Contemporary Social and Environmental Problems
A Guide to Library Resources for Geography 210
Geography 210: Geographic perspectives on contemporary national and international problems. Topics vary each term and include such themes as environmental quality, food production, urban problems, particular social and political conflicts.
Library Session Goals
- Introduction to the University Library system and the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL).
- How to navigate the Library website to find course reserves, contact information, the library catalog, and geography resources.
- Identify sources of geography research and evidence.
- The difference between multidisciplinary and subject-specific databases and how to use them to find full-text of journal articles.
- Understand how to structure an article database search.
- Learn about citation management tools.
About SSHEL | Background Information | Scholarly Research | Article Databases | Books, Journals, & Media | Citing Sources | Research Assistance
The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) provides specialized resources, information services, and instruction for the departments of anthropology, Asian American studies, economics, gender and women's studies, geography & geographic information science, political science, psychology, and sociology; the College of Applied Health Sciences; College of Education; the School of Social Work; the School of Labor and Employment Relations; and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
SSHEL is located on the east side of the first floor of the Main Library (Rooms 100 and 101), and includes circulation services, books, journals, reference material, quiet study areas, collaboration rooms, computer terminals, printers/copiers/scanners, and friendly librarians and staff. For more information about SSHEL, see our About Us page.
***Need research assistance? Contact SSHEL via email, phone (217-244-1864), online chat, or in person (SSHEL North - Room 100 and SSHEL South - Room 101, Main Library!***
Background Information: Reference Sources
Reference sources, online or in print, include encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and directories. These are great starting points for background information about a specific topic.
Online Reference Sources
You will be asked to log in with your NetID and password to access online reference sources off-campus.
- A Companion to Environmental Geography- The first book to comprehensively and systematically map the research frontier of 'human-environment geography' in an accessible and comprehensive way.
- The Dictionary of Human Geography - This fifth edition contains over 1000 entries, including 300 new entries, about all aspects of human geography. This edition also charts the development of new themes and research within human geography and connections with other fields. Entries are listed alphabetically in bold type. Each entry contains cross-references and suggested readings. The dictionary also includes an index and a bibliography for readers to conduct more in-depth research.
- The Encyclopedia of Earth
- International Encyclopedia of Human Geography -This 12-volume series documents and explains “the full spectrum of issues facing humanity today across the planet.” The essays, by over 800 contributors from 40+ countries, summarize the knowledge of the discipline, exploring relationships among people, places, and environments. Volume One contains a “Guide to Use of the Encyclopedia,” list of contributors, table of contents, and subject classification list. A comprehensive index at the back of Volume Twelve allows for easy reference.
Print Reference Sources
- Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate (Q. 551.6 AI51e)
Peer-reviewed materials are publications reviewed by "expert readers" or referees prior to the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the material, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication. Peer-reviewed materials are also referred to as refereed or scholarly. Peer-reviewed materials are significant to the research and the literature of most academic fields because they assure readers that the information conveyed is reliable and timely.
Many article databases now allow you to limit your search to display only peer-reviewed (refereed) results. Use this option to eliminate guesswork and rest assured that your results are all from peer-reviewed sources.
Note: beware the "scholarly" label...as we've seen, a source can be "scholarly" but not necessarily peer-reviewed. Look for "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" to be sure.
Finding Journal Articles
- First, search for the topic you are interested in by using the article databases listed below. Try words to describe the concepts you are researching.
- Consider searching for these concepts together.
- Use the thesaurus to find additional or similar terms.
- Find an article that looks interesting? Look at the article's citation for subjects used in that database and run additional searches using these subjects.
- Next, find the actual text of the articles you want by clicking on the Discover button in a database.
- If the Discover page indicates that we have online full text, click the link to get to the article. In some cases, we may have the full text article available in multiple databases. If the Discover page says there is no online full-text available, click the link next to "Library Catalog- Holdings in VUFIND" to search the library catalog for print holdings. This will show you if the library owns a copy of the journal/newspaper/book in PRINT form, and tells you the location of that print volume. NOTE: The library catalog will show you the results by JOURNAL title (not article title). You will need to find the year and/or volume and issue number of the journal that contains your article.
- OR If you know the citation of the articles you want, from bibliographies or suggested readings lists, you can use the Journal and Article Locator.
Collections of Journals: Databases
Use databases to search multiple online journals at the same time. Listed below are geography related databases.
- Academic Search Complete - Multidisciplinary database. Good place to start any research.
- CAB Abstracts - Covers agriculture, veterinary and animal science, nutrition, soil science, land/water management, forestry, natural and environmental resources, leisure, recreation and tourism, rural development, and some aspects of human health. Goes back to 1910.
- Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management - Major database with broad topic coverage, including agricultural biotechnology, ecology, aquatic ecology, microbiology, toxicology and environmental engineering.
- GeoRef - Major database for geography and related fields. Covers earth sciences, ecology, geosciences, development studies, geomechanies, human geography, and oceanography.
- GEOBASE - Identifies articles, books and other publications on geology and earth sciences.
- Sociological Abstracts - Core resource abstracts and citations international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
- SocINDEX - Provides access to articles from major journals in sociology and related fields. Coverage includes more than 1,300 "core" journals dating back to 1895, and selected article coverage from over 2,900 additional journals.
- Web of Science - General database for the sciences and social sciences. Good place to start your research.
Suggested Databases in Related Fields
Books, Journals, & Media
The Online Library Catalog is the first place to go if you're looking for books or media, or if you're looking for a specific journal title. The catalog is a list of all the items the library has in both print and electronic form.
Searching the Online Library Catalog
Once you're in the catalog, you can choose to perform a basic search or an advanced search.
The basic search option allows you to enter terms into a single search box and select a limiting field from the drop-down menu: Keyword, Title, Author, Subject or ISBN/ISSN.
If you click the "Advanced Search" link beneath the search box, this will give you three search boxes and some limiting options, allowing you to control your search a bit more:
- Next to each search box you can limit your search to Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject.
- Combine search terms with AND, OR, or NOT
- AND: looks for records that include all of the search terms
- OR: looks for records that include any of the search terms - this will increase your results significantly
- NOT: looks for records that have one term but not the other term
- Limit results by version (print, electronic, microform), language, and format (book, journal, movie, etc.)
After you retrieve your results list you can sort the results using the drop-down menu at the top of the list, or you can continue to narrow the results by selecting the "facets" in the bar to the right of the results list. Some of the facets you can use to narrow the results are:
- Format (book, journal, movie, etc.)
- Topic (subject headings)
- Subject Area (general subjects like science, law, or social science)
***For more information on using the Online Library Catalog to find material, see Tips for Using the VuFind Catalog.***
Items Not at Illinois
For books, journals, and media not at Illinois search the I-Share Catalog first, then if it's not available in I-Share, send an Interlibrary Loan request.
Guidelines for citing electronic and print resources are available from the Library's Citation Styles guide and the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library's Style and Writing Guides.
Need help collecting and organizing your citations and producing a list of works cited? Citation management tools can help! The guide “Citation Management Software Overview” helps users choose a citation management tool and provides links to other guides on specific options like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote.
Ask-A-Librarian for Help with Your Research
Use our Ask-A-Librarian Service to IM, chat, email, phone or find a reference librarian.
Contact a librarian to request an appointment for an in-depth Research Consultation.
Finding Your Way Around
There are over 25 departmental libraries on our campus, and sometimes it may be difficult to determine where to find the resources you need. For your class, the library that you will be using most is the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library. We are located in Room 100 of the Main Library building.
More Help Using the Library