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WRIT 2 (Metcalf, 2012)  

This is a basic introduction to library research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Sciences for UCSB Writing Courses
Last Updated: Feb 12, 2013 URL: Print Guide

Library research: an introduction Print Page

Library of Congress Classification

The UCSB Davidson Library uses the Library of Congress Classification system (LC) to arrange books and other library materials by subjects and disciplines

About Call Numbers

The LC Classification Scheme


Developing your Topic

One excellent way to begin your research is to think of the different words that authors may use to write about your  topic. We call these terms or words "Keywords" because often you will see this particular word as a search type in a library catalog or database.

Speaking of library catalogs, there are two library catalogs that you can use - the UCSB library catalog and MELVYL.
MELVYL is the union catalog for the entire UC library system. MELVYL has information about collections from all UC libraries.
  • German Nationalism
  • Proposition 8
  • Art of Persuasion

Let's say you have chosen the first topic. What words can represent the essential facets of your topic?


nationalism, national identity,


How to Search for Information & Put Together a List of Sources

Think of key terms that will help answer your research question:

      Keywords:                                                                      Synonyms:

        Japanese American                                       Asian, Japanese, minority

  _____________________________                    _______________________________

        Internment                                                         incareration, imprisonment, detainment 

 _____________________________                     _______________________________


Then search relevant databases using the keywords you came up with. Combine synonyms using OR for more results:

( ____________________  OR  ____________________  OR  ___________________ )


( ____________________  OR  ____________________  OR  ___________________ )

Booksprovide the most detailed background information.

Articlescontain more current or specific information.

Web Resources:  can be great research resources, especially current government research published only on the web.  But be careful! Anyone can put up a web page, so ask yourself if the site is reliable and accurate; evaluate the information you find.

Other Types of Information:  Statistics, a public opinion poll, maps, photographs, an expert or knowledgeable individuals, an almanac, etc.

Subject Guide

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