ISF 189: Thesis Preparation

Questions? That's my job.

  • Lynn Jones

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  • Office Hours: by appointment
  • Office Location: 212 Doe Library
  • Contact Info:

    510 768-7643

About this Guide

Strategies for preparing to write an ISF thesis.

International topics databases

These three databases are policy and political science oriented.

Find a seminal article

Find an influential article, one that has been cited frequently.  Use the multidisciplinary database Web of Science.

  1. Enter your search terms.
  2. Analyze by Research Area [see left side navigation column]
  3. Choose one or more research areas
  4. Rank the new results by Times Cited, most to least.

Economics and business databases

You have the article information. How do you get the article?

Often you need to find a specific article for which you already have the citation.  How do you do it?

News sources

Where's the PDF?

Many article databases contain information about articles (citations or abstracts), not the entire text of the article.  Once you've used an article database to find articles on your topic, you may need to use this button:uc-eLinks button in order to locate and read the full text of the article. The UC-eLinks button appears in nearly all the databases available from the UCB Library website.

UC-eLinks will link you to the online full text of an article if UCB has paid for online access; otherwise, UC-eLinks will help you locate a print copy on the shelf in the library. If UCB doesn't own the article in print or online format, UC-eLinks can also help you order a copy from another library.

For more information, watch this video tutorial (about 4 min.)

You can also set up UC-eLinks to work with Google Scholar.  For more information, watch this 40-second demo.

IT and New Media databases

For more possibilities, look at the Media Studies databases.

Proxy server

To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.

Searching Library Catalogs

oskicat logo Use OskiCat to locate materials related to your topic, including books, government publications, and  audio and video recordings, in the libraries of UC Berkeley. OskiCat will show you the location and availability of the items that we own.

melvyl logo

Use Melvyl to locate materials related to your topic located at other campuses in the UC system, or worldwide. You can use the Request button to request an item from another library, if we don't own it.

Melvyl has changed as of January 2012, and now includes many more articles.  Detailed Melvyl help

Interlibrary Borrowing

As a Berkeley student you are eligible to use books and articles from other libraries around the United States. 

Check OskiCat  to make sure UC Berkeley does not own the material you want.

Provide a full and accurate bibliographic citation, including author, title, place and date of publication, and series.  You can get citations from professors, from Melvyl, from other articles, from Google scholar.  Verify your citations before submitting them for ILL.

International economics data

Africa Development Indicators.  Detailed collection of data on Africa, containing over 1,600 indicators, covering 53 African countries from 1961 to 2008. Data include social, economic, financial, natural resources, infrastructure, governance, partnership, and environmental indicators.

Asian Development Bank Statistical Database System. Statistical Data from the Asian Development Bank (query at the top of the page).

China Data Online. Focuses on economic statistics of China, arranged by regions and categories. Includes monthly and yearly reports on China's macroeconomic development and statistical databases about China's population and economy at the county and city levels.

Eurostat. Publications and statistics from the EU, with data in economics, population, agriculture, trade, transportation, the envornment and much more.

FAOSTAT. Extensive data on agriculture, food supply, food security, prices, commodities, forest products, and fisheries from the FAO.

Human Development Report Statistics. Statistics from the United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP). Links to the text of national human development reports from over 250 countries and regions.

Indiastat.  Statistical data from Indian government and private sources: finance, agriculture, health, housing, transportation, and many other areas. Data is derived from documents, reports and policies from the states and national government of India. Information is classified into 30 major sections and includes census data. Userid and password required. Please inquire at any Library Reference Desk for assistance.

International Data Base. From the U.S. Census Bureau. Statistics for demographic, and socioeconomic data for countries and areas of the world. Information dates back from 1950 and as far ahead as 2050.

International Financial Statistics (IFS).  From the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Includes data on exchange and interest rates, balance of payments, government finance, national accounts, prices, foreign reserves, and more.  Recommended: use the economic concept view.

ISI Emerging Markets. Includes company data, financial statements, industry analyses, equity quotes, macroeconomic statistics, and many national government statistical yearbooks.

LABORSTA. International labor statistics from 1979 to the present on employment, earnings, wages, migration, strikes and more.

ProQuest Statistical DataSets. Provides fast and easy one-stop shopping to more than 5.3 billion (and growing) data points from licensed and public domain datasets. Sources of data include local, state and international governments and organizations.

OECD iLibrary. Leading International Organization for Foreign Aid data. Includes International Development Statistics as well as statistical databases on External Debt Statistics and Geographical Distribution of Financial Aid Flows to Developing Countries. Choose the "international development" link on the statistics section.

Official Statistics on the Web. Access to social, economic and general data from official government sources.  Includes statistical offices, central banks and government agencies. Features a good subject list.

PRS Country Risk Data. International political risk data, macroeconomic data, and forecasting, including measures of bureaucracy, corruption, civil disorders, ethnic tensions, inflation, terrorism, etc.

UN Data. Wide range of economic, social, cultural, and demographic indicators: population, environment, health, economics, technology, trade, refugees, and more.

U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Green Book). Loans and grants from the US government each fiscal year by purpose and country.

World Development Indicators. Time series data from 1960 for 207 countries in the areas of population, labour, education, economics, the environment and much more.

World Income Inequality Database. Information for over 140 countries on income inequalities at both cross-country and time series levels over the period 1950-98, with a focus on the period since 1980. See also the University of Texas Income Inequality Project.

The Research Process

1. State your problem as a question as succinctly as possible. 

2. 'Brain dump': Write down what you already know about your topic, including

3. Decide what disciplinary methodologies you plan to use: e.g., sociology, political science, literature, psychology...

4. Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from specialized encyclopedias or other secondary sources.  Wikipedia can sometimes be good here, or Google News.

5. Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic from the Library's list of databases by subject. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.

6. Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.  

7. Evaluate what you find.  Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.

8. Refine Your Search Words - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research words should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.  

 

How is interdisciplinary research different?

How can you do truly interdisciplinary research, when most research sources are discipline-specific? Most of us learn to do research within a discipline, but you need to become adequate in multiple disciplines for this course.

Find specialized encyclopedias for your disciplines:

  1. Open Oskicat
  2. Type encyclopedias and a word or phrase describing your topic, such as development
  3. See what comes up.
  4. If that doesn't work, try typing handbooks and a word or phrase describing your topic such as organizational behavior
  5. If that doesn't work, ask a librarian.

Read more about doing interdisciplinary research.  An excellent book is Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory by Allen Repko

How to Avoid Plagiarism

In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when

Recommendations

 

This content is part of the Understanding Plagiarism tutorial created by the Indiana University School of Education.

Tutorial: Research 101

Unsure how to start a paper or research project? Think maybe you could stand to brush up ostudent with laptopn search strategies?

If this sounds familiar, Library Workshop: Research 101 has you covered. This interactive tutorial explores six stages of the research process. You can view it from start to finish, or focus on specific sections as needed:

1: Begin Your Research

Starting strategies from choosing a topic to search keywords.

2: Knowledge Cycle

The publication timeline, scholarly v. popular sources, and differences in academic disciplines.

3: Finding Books

Search for books and other items in OskiCat, Cal's local library catalog.

4: Finding Articles

Locate and access articles in library research databases.

5: Basic Search

Common techniques for constructing searches that yield useful results.

6: Advanced Search

Specialized search strategies for targeting specific topics.

 

Doe, Main Stacks, Moffitt Library floorplans

Looking for a location in Doe, Main Stacks or Moffitt?  Try the floorplans, or ask for assistance!

Interlibrary Borrowing

As a Berkeley student you are eligible to use books and articles from other libraries around the United States. 

Check OskiCat  to make sure UC Berkeley does not own the material you want.

Provide a full and accurate bibliographic citation, including author, title, place and date of publication, and series.  You can get citations from professors, from Melvyl, from other articles, from Google scholar.  Verify your citations before submitting them for ILL.

Library Hours

Hours on: 
Enter as mm/dd/yy 

For: 


To select individual libraries/units, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking.

Proxy server

To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but any are easier than doing it by hand!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in that works in your browser to keeps copies of pdfs and other research materials you find on the web: permits tagging, notation, full text searching of your library of resources, works with Word, and has a free web backup service.  Formats your bibliography and footnotes in many style sheets.
  2. RefWorks - free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.
  3. EndNote: may be purchased from UC Berkeley's Software Central.

It's always good to double check the formatting -- sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.

Using APA 6th? Purdue has produced this very handy quick guide. The fulltext of APA 6th is not available online, but we do have print copies in the EdPsych Library in reference and short term reserve at BF76.7 P83 2010

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is an easy way to do interdisciplinary research, and with some settings changes can become even more useful.  You need a Google account to use these features.

Do your search in Google Scholar. Look in the left sidebar for the Create Alert link next to the envelope icon, and click it.  New items will be sent to your email account as they are found by Google.

Open Scholar.  Click on the gear icon gear icon in the upper right corner, and choose 'scholar preferences'. In the next screen, choose Library Links from the left-hand menu. In the search box, type the word Berkeley.  Choose University of California, Berkeley - UC-eLinks, and Open Worldcat Search.

Do a Google Scholar search. Click on the "Cited by" link under a citation and select the "Search within articles citing..." checkbox.

Research Advisory Service

Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates

Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics.

This service is for Cal undergraduates only. Graduate students and faculty should contact the library liaison to their department or program for specialized reference consultations.

Ask a Librarian 24/7 Chat

You do allow embedded content.

You can type your question directly into this chat window to chat with a librarian. Your question may be answered by a reference librarian from Berkeley, from another UC campus, or another academic library elsewhere in the US.  We share information about our libraries to make sure you get good answers.

If the librarian can't answer you well enough, your question will be referred to a Berkeley librarian for follow-up.

Have fun chatting!

All Questions Welcomed!

"There are no dumb questions!" student at reference desk

That's the philosophy of reference librarians, who are here to save you time and trouble. If you get stuck, you can talk to a reference librarian at any campus library

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