Guide to Library Research

Topic Analysis/Keywords

Break your topic into components.  Develop a list of synonyms and alternative terminology for each component. 


relationsindian(s)african american(s)


 mixed marriage


Finding Books vs. Finding Articles

Finding Books (and all library materials except articles):  use a library catalog. See Guide

  • OskiCat = UC Berkeley libraries, MELVYL = ten UC campuses


Finding Articles:  use an article database

an article database includes information about published items such as articles, dissertations, reports, books, book chapters, etc., which exist but which may or may not be available at any particular library.You will need to find the full text of the article online or find the library location of the journal on campus.


Finding Books


OskiCat Quick Guide

1. keyword search with truncation; look for official subject headings

  • keywords: indian* african american* relations

find a relevant title; click on the title, find official subject terms that might be useful, such as:

  • african americans relations with indians
  • indians of north america - mixed descent
  • cherokee indians - race identity
  • ex-slaves of indian tribes
  • blacks relations with indians

2. modifying your search; adding primary source subheading

  • keywords: indians of california
  • modify search
  • (add to your search term): indians of california personal narratives

examples of subheadings that will retrieve primary sources

sourcespersonal narrativesdiaries

3. limiting your search by year of publication and other options

  • advanced keyword search

any type: women cherokee
languages: english
year of publication:1970 and before 2000

4. if you know the name of a person, search them as an author and as keywords

  • author: mankiller, wilma
  • keywords:wilma mankiller

If you're not finding enough:

  • think of alternative terms to search
  • search MELVYL for all 10 campuses; use Request button to borrow things from other campuses
  • search an article database
  • ask for assistance (ESL or Doe or Moffitt reference desks or here)


Finding Article Databases

First, think about academic disciplines. What academic disciplines (ex:  history, chemistry, women’s studies) might be relevant to your topic?  Think creatively.

Start with the Library web site at

Find the list of Article databases by subject (disciplines, such as History, Chemistry, Business)

Don't forget to look at General article databases (such as JSTOR).

If appropriate, also look at newspaper databases such as Ethnic NewsWatch (ethnic newspapers) andLexis-Nexis Academic (the largest). But - what years do they cover?


Useful Databases for ES Research

America: History and Life
Chicano Database
Early Encounters in North America
Ethnic News Watch
MLA Bibliography
Project MUSE
Sociological Abstracts

Searching Article Databases

Project MUSE

advanced search

  • california
    indian* or native*
    statut* or legal or law*

years: 1840 to 1900


Ethnic Newswatch

  • Select Ethnic Group

Sample Search:

Chicano Movement
(Use "All ethnic groups" for this search.)


select records to save them to your personalized list; list may be e-mailed, downloaded, printed

Finding the Actual Journal Article

once you've used an article database to find citations, you must find the library location of the journal containing the article if the database is not full text. There are three ways to do this:

  • the database links to the full text of the article online
  • the database includes UC e-links UC e-links which performs a MELVYL search for the journal title AND attempts to locate the full text of the article online (if available)

    for a review of UC e-links, try the tutorial movie at

  • you need to search OskiCat by the name of the journal title (NOT article title); pull down the "Entire Collection" menu to limit to "Journals, Magazines, Newspapers."

For printed journals, you will need to know:

  • the librar(ies) that own the journal
  • the call number
  • whether we own the issue you want
  • whether that issue is bound or unbound
  • whether that issue is checked out

For assistance with reading a MELVYL periodical record, go here or ask us for assistance.


Getting Help and Other Important Info ...

UCB Library Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Citing Your Sources (with a guide to APA, MLA, Chicago Styles)

UCB Ethnic Studies Library

Accessing Library Databases from Off Campus:

if you are not connected to the campus network or AirBears, set up the proxy server.

Ask for Research Help!

24/7 chat, e-mail, reference desks at most libraries, etc.


Copyright 2009 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. 
Contact John Berry, Lillian Castillo-Speed, Wei Chi Poon or Corliss Lee
Last updated 10/13/09.