Professional Skills Development for Masters Students/Doctoral Students

Course #: GG700-800

To book a research consultation

Use my Appointment booking calendar

Who to contact at University of Waterloo

First steps: research question and literature review

The Library System

Unique things to know

  • Use Omni primarily for books
  • Omni IS case sensitive = use AND, OR, NOT to connect your search terms
  • You can "virtually browse" the shelves using the Virtual Browse link on an individual title

Constructing a search string

Most databases:

  • Use connectors (Boolean operators) to combine terms Watch our video Better Searching using AND, OR NOT
    • AND = use between search terms to retrieve ALL the words in each record
    • OR = use to search related terms/synonyms on the same topic
    • NOT = excludes words or phrases, but should be used judiciously
    • " " = phrase search, exact words in a particular order
    • * = truncation, searches for different forms of a word (variant spellings)
    • ? = wildcard, searches for variant spellings of one letter, e.g. colo?r searches for color, colour
    • Most databases have good "Help" resources on Boolean/Advanced searching; good to check these out before you start; they have advance features not discussed in detail in class

How to tell if a journal is scholarly/peer-reviewed/refereed?

  • Many databases, e.g. ProQuest; EBSCO, allow limit to peer-reviewed articles by check box
  • Other databases, e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, Geobase, do not have peer-reviewed check box limiter
    • In this case, you should limit results to "Articles" on the left side menu; this usually removes non-peer-reviewed materials such as conference proceedings, chapters, book reviews, opinion articles, and letters to the editor
  • If in doubt whether an article is from a peer-reviewed journal
    1. Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory - do a title search and look for the "referee" symbol
    2. Visit the web site of the journal, check their "About" section to determine if it is peer-reviewed, and what the process is

Citation Metrics/Impact of Research

Create a "controlled vocabulary"

  • AKA: Index, Thesaurus, list of Keywords, Subject Headings
  • You need to identify centrally important concepts in your research area and create fixed definitions for them (Abbott, 2014)
  • Assists you in searching, categorizing, analysis and write up
  • Especially important when doing systematic reviews or being careful in replicating research

One database every graduate student should know: Dissertations & Theses

  • This is a database of Doctoral dissertations and Master's theses
  • Laurier access - see the Theses and Dissertations page - look for the 1st link to the ProQuest database
  • U. Waterloo access - see the Dissertations and Theses page - it's the 1st result listed
    • Every dissertation should have a literature review section
    • A thesis will often provide a more comprehensive "review" of the literature

Managing Citations

Services for Graduate Students

Reading research articles

Further Reading

* - Faculty recommendation

Graduate School in General

* Haggerty, K., & Doyle, A. (2015). 57 ways to screw up in grad school : perverse professional lessons for graduate students. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

* Berdahl, L., & Malloy, J. (2018). Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD. University of Toronto Press.

* Heard, S. (2016). The Scientist’s Guide to Writing : How to Write More Easily and Effectively throughout Your Scientific Career. Princeton University Press.

Graduate Theses Manuals

    Parsons, T. and Knight, PG. (2015). How To Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Routledge.

    Dollinger, M. (2019). Getting the Most Out of Your Doctorate. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

    Blair, L. (2016). Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Boston : Brill.

    Biggam, J. (2015). Succeeding with your master's dissertation : a step-by-step handbook. Berkshire, England : Open University Press

    Geography/Environmental Studies Research Manuals
    • These deal more with non-library related components of the research process.

    Clifford, N.J. et al. (eds.). 2015. Key methods in geography. London: SAGE Publications. (multiple editions available)

    Gomez, B. and J. P. Jones. (eds.). 2010. Research methods in geography : a critical introduction. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Hay, I. 2016. Qualitative research methods in human geography (Fourth ed.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

    Kanazawa, M. 2018. Research methods for environmental studies : A social science approach. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

    Montello, D. R. and P. C. Sutton (eds.). (2013). An introduction to scientific research methods in geography and environmental studies. 2nd ed. London: SAGE Publications.

    General Library Research Manuals

    Abbott, A. (2014). Digital paper : a manual for research and writing with library and internet materials. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    • Abbott is an expert Sociologist and provides a great narrative (Ch. 2, A Library Ethnography) of what detailed library work consists of.

    Mann, T. (2015). The Oxford guide to library research. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

    • A comprehensive look into the entire gamut of library research; covers database searching at the intermediate to expert level.