Zotero. A simple way to keep track of the materials you find and use throughout your research process. Zotero collects references from library catalogs, databases, websites, and other sources. Falvey has guides to installing and using Zotero.
Philosopher’s Index. The most useful resource for finding journal literature in philosophy. It helps to try multiple keyword combinations, and narrow your results by subject. Limited cited reference searching is available.
PhilPapers. Another useful resource for philosophy literature. This database contains expert-edited bibliographies on specific topics. Customize your settings to get access to articles through Falvey Library by following the instructions in this guide.
Whenever you are doing research on interdisciplinary topics, it is helpful to consult databases specific to the disciplines involved. You can find lists of discipline-specific databases on our subject guides page.
For example, if you are doing research on artificial intelligence, it will help to use the engineering databases Compendix and Inspec.
It may also be helpful to consult general-purpose databases like Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar. These are particularly useful for cited reference searching, that is, finding articles that cite an article you’re already aware of.
Journal Finder. This is a tool on Falvey’s website that will allow you to locate articles when you have the citation, but no direct link.
Steps to finding resources on a special topic
1. Create a new Zotero folder, or some other place to keep track of references as you discover them.
2. Do some basic keyword searching in the database that best fits your topic. Look for articles that are close to your specific area of interest and take note of their subject headings. Try different combinations of keywords and keep a list of ones that work well.
3. Identify a small number of key texts on the topic. Some of these may appear in your course syllabus. Others can be found by consulting the bibliographies of reference sources, such as encyclopedia articles and similar overviews, or by noting the frequency with which they are mentioned by other authors. Also try searching for the most obvious keywords in the library’s catalog.
4. Perform cited reference searching for these key works. You may need to try this in multiple subject-specific or general databases to get a good idea of what’s out there.
5. Look for patterns. Do specific authors’ names keep coming up? Are there specific books or journals that are mentioned frequently? Often special issues of journals or edited collections of articles will be devoted to a topic of particular interest. Take note of these, as well as the names of the editors.
6. Read through the literature you have gathered so far. Remove less interesting articles, and mark others for closer inspection. Close reading of the latter will suggest other authors, books, or keywords to try. Often this process will reveal more useful resources than any amount of searching.
7. Return to the databases with the additional clues you have gathered. You may also want to try databases in related areas, as these will contain a different selections of the available literature.