Geography Research Guide
Modern geography is a multifaceted subject that seeks to understand the spatial aspects of Earth and its human and natural complexities.
Contact Librarian: Kathy Stroud, firstname.lastname@example.org; 541-346-3051
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The UO Libraries subscribe to a number of databases that may be searched to find scholarly articles using a geographic approach. Each database uses a carefully constructed list of index terms. Once you find a good article on your topic, you can look at the index terms for that article and search for others in the same database using those index terms. Index terms give you the power of focused searching and eliminate some of the guesswork on what terms an author used (for example, geographical vs. geographic). Unfortunately the index terms are not identical for each database. To do a comprehensive literature search you will need to search each database individually.
The databases come in two types, Subject Specific and General. Subject Specific databases try to cover a discipline comprehensively while General databases typically include information about articles from many disciplines. I have listed some suggested Subject Specific databases for Geography followed by some useful General databases. General databases can be especially useful when researching interdisciplinary topics.
Subject Specific Databases
- GEOBASE: indexes research literature that includs geology, human and physical geography, environmental sciences, oceanography, geomechanics, alternative energy sources, pollution, waste management and nature conservation. It covers thousands of peer-reviewed journals, trade publications, book series and conference proceedings. GEOBASE has the most international coverage of any database in the field.
- GeoRef: Although mainly a geology database, GeoRef indexes many physical geography articles.
- Sociological Abstracts provides access to the latest research in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. This database may be useful to human geographers researching on topics that overlap with other social sciences.
- Web of Science (AKA Web of Knowledge) searches articles published in the top scholarly journals in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. A special feature of Web of Science is the ability to find articles that cite an article or author. This is an excellent interdisciplinary database and a good place to look if you are not finding what you are looking for in a subject specific database.
- Academic Search Premier is an interdisciplinary database that has a mix of popular articles, scholarly articles, and news. If you are having difficulties finding articles in Web of Science, try this database to find scholarly articles and expand your keyword list for further searching in Web of Science. You will need to determine if an article in this database is scholarly. DO NOT rely solely on the limit to peer-reviewed feature. It is not reliable.
Review articles are a great way to get an overview of a subject and find many references to scholarly and research articles.
- Annual Reviews is a collection of critical reviews written by leading scientists. Annual Reviews volumes are published each year for 29 focused disciplines within the Biomedical, Physical, and Social Sciences
- Web of Science may be searched limiting the results to document type "reviews"
To find an online copy of an article, click on the "FindText" button. If we do not subscribe to the journal online, check the UO Libraries Catalog to see if we have it in print. If we do not have either, you may request the article through InterLibrary Loan.
UO WorldCat searches for books and many other types of items such as articles, maps, videos, music, etc. To limit to books, click on 'book' under format on the left side.
UO WorldCat searches the holdings of many libraries at once. Items owned by the UO Libraries are listed first, followed by items owned by Summit Libraries and then all othe WorldCat Libraries. You may request items from non-UO Libraries using the request button in the full record. It may take up to 10 days to get the book.
In the upper right corner of your search results there is a drop-down box that allows you to change how the results are sorted. You can change it to relevance only. This will show you the top items in your search regardless of location of the book. This may help you identify books you want to get through InterLibrary Loan. It is also a way to find free, online electronic resources (such as US federal government publications) that you may access even though the library doesn't "own" it.
Click on the subject heading links in the full record display of a book to find more items on that exact subject.
When searching for books, use more general terms than when searching for articles. For example, if you want books about the politics of the marbled murrelet and logging old growth forests, you may want to expand your search to forest policy + endangered species + Pacific Northwest.
If you want to search only what is available at the UO immediately, try the UO Local Catalog.
When doing research and writing papers it is important to keep track of the information sources you use and convey the sources to your readers. Citing sources strengthens the authority of your work. It demonstrates that you have considered others' opinions and ideas in forming your own. Also, accurate citations help others locate the materials you used in your research. This helps create a strong, more defensible scholarly paper. Additionally, writers have an obligation to indicate when they have used someone else's ideas or words. If you don't properly cite other people's research and ideas, you are stealing the credit for someone elses work. The locations of Commonly Used Citation Guides are listed on the Library's Citation Guides and Tools webpage.
Information about software available to help track references you have discovered may be found on the Bibliographic Management Software web page.
It is important to critically evaluate the information you are using. Not all resources are of the same quality. This is especially important when dealing with databases that index both scholarly and popular works. Even with scholarly works it is important to assess the objectivity of the author/publisher, currency and relevance of the work. It is especially important to place the information resource in the context in which it was created when the topic is controversial. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who wrote and published the article? What background and biases do they bring to the subject?
- Why did they create and publish the item? The item may be an attempt to convey unbiased fact or a blatant effort to persuade.
- When was it made and published?
When looking for information, it may be appropriate to use popular works, or works with a certain bias in your paper if you are presenting differing public opinions on a subject. However, it is important that you distinguish opinion from research and clearly represent your sources as what they are.
These encyclopedic dictionaries define terms used in geography and have short articles on theories, methods, and the history of geography. They are a good source of information for an overview of a topic.
- Encyclopedia of Geography: 1224 entries covering physical geography; human geography; society and nature; methods, models, and GIS; history of geography; and people, organizations, and movements
- A Dictionary of Geography
- The Dictionary of Human Geography [also DOCS REF GF4.D52 2000]
- International Encyclopedia of Human Geography
- Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations
- Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards
- The Dictionary of Physical Geography [DOCS REF GB10.D53 2000]
- Core Geography Journals
- UO Map and Aerial Photography Library
- UO Library GIS Services
- Newspaper Resources at the UO Libraries
- Finding Government Information