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GEOL Comps

Fall 2023


This guide includes information and resources designed to aid you in locating research and managing sources for your senior comps project. For further assistance with your research, including finding information, using Zotero, and more, contact the research desk or schedule an appointment with your librarian.

Some thoughts on library research

Just like field research, library research is not a linear process. It is a matter of trying, evaluating and learning from the results, refining your strategy, trying again, and exploring possibilities. It can be fun and exciting to find new information, explore new directions, and think about what all of that might mean for your topic. 

Approaching literature from a geologic perspective

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself as you approach the geologic literature. The answers can help you to narrow down the types of sources you look for and the places you search.

1.  Location: 

Do you need to geographically-specific information, or is the locale not important? For example: water quality data is location-specific, but articles about minerals containing europium need not be.

  • What are the names of your geographic area? This could be the geologic unit, city, county, state, watershed, or any other number of names. Search GeoNames Information Server to find a feature or location. You'll also find the latitude and longitude of the feature, and the USGS Topographic map it's located on.
  • Are there specific coordinates that define the area? Some of the searches can be done by latitude and longitude.
  • Pay attention to any codes for specific locations. This can include hydrology units, geologic units, water sheds, or even wells - basically any geographically-specific unit.

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?

  • Are there other words or terms for that 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 or have different names depending on the location.
  • Take a look at the International Commission on Stratigraphy's site for a detailed chronostratigraphic chart and other related charts.

Expanding your search

You've found a few good sources, great! But for comps, you need to make sure you're doing a thorough literature review.  Here's some ways to use relevant sources you already have to find some more:

Subject Searching

  • Take a look at the record for your source, either in Catalyst (if a book or Government Document) or GeoRef or another database (if an article).  You can see how the source is indexed and click on any of the terms to find more with that same subject, or use Advanced Search to combine the terms.
  • In subject databases, use the Thesaurus to get specifics on what a term refers to and to find related terms.
  • Different databases will use different subject terms, so if you're using more than one database, make sure to pay attention to the subject headings in each one.

Keyword Searching

While skimming through a source, pay attention to the terms or phrases that the author is using to describe your topic.  Make note of any key phrases that you might add to your search.

Citation Searching

  • Pay attention to who the author is citing, and in what context.  Follow the relevant citation to the original source.
  • You can also search for more recent papers that have cited your paper in either Web of Science or Google Scholar.

Other things to watch for:

Pay attention to things like author names and affiliations.  While you will almost certainly have some sources written by the same author, you want to avoid having all your sources written by the same person or coming from the same lab.  You want to be sure you're bringing in multiple perspectives and voices.