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Where do I search?
Selecting the best or most appropriate finding aid for identifying sources depends almost entirely on the context of your research assignment. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options.
Library catalog searches (i.e., Primo) can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.
Multidisciplinary databases (i.e., JSTOR) cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They can be the most appropriate choice when you just want to get a sense of what's available on a topic and when it isn't so important that you pay attention to disciplinary lenses.
Subject databases (i.e., MLA International Bibliography) cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic. Recommended subject databases for each discipline can be found on the "articles" tab in each library subject guide.
Primo is a library search tool for finding materials in the Collins Library and Summit libraries. You can search for books, selected articles and more in a single search box.
General Primo Search Tips
- Use the pull-down scoping options to search Collins, Summit and Articles OR Collins and Summit, OR just Collins.
- Use quotes to search for "exact titles".
- Use the filters on the right side to quickly narrow your search.
- Sign in with your Puget Sound username and password to gain access to online resources and request items from other libraries.
A sampling of potentially relevant books is listed below. Some titles available in print and in online format.
To Conserve Unimpaired: the evolution of the national park idea by
Call Number: SB481.6 .K45 2013 Print Books
Publication Date: 2013
Click on the title above for online access. In this book, Keiter argues that parks have always served a variety of competing purposes, from wildlife protection and scientific discovery to tourism and commercial development. He explains how parks must be managed more effectively to meet increasing demands in the face of climate, environmental, and demographic changes.
Contested Boundaries: a new Pacific Northwest history by
Call Number: Click on the title above for online access
Publication Date: 2017
An engaging, contemporary look at the themes, events, and people that have shaped the history of the Pacific Northwest over the last two centuries. Twelve theme-driven essays covering the human and environmental impact of exploration, trade, settlement and industrialization in the nineteenth century, followed by economic calamity, world war and globalization in the twentieth.
The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States by
Call Number: Click on the title above for online access
Publication Date: 2012
Mark Fiege reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation's past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred.
See America First: tourism and national identity, 1880-1940 by
Call Number: G156.5.H47 S53 2001 Print Books
Publication Date: 2001
Shaffer chronicles the birth of modern American tourism and demonstrates that the promotion of tourist landscapes and the consumption of tourist experiences were central to the development of an American identity.
Using Library of Congress Subject Headings
Reading a Call Number
Collins Library uses the Library of Congress classification scheme to organize books on the shelves. Follow these tips to find the book you need.
- Start with the top line. It is in alphabetical order. Ex. E
- The second line is a whole number. Ex. 169.1
- The third line is a combination of a letter and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically. Read the number as a decimal, eg. Y.23, Y.34, Y.344, Y.4, etc. Ex. .N37 (*Some call numbers have more than one combination letter-number line.)
- The last line is the year the book was published. Read in chronological order. Ex. 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, etc. Ex. 2001
Use the library location chart and map to find where the book is located.
Recommended Subject Databases
Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases.
America: History & Life
Covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
Offers information covering all aspects of human impact on the environment.
Includes overviews by topic, author, and work, as well as excerpts from articles, books, and essays written by scholars.
MLA International Bibliography
The key database for literature, linguistics, and related areas.
Gender Studies Database
Covers the full spectrum of gender-engaged scholarship inside and outside academia.
Abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
General Database Search Tips
Try these strategies to become a better, more efficient searcher -- and help you find articles that you can actually use:
- Build your search vocabulary -- keep a running list of key words, phrases, concepts, synonyms, and any related terms or ideas that you find.
- Use advanced search features -- narrow your search with "AND," expand your search with "OR," or search in specified fields (i.e., author, title, publication, abstract).
- Use search limits -- control the types of results you get (academic journals? language?) and how they are displayed (date? relevance?) so that you're only looking at results you can use.
- Try multiple searches and evaluate -- try to figure out why you got the results you did, and adjust your search until you get closer to results you can use.
- Use database descriptors -- once you find an article that looks good, see what descriptors or "subject headings" were assigned to it in the database. You can use these to search only for articles that have the same descriptors attached.
The databases listed below are examples of multidisciplinary finding aids.
Note: If you need discipline-specific resources, it is better to use the recommended subject databases under the "articles" tab in the library subject guides.
Academic Search Premier
Indexes and offers mostly the full text of thousands of magazines and journals. Includes a mix of popular and scholarly sources.
Archive of scholarly journals. Typically does NOT include the most current issues.
Interdisciplinary database includes books and articles from scholarly publishers with focus on humanities and social science.
Covering more than 160 subject areas, this database features a diversified mix of content including scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, books, newspapers, reports and videos.
Reading a Scholarly Article
During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:
- Abstract (if available)
- First paragraph (sometimes the second paragraph, too): What does the author want to find out? What is the research question the author is asking?
- Evidence: What are the primary sources the author uses?
- Scholarly conversation: What are the other scholarly works (secondary sources) the author uses?
- Conclusion (typically the last paragraph): How does the author tie the evidence together to answer the research question? What is the significance of this research?
Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation.
Tip: Read the article more than once! It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.
Tipasa: Interlibrary Loan
If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option for getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.
Tipasa is linked to your library account so you'll need to log in to use it.
Once you are logged in, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form, like this:
Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived.