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Geosciences: Introductory Geography

Research guide for the geosciences.


Physical Geography, GEOG 1401

Geography and Geosciences Databases and Library Materials

World Wide Web Database

Google Scholar Logo

General Subscription Databases

Web of Science

Search Web of Science™


Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters   

Government Publications

Overview - Scholarly References

Finding references for Geography requires several steps.  No one step will find all of the references available. Here is a brief guide to assembling a thorough collection of references on a topic. Experience will teach you which of these is most useful for each circumstance.  Do not hesitate to ask a Librarian if you need assistance- they are here to help you. Tom Rohrig is the Librarian for Geography and Jessica Simpson is the Librarian for Geosciences.  There will be a "get started" link or search box on the left side of the page where there are the words see left.

Overview - Scholarly References

What is a Scholarly Article?

Many students arrive at college without understanding what qualifies as a scholarly article, nor do they understand what peer-reviewed journal articles are.  Once students understand the concepts of what these items are it makes searching content much more meaningful.

When your instructor asks you to find scholarly articles they are wanting you to use resources written by experts in academic or professional fields. These articles serve to provide specialists in a particular field with information about what has been studied or researched on a topic as well as to find bibliographies that point to other relevant sources of information.

What is a Journal and what are Journal Articles?

Journals are academic or scholarly publications in which information relating to a particular academic discipline is published.  Students can most easily relate to this concept by picturing their favorite magazine.  Similar to a magazine, scholarly publications usually come out about once a month on a regular and continual basis.  Also like magazines, each journal is filled with articles that are stand-alone, each with their own content and author(s).  Lastly, they are similar in that all the articles in each of the issues of the journal publication are on a various topics based on some area of interest.  

That is where the similarity ends.  Journals are not magazines because they are professional publications edited and reviewed by other professionals of a similar field.  For example, someone who is a researcher or doctor of occupational therapy performs painstaking research on a topic, collects data, and comes up with some new ideas.  This researcher will want to submit their article to a journal where it will be read by other people who are doing similar research or looking for well tested results.  Before the information will be permitted to be published, individuals with enough expertise to understand the content of the article and a good reputation in the discipline will decide if that information is good information that should be published in their journal or "fake news" that should be rejected.  Editors volunteer for editing services and are not paid by the journal directly.  Their reward usually takes the form of increased reputation in the field and merit in their individual institutions.  In this way there is a higher amount of quality control as well as affluence and influence for the journal where the articles are published while also deterring special interests from controlling content.

What is Peer-review?

Scholarly peer-review is the process of reviewing an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field before a paper describing this work is published in a journal or as a book.  Most, but not all, peer-review is unpaid professional refereeing.  Most, but not all, scholarly works are peer-reviewed.

Digital Databases - Scholarly References

General Databases
A good place to start if you are not familiar with the Tech Libraries is the Libraries web page: Go to "Start Here" to search the library discovery system. Enter your keywords or topics and do a search. When your subject is too broad will get you thousands of articles. A subject that is too specific may not find any references. You may have to try several keywords before finding the best ones for your search. A link is provided to help you start with the Discovery System (see left).
General search engines:
*Scholarly World Wide Web Database: Google Scholar (see left)
*TTU Library Subscribed General Databases: Scopus, Web of Science (see left), JSTOR (see left)
Geography covers all disciplines; these initial databases are just the tip of the iceberg. This is a good first place to look.
Geography and related discipline databases:
*Use the database search at the library homepage (>Electronic Resources (left menu)>Find Databases>Category (tab)>Science +  Technology (left menu)>Geosciences (right menu, 23 databases) (see left).
*Do not hesitate to look in other disciplines that are related to your topic.
Some things to remember when searching in a digital database:
*A "keyword" search casts a wide net when searching a digital database. Be prepared to wade through many returned sources that have nothing to do with your topic.
*If you have a topic, then try a search using the "subject" field. This will most often return specific and relevant sources.
*Be sure to use all possible terms that may apply to your topic. For example, "dust storms'', "blowing dust" and "wind erosion" will each give you quite different lists. Do not limit yourself to just one term.

Books - Scholarly References

For books, your first step is to find out what is available in the Texas Tech Libraries (Main, Architecture, and the Southwest Collection).  Use the federated search box labled "Start Here" from the library homepage and select the checkbox "Available in the Library Collection".  In the search menu to the left under "Source Type", limit your search to "Books".


Another way of finding information is simply to browse through the stacks at the appropriate call numbers.  Relevant Library of Congress call numbers include the following: 

G 1-9980, General Geography, Atlases, Maps
GA 1-1776 Cartography, Mathematical Geography
GB 3-5030 Physical Geography
GC 1-1581 Oceanography
GF 1-900 Human Geography

Government Documents - Scholarly References

U.S. Federal Government Documents can be found through a variety of sources: the online catalog (TTU has been a Government Depository for over 50 years), the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (see left). The print version is in the Government Documents collection (GP3.8:), and another electronic version - GPO Monthly Catalog (1976 onwards) is in FirstSearch, listed as a "Popular Database" on the library home page. Use the subject pull-down menu and search under these subject areas for more information "Congressional & Legal information; Government Information, General; and Statistical Information. Sources from Allied Disciplines Many topics of interest to geographers, as mentioned earlier, can also be located in databases and abstract collections for allied disciplines.

Web Searches - Scholarly References

Be careful here! You can try a web search using your prefered search engineGoogle, Bing, Yahoo, etc.for references, but you have to be sure of their reliability and authority. Will they be scholarly? Will they be legitimate?  Make sure you understand how to evaluate the reliability of resources online and/or ask a librarian regarding the authority of specific resources.

Citation Chaining - Scholarly References

Reference Lists in Articles and Bibliographies in Books

Reading the articles and books you have collected will direct you to still more references by using a method called "backward citation chaining". If a paper is cited in the text and it looks like it may be useful to you, hunt it down. Review articles are particularly helpful in the early stages of a project. For example, both Progress in Human Geography (GFI P96) and Progress in Physical Geography (GI P686) are available online through EbscoHost Academic Search Complete and Sage Premier 2007--are journals with many review articles and are good places to start looking. 

Cited By

You can also follow "forward citation chaining".  With modern technology, many databases are now using forward citation chaining to track authors who are citing articles that you are already using.  Following citations "forward" will let you know how that article has impacted the field and may provide even more recent infromation on your topic.

Additional Tips - Scholarly References

Some more things:

*Start your research immediately! Although the TTU Libraries have a plethora of resources, they will not have everything you are looking for. Document Delivery may take a few days to two weeks. Use your time accordingly. Writing your paper at the last minute is nothing compared to researching at the last minute.  Use the Ask a Librarian  link for assistance (see left). They love to be asked about this stuff. You can also use the Ask a Librarian, starting with clicking on Contact Us under Help: on the right side of the home page.

Style Manuals

This link gives guidance to how to cite in the major style manuals. It is particularly good in helping cite electronic resources.

Current Event Assignment

Find relevant geographical resources using the federated search box labeled "Start Here" on the library home page (  You can limit to articles by selecting "Journal Articles" in the "Source Types" in the left menu.  You might also find articles in "Source Types" in Magazines, Reviews, etc.  Remember to pick your own topic. The query in this example includes operators including Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), a Keyword Phrase operator (quotations marks), and Group operators (parenthesis).

An example of a search you might run in the "Start Here" federated search to find opposing views: