American University of Paris Library | How to Organize Graduate Level Research

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How to Organize Graduate Level Research

Start local --- go global...   http://library.aup.edu

Try AUP resources first (items requested by your professors and fastest to obtain) THEN go to Sciences Po (AUP graduate students only) and THEN request document delivery from other places.


FAQ

Important hint - USE ONLY our homepage to go to ebrary, MUSE, JSTOR, etc.  If you directly type in an address  http://www.muse.com from off-campus, it won't recognize you and you will NOT see fulltext of most resources.  The url on the homepage is different and makes you go through a proxy server so the database 'thinks' you are on campus and gives you access.  Use your NetID username and password to login and never give it to anyone else!!!

  1. How do I use my Thesis Statement? How do I start searching? 
  2. I need help with choices in databases - peer reviewed, scholarly, AND/OR etc...
  3. Where do I find books?
  4. Where do I find articles?
  5. How do I evaluate a web site, book or article?
  6. How do I organize my information/citations?
  7. What do I need to know about plagiarism?
  8. When is the library open?
  9. How do I know what I have checked out and when it is due?
  10. Where do I go for help?

How do I use my Thesis Statement? How do I start searching?

What is your 'thesis statement'?  What are you researching, reviewing or evaluating?  Search the web for help on how to write the statement itself!  Try to pick a subject that INTERESTS YOU - your paper will be better and your experience will be more satisfying, and maybe even fun.  Your entire paper will support your thesis statement so review it and reread it often and possibly rewrite it. 

Think about the topic and what sources you need - is it something VERY current that will only be in articles?  Is it something that there will be books about from the distant past?  Think before you sit down to write.  Then outline your paper - later, make notes on your outline when you have found a citation for that section or argument.  As you read and write - revise your outline and possibly your thesis.  Don't try to make the subject fit your thesis - you may change your thesis as you learn more about your topic!  The main goal is that you LEARN and EVOLVE.  THINK throughout the entire process - stop and step back and evaluate what you have done and what you might want to do next.  THEN ask for help if you need it!  You may find 'media in World War II' is too large a topic and investigate 'World War II and what effect radio played in the war' is a better defined topic.  You might find enough information to narrow the topic to a specific event in the war.

Use your statement to find your search terms.  Don't limit your search terms to the exact words you use in the statement - use synonyms, related terms/ideas and find new terms in the articles and books you read.  For instance, if your thesis statement focused on 'the effect of social media on presidential elections in the US' - you would use terms such as: Facebook, twitter, tweet, youtube, Obama, elections, etc. as well as 'social media' and 'presidential elections'.  List your terms and the combinations you want to use to make sure you have used them with each database, catalog, etc. 

There are many sites that will help you keep a paper coherent, 

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I need help with choices in databases - peer-reviewed, scholarly, AND/OR etc....

The first time you use a database, don't rush - look at the options (especially in the advanced search) to see what THAT database can do to simplify your searching.  You can often choose to search 'within the fulltext of an article' or 'in the citation and abstract only'.  The same term showing up once in a 25 page article or showing up in the title can help you focus your search.  

Do you want a scholarly article?  Most databases let you check a box to limit to 'scholarly' or 'peer-reviewed' articles.  Ones that will normally have a bibliography - where peers that specialize in the field have read and accepted the article as worthy of being published.  You can often include or reject searching for different types of articles - book reviews, editorials, and letters can sometimes be 'junk' you don't want to see.

Do I use 'AND' or 'OR' in my search?  'Boolean' terms AND and OR are the same as + and - in many web search engines.  'media AND Obama' MUST have both of those exact terms in them.  'media OR television' MUST have either the word media or the word television in the resulting articles.  'AND' narrows a search when you get too many hits - 'OR' expands your search when you don't get enough results.

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Where do I find books ?

First try the AUP catalog (searching basic key words - use simple searches)

Second try AUP ebooks (can search full text - the TITLES are in the AUP catalog)
For AUP resources from off-campus, use your NetID and password.

A note on books that you check out from Sciences Po (AUP graduate students only).  There are multiple graduate students and faculty sharing the same card number.  If you check out an item and don't return it before it is due NOBODY can check out a book.  There are penalty days where nobody can check out items for each day an item is late.  RETURN BOOKS ON TIME.
Contact Michael Stoepel for questions on Sciences Po (AUP graduate students only)- mstoepel@aup.fr
***Try Sciences Po catalog (searching basic key words - use simple searches)

Try Sciences Po ebooks (AUP graduate students only) (click on E-books tab at top of box shown - can search full text)
Need Sciences Po username/password - available to currently enrolled graduate students in particular courses

There may be other local libraries you'd like to visit.  Some you may need permission to enter, others are open to all and some closed to all! (Search their catalogs first, write down location information and bring change to photocopy)

If a book is very old and it may be 'out of copyright' you can check Free Books online.  For older French books or books in other languages you might try National Libraries, many have digital libraries with old books online.

Try WorldCat (searching basic key words - use simple searches) to order books from AUP Document Delivery  
Books can take WEEKS to arrive if they come from the states and easily up to a week from the UK.

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Where do I find articles?

First try AUP articles page where our databases are listed.  (can search fulltext or title, author, etc.)
Academic Search Complete, Wilson OmniFile Fulltext, JSTOR, CAIRN and Muse are good to try for most topics most others are subject specific - look at descriptions
For AUP resources from off-campus, use your NetID and password.

Second try Sciences Po databases (general topics are listed on tabs at top of box shown)
Need Sciences Po username/password - available to currently enrolled graduate students in particular courses

Try Google Scholar  (set up your personal machine to possibly link with AUP or give you an easy way to order an article if we don't have it)

Look at the bibliography of articles/books that you have found!  Where did THEY find their information?
Do we have a particular JOURNAL you want? (look up the journal title or a keyword in the journal title - NOT article titles, article authors, etc.) You can find out if we have the print, online or access to the journal in a database.  If AUP doesn't have it, does Sciences Po?  How to find out if we have an article for which you have a citation step by step.

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How do I evaluate a web site, book or article?

There are many possible criteria for evaluating a web site but, for scholarly purposes, Authority (who is responsible for the site and is it verifiable), Content (is it scholarly, is there a bibliography, what is the bias), Purpose (why was it created, who is the audience, what do they want from YOU) and Updates (is the site current or outdated, don't only look at dates but also the topics) are among the most important.  There are scam or fake sites created for a variety of reasons.  There are also sincere sites but not scholarly.

The basic criteria are the same for articles and books!  Who is the author and what are his or her credentials relating to the subject?  Does the information seem current?  What is the copyright date and what are the dates of the cited material?  Are the ideas well supported by references, notes and citations that you can check?  Is the publisher familiar or scholarly (a major association or backed by a university)?  Who is the target audience and what are they trying to do - persuade you of something or lay out facts for one side only or discuss both sides of a topic?  Can you determine whether the material is scholarly or popular (bibliography).

How do I find a good web site?

You can use Google and other search engines BUT don't forget to go to major association pages and other university pages.  They often have links to good sites that they have carefully chosen and stamped with their 'seal of approval'.  Some reference ebooks link to good web sites as well.  CHECK with your professors to see if web sites are appropriate for particular assignments!!  They may be accepted for all assignments, or never on research papers or they may be approved for presentations.  This may well depend upon your professor. 

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How do I organize my information/citations?  There are sooooo many!

Bibliographic managers are available to help you keep track of  your citations - EasyBib, BibMe, Zotero for instance.   There are many tutorials showing you how to use these. 

Email or export  your citations as you find them!  Almost every database and catalog allows you to save, export or email the proper citation that  you find in a database or library catalog.  You can usually name them and add notes.  Organize these into folders - one for each paper or section of a paper.  Keep track of what section of the paper you have collected references for so you don't collect 10 for the beginning and none for the conclusion!

Most databases AUTOMATICALLY CREATE the citation in the correct format.  You DO need to double-check the details to verify it is correct.

You might benefit from a print or online Research Log   You can always create one with more criteria to suit your needs.  This helps you avoid doing the same searches over and over in the same databases.  Write down what terms you have used in what databases.  SAVE TIME - ORGANIZE!

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What do I need to know about plagiarism?

Plagiarism and consequences - plagiarism is taking credit for someone else's work (It can be an idea, a direct quotation or paraphrasing - without citing the original author).  It can also include falsifying information or citations and paying for papers or using papers you haven't written yourself for this particular class.   Your professor wants to know what reading you did - what research you did - they WANT to see an excellent bibliography of citations that you looked at while you wrote a paper.  They expect you to read other's works and synthesize them into a coherent paper.  At AUP, you may fail the paper if you plagiarize, you may fail the course if you plagiarize, you may be expelled from the University if you plagiarize.  Take the time and make the effort to do the work yourself.  If you aren't SURE something is acceptable, go to your professor or ARC and ask for specialized help.  Do NOT assume it is okay to do something if you aren't sure.  As well as professors, librarians and other experienced staff who keep an eye out for cheating, AUP has an automated system to help catch plagiarism.  

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When is the library open?

Check the schedule online.  The hours will extend later into the evenings around mid-semester.  During these 'Study Hours' you can check out books in the library using the selfcheck system.

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How do I know what I have checked out and when it is due?

Check your account on the library website.  This does NOT include Sciences Po books or interlibrary loan books.
Use your NetID and password.

You can renew books online (if they are not overdue and you don't owe fines).

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Where do I go for help?

Come to the library

Fill out a Research Help inquiry form for the librarians!  Be as detailed as possible so we can help you better. Or email smurray@aup.fr (Sally Murray) for this particular course.

For your Sciences Po username/password (AUP graduate students only), contact mstoepel@aup.fr
(this is for AUP Graduate students that are CURRENTLY enrolled and in classes giving them access to Sciences Po).

Go to ARC or the Writing Lab.  The Academic Resource Center is located in Grenelle on the lobby floor.  

Talk to your professors!  There are particular questions that only they can answer - is this topic okay for my paper?  Can I use xxx as a major resource?  Discuss changing, narrowing or broadening the topic with them (THEY are grading it, not the librarians or ARC tutors!). 

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