic Resources; select "Electronic resources: A-Z," and choose Biographical Sources.

Book Reviews

Note that in several journal article databases you may limit your search to reviews.

Citation Indexes

Use citation indexes to track the work and impact of a particular author. Also a good way to identify other authors working on the same topic. The following citation indexes help you discover where a particular article is cited.


Dissertations not owned by UC Berkeley may be purchased or borrowed through Interlibrary Service. Note that ordinary Melvyl subject searches will frequently miss dissertations which often are not given subject treatment; in Advanced Search use main title searches in combination with format=dissertations.

Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs)

Building Codes and Technical Literature

General Plans


Community and professional organizations can be valuable information resources, e.g., local historical societies; neighborhood planning groups; regional and national landscape architects' associations.

Some directories are available in the Environmental Design Library and many organizations have web sites. See also the following online guides for listings as noted:


Papers from proceedings, colloquia, etc., are indexed somewhat haphazardly through journal article indexes. Note types of materials covered when using an unfamiliar index.