Geography Research

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,; 541-346-3051

Kathy Stroud                    

Useful Links

off-campus access limited to UO = on campus use or UO authentication required

Scholarly Articles | Books | Citing Sources | Evaluating Sources | Encyclopedias and Dictionaries | Other Useful Resources

Search for Scholarly Articles

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: off-campus access limited to UO 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: off-campus access limited to UO Although mainly a geology database, GeoRef indexes many physical geography articles.
  • Sociological Abstracts off-campus access limited to UO 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.

General Databases

  • Web of Science off-campus access limited to UO (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 Premieroff-campus access limited to UO 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

Review articles are a great way to get an overview of a subject and find many references to scholarly and research articles.

  • Annual Reviews off-campus access limited to UO 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 off-campus access limited to UO 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 UO LibrarySearch for the journal title to see if we have it in print. If we do not have either, you may request the article through InterLibrary Loan.

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Finding Books

UO LibrarySearch searches for books and many other types of items such as articles, maps, videos, music, etc. To limit to books, click on 'Books' under "Material Type" on the left side.

UO LibrarySearch searches the holdings of many libraries at once. If you are interested in searching for just items owned by the UO Libraries, use the drop-down box in the search bar to limit your search to UO Libraries. BEWARE: limiting your results to Available at UO after you do your search excludes all the online books and journals the Library pays for you to use. Only physical items are listed as Available at UO. If you limit you original search to UO + Summit you will exclude articles, but find items owned by Summit Libraries. You may request items from these libraries using the Get It > InterLibrary Loan links. It may take up to 10 days to get the book; however, requests from Summit Libraries often arrive in 5 days or less.  

Click on Details to find out more about an item. Details displays subject headings for the book.  You may click on the subject headings 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.

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Citing Sources

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.

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Evaluating Sources

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.

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Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

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.

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Other Useful Resources

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Created by kstroud on Apr 29, 2013 Last updated Oct 14, 2014