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Getting Started

As we discussed in class, the research process is normally recursive. Therefore as you go through the following steps, you should expect to come back to previous steps and repeat with different tools and terms.

Steps to better research:

  • Define your topic using critical words and phrases i.e. "social capital".
  • Clarify key concepts and related concepts in order to identify subject terms and keywords that will help you narrow your search or meaning.
  • Find background materials that help define the topic and its contexts using, for example, dictionaries or encyclopedias.
  • Find books on your subject using the Library Catalogue.
  • Find scholarly journal articles on your subject using various databases. See section on Databases.
  • Consider other resources like press articles, NGO reports, and web sites. See Other Resources tab.
  • Evaluate the relevance of the materials you have found. You might use the PARCA test we discussed in class.
  • Visit the Frost Library for reference assistance or make an appointment with one of the librarians at Frost. You can reach us at

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

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Oxford Bibliographies
This tool highlights core publications & sources to consider when researching a particular topic.

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Encyclopedia of Environmental Health - Jerome Nriagu (Editor-In-Chief)
ISBN: 9780444522733
Publication Date: 2011-03-15
This work will contain critical reviews and assessments of environmental health practices and research that have worked in places and thus can guide programs and economic development in other countries or regions. Environmental health draws upon the methods and findings of many established academic disciplines, from clinical medicine to epidemiology, chemistry and biology to toxicology, economics to political science and ethics. (Publisher)

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A Dictionary of Ecology - Michael Allaby
ISBN: 9780199567669
Contains over 6,000 entries on all aspects of ecology and related environmental scientific disciplines such as biogeography, genetics, soil science, geomorphology, atmospheric science, and oceanography.

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The International Encyclopedia of Communication - Wolfgang Donsbach (Editor)
ISBN: 9781405131995
The International Encyclopedia of Communication spans the scholarship, evidence, and methodology of communication research. Editorial areas include: communication theory and philosophy, interpersonal communication, journalism, intercultural and intergroup communication, media effects, strategic communication/PR, communication and media law and policy, media systems in the world, and communication and technology.

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A Dictionary of Media and Communication - Daniel Chandler; Rod Munday
ISBN: 9780199568758
The Dictionary of Media and Communication covers over 2,200 entries on terms used in media and communication, from concepts and theories to technical terms, across subject areas that include advertising, digital culture, journalism, new media, radio studies, and telecommunications.

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A Dictionary of Public Health - John M. Last (Editor)
ISBN: 0195160908
Publication Date: 2006-11-23
The Dictionary of Public Health is an alphabetical listing of almost 5,000 words and phrases used in public health science and practice. It offers definitions, discussion, and an occasional brief commentary on the relevance of each term to people and their health. (Publisher)

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Encyclopedia of Public Health - Wilhelm Kirch (Editor)
ISBN: 9781402056130
Publication Date: 2008-06-13
Public health research, practice and policy are based on multidisciplinary activities, drawing from fields such as sociology, statistics, economics, psychology, social work, and clinical medicine. The Encyclopedia of Public Health is a summary of current knowledge in the field of public health. The work includes more than 2,500 entries in two volumes, written by international experts across the public health sciences. Entries consist of review-style articles (synopses), detailed essays and short definitions. Extensive cross referencing and hyperlinking offer an easy to use reference in Public Health. (Publisher)

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Oxford Reference Online
Oxford Reference Online brings together language and subject reference works from one of the world's biggest reference publishers into a single cross-searchable resource. The Core Collection contains over 100 dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press.

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International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences - N. J. Smelser (Editor-In-Chief); P. B. Baltes (Editor-In-Chief)
ISBN: 0080430767
Publication Date: 2001-11-22
Available both online and in print this resource contains comprehensive articles relating to the social sciences (anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, history, geography, law, education, philosophy, linguistics etc.). Includes biographies of important social science theorists. Each entry concludes with a bibliography on each topic.

Bibliothécaire/ Librarian

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Dany Savard
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Need help?

Can't find what you're looking for? Need help with your research? 

Book a free appointment with one of our research specialists.

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Evaluation of Information Sources








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