GEOL 110: Introduction to Geology

Fall 2011 - Professor Bereket Haileab

Keeping track

While you're researching, it's helpful to keep notes in some form or another - whatever works best for you.  The important thing is to keep track of where you've been, what you've looked at, and what worked and what didn't.

Some things to keep track of...


  • Where did you search?
  • Which search terms did you use?
    • which worked well?
    • which didn't?


  • What did you find?
  • How will it help you?
  • How can you get to it again?
    • URL for webpage,
    • folder location if you've downloaded an article,
    • call number of a book or map

Approaching the literature from a geologic perspective

A few things to think about when you're getting started on a geologic topic:

1.   Location:  Does your information need to be geographically-specific, or could it come from anywhere?  For example: water quality data is location-specific, but articles about the causes of water quality issues need not be location sensitive.

  • What are some of the names of your geographic area?  This could include the geologic unit, the city, the county, state, watershed, or any other number of names.  Use the GeoNames Information Server to find a feature or location, the latitude and longitude of the feature, as well as which USGS Topographic map it's located on.

2.   Resource or material: Are you looking for information on a specific resource or material, be it a specific type of rock, or mineral or even energy resource?

3.   Process:  Do you need information on a specific process or cycle?

4.   Time:  Does your information need to be time-specific?  Are you looking for information from a particular geologic time period?

  • What names has that time period had?  Remember that the names of time periods can occasionally change.

Some thoughts on research...

Research is not a linear process. Instead, it is a matter of trying something, evaluating and learning from the results, refining your strategy, trying something else, and exploring lots of possibilities. It should be a fun thing - finding new information and thinking about what that might mean for your topic.  This list below is not meant to be taken literally as a strict procedure; instead these are questions to keep in mind as you do your research.  

Remember also that the librarians are here to help.

Some other questions to ask yourself as you're starting your research

1.  What discipline or disciplines am I working in?  Are there other disciplines that might be interested in the same question?
  Some tools:

·   Subject research guides: library web site -> Find -> Subject Research Guide

·   Databases by subject: library web site -> Find -> Electronic Resources: Full list by subject

2.   What sources do I already have?
Do they mention other sources of information or data (bibliography)?
Do they use specific terminology or wording?
Do they talk about particular places, people, or agencies?

3.   What type of literature or information do I need?
Who might collect that information?
Who would be interested in it?

4.   How and where will I search for the information I need?

5.   How will I access the information that I find?

6.   What keywords or terms could be used to describe my topic?

7.   After running a few searches: What results am I getting?  Am I getting too many results?  Too few?

8.   What refinements should I make to my search in light of those results?

9.   How will I use the results that I’ve found?

10. What information am I still missing?


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Ann Zawistoski
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