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GC205: Research Methods in Geography

Course guide by Bruce Sarjeant

Do you live off campus and are using a non-NMU Internet Service Provider? You will also need to have the Cisco VPN Client installed if you continue to be prompted for your username and password when you try and access a database. LTE access does not require the VPN.


NMU has pulled out several databases from the many we subscribe to that pertain to geography: they are listed here. If you would like to search across nearly all our databases, use the OneSearch feature:

Full-text articles are available in and out of your initial database: look for the icon (could also be in text form "Request" or "Get this for me").

Issues of national importance that have appeared in the news might have been covered in detail in CQ Researcher at one time or another.

Reference Resources (on 3rd floor unless otherwise noted)

Encyclopedia of geography terms, themes, and concepts. G63 .H38 2011

Dictionary of Geography, 2nd ed. G 63 M39 1997. (4th and 5th editions online)

What is Geography? ebook

Atlases can be found in the G1000 call number: in reference, the map collection, and the circulating collection.

Encyclopedia of Landforms, vols 1-3. GB 406 .N35 2003

The Handbook of Geographic Information Science, G70.2 H356 2008.

The NMU library has a list of Electronic Reference Sources in geography (as well as statistics, biology, sociology, and others as indicated on the left side of that page), a webpage on Maps, and feel free to use other course guides--your topic could fall under another discipline.

Library Catalogs

Three to choose from. Each has merit: NMU's library catalog, MeLCat, and WorldCat. The last two will require you to interlibrary loan the item. WorldCat is a very good resource.

Want to browse the shelves? The call numbers for geography are:
G: Geography (general)
GA: Mathematical Geography, Cartography
GB: Physical Geography
GC: Oceanography
GF: Human Ecology, Anthropogeography

Internet & Government Resources

Evaluating Internet Resources: Your topics will undoubtably have concerned interest groups and organizations with their own web presence wanting to convince you one way or another on the subject. Give the groups a very critical look; be skeptical. In most cases these websites will link to other resources, and so on.

GreyNet International
Grey Literature: "Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." This authoritative web resource points you in the direction of publications, mainly in the sciences, from so-called "Grey Literature". Another source: GreyLit.org.

Google Advanced Search

Voice of the Shuttle. Eccelctic collection of links from UC Santa Barbara.

General Government Documents Resources

USA.gov. Official search engine for the Federal Government (but also includes state, local, and tribal governments as well). Includes all domain names associated with the government besides .gov and.mil.

Catalog of Government Publications from the Government Publishing Office. Many online publicatons directly available from this resource; updated daily.

Search across up to 71 government agencies with MetaLib .
Collections include Environment, Science & Technology, Agriculture, Recreation, Travel & Transportation, and Business & Economy. You can also narrow your search to specific resources within each topic.

Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. These reports provide a background for upcoming legislation or a current topic of interest. There is no one, public source for them. The Dudley Knox Libary has a webpage listing where these reports are found.

The Federal Register.
Contains notices, proposed rules, final rules, and Presidential documents. In the case of many proposed and finalized rules, a lengthy background of the topic is provided.

National Center for Environmental Information
NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information (formerly the National Climate Data Center) is the world's largest active archive of weather data.

Developed and maintained by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), this multilingual resource is a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.

Michigan & Upper Peninsula Resources

NMU's Michigan Government Documents webpage and Local & Regional webpage. Also, Portals to the Past: A Bibliographical and Resource Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, by Dr. Russell Magnaghi, has an extensive collection of citations.

USGS "Science in Your Backyard: Michigan".

MSU Extension. And nationally, extension.org. Extension services have provided non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country — to farmers and other residents of rural communities as well as to people living in urban areas. They emphasize taking knowledge gained through research and education and bringing it directly to the people to create positive changes.

Specific Agencies (with a geographic subject matter?)

USGS Publications Warehouse. Searchable index of materials dating back to 1880. Many are full-text. Website contains additional links to USGS resources.

Fish and Wildlife Service.

National Technical Reports Library.

Treesearch. U.S. Forest Service research database. Includes many non-agency and peer-reviewed publications that pertain to managing forests--water, air, animals, insects, trails, etc.

Agricola and PubAg. Both from the National Agriculture Library and both are worth looking in. PubAg has newer and more peer-reviewed resources.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Census Bureau. And Michigan-specific numbers/data.

American Memory Project from the Library of Congress.

NASA's "For Educators" page.

Data.gov: Federal, State and Local geographic data. More links can be found on the GIS Resources page .

Research Tips and Advice, Geography and Otherwise.

Zotero. A free program that helps you organize your resources. Works with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari (not Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer). NMU has a zotero customization page.

What citation style does your professor want you to use?. Chicago? APA? MLA? Turabian? Zotero can help you with these (they have nearly 9,000 different ones, 43 specific to "geography"). As neat as zotero is (and other progams like them are), always check your end results against the proper, authoratative citation styleguide and edit appropriately.

Purdue University's The OWL. A well-known and popular website for writing resources.

Citing a map? The Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives has posted a guide Best Practices in Citation of Cartographic Materials.

NMU's Writing Center. It's yours. Use it.

Annotated bibliography: Writing an Annotated Bibliogaphy (University of Guelph), and some examples: Climate Ready Great Lakes: An Annotated Bibliography, Core List for an Environmental Reference Collection (from the EPA), and Texas Reference Sources.

Communicating in geography and the environmental sciences, 3rd.ed. G70 H35 2006.

Evaluating research in academic journals: a practical guide to realistic evaluation, 4th ed. H 62 .P97 2008

Writing literature reviews: a guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. H 61.8 .G3 1999

Geography, history and concepts: a student's guide. Holt-Jensen, Arlid. G70 .H613 1999

Integrating Stakeholders and Users into the Geography Discipline's Research Process. Publication from the USGS. To sum up: remember who you are writing with, for and to.

Critically analyzing information sources. Resource from Cornell. Please consult this and the Evaluating Internet Resources mentioned previously.

Professional Associations

Association of American Geographers. Publisher of the Annals of the AAG (G3 .A7) and The Professional Geographer (G3 .P7) .

American Geographical Society. Publisher of The Geographical Review (G1 .G35).

The Canadian Association of Geographers. Publisher of The Canadian Geographer (G1 .C29).

The Geographical Association (UK). Publisher of Geography (G73 .A15).

CataList: The Official Catalog of LISTSERV Lists. Sign up for one or more in your field. As for blogs, Antipode (a Radical Geography Community) has a lsit of them, and a list of "Geographers that blog (relatively frequently)" from Sam Kinsley. Perhaps you've found a researcher in your field that has one, or has a social networking presence: follow them.

Sign up for publisher alerts through your favorite social networking program, from within a database or directly from the publisher.

Graduate Schools

Continuing on in Geography? The Association of American Geographers has a list of graduate schools in the Americas.

If you need help with any of these resources (or found some others you'd like to see added), ask for assistance at the Library's Reference Desk (227-2294), use the live chat, or contact Bruce Sarjeant, Reference, Documents & Maps Librarian (227-1580).

Library Hours
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Tue: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wed: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thu: 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat: 12:00 noon - 8:00 p.m.
For exceptions and full year hours