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A guide to the resources for geology and geophysics

Library Research for GLGY 555 - What's on this Page?

This guide will introduce you to library resources and tools that you will use to research your selected topic in Early Earth history.  This guide will provide you with strategies that you can use for searching for and collecting the scholarly articles that you will need to complete your research presentation.  

Session Goals

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Use Google Scholar, ScopusWeb of Science or GeoRef  to obtain scholarly articles relevant to your topic.
  • Find at least one review article and one research article on your topic using one of the databases discussed.
  • Understand how you might need to focus or limit your topic.
  • Cite and reference your sources using the style based on the journal Geology.   

Finding Relevant Articles

  • Identifying different types of scholarly scientific information
  • Search Tools
  • Search Techniques

Narrowing your Topic

Effective Citing and Writing

Supplementary Material

  • Popular vs. Scholarly Journals
  • Research vs. Review Articles
  • Types of Scholarly Articles
  • Focusing Your Topic

Finding Relevant Articles

Google Scholar
Enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports across broad areas of research.  Use the Find It UofC link to connect to university subscribed online content. 

An excellent interdisciplinary abstract and citation database, includes peer-reviewed titles from international publishers, Open Access journals, conference proceedings, trade publications, quality web sources.

Web of Science
Indexes core journals, conference proceedings, data sets and other resources in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.  

Provides comprehensive coverage of the geology and geophysics of the world.  Focus is primarily on geology and geophysics as it pertains to the geology of an area, but it also indexes articles about groundwater and soil contamination.  Covers geology back to 1785.
Note:  You can remove conference abstracts (abstracts only) from your search results by selecting "Exclude Abstracts Only" from your search 

Interlibrary Loan Request Form  - Use to request material that the University of Calgary library does not have.

Most of the databases above link to fulltext content.  Look for the  to link to full text content.  

Effective Citing and Writing

Citation Style for GLGY555

Geology journal (This is a printable reference guide with examples for your references cited section.  For guidance on how to write in-text citations, consult the Manuscript Guidelines.  For information on how to format your reference list, consult the GSA Reference Style Guide

Critical Reading Chart

Use the Critical Reading Chart (link below) to help you summarize and synthesize the research articles that you will be reading.  

Citation Software

Mendeley enables you to organize, share and discover

Writing a Literature Review - This guide is designed for writing education and social sciences papers however the principles are the same for writing a geoscience paper.  

You Quote it, You Note it from Vaughan Memorial Library at Acadia University.(Requires Adobe Flash Player)

Narrowing your Topic

Part 1-Identify Search Terms or Keywords
Start with a list of keywords for your topic - synonyms, variant spellings and scientific names for key concepts. For this assignment you will also want to consider the following:

  • When and where did/does your event/deposit occur (temporal, geographical, and geological context)

  • How is your topic important to Earth history?

  • How is the topic relevant to modern inhabitants of the Earth?

Part 2-Use Boolean Operators such as "AND" and "OR" to Structure Your Search

Boolean operators
allow you to specify a logical relationship between your search terms. These operators allow you to narrow or broaden your search statement. Truncation or Wildcard symbols (e.g. * or ?) allow you to retrieve variations of a specific word.

AND narrows your search
(Finds articles with all your search terms)


  • ground?water  and  pharmaceutical

  • groundwater  and drug*

OR broadens your search
(Finds articles with any of the search terms).


  • groundwater or ground water or ground-water 

  • pharmaceutical* or  drug*

Phrase Searching
Finds search terms that are adjacent or next to each other.


  • "pharmaceutical contamination"
  • "ground water"

Truncation and Wildcard symbols

In many online resources  use the asterisk  * to find plurals or variant spellings
*Make sure the word you are truncating is not too short as you will retrieve too many variations of your word otherwise.


  • drug*  will retrieve
    drug, drugs

  • ground?water  will retrieve
    groundwater, ground water, ground-water

Supplementary Material

Types of Scholarly Articles

Articles are the main method of communication between scientists.  They are relatively short publications (almost always less than 50 pages and more generally around 8-12 pages).  They are published in journals.  Each journal issue contains several articles.

Scholarly Articles are peer reviewed and can be classified as:

Research Article (Theoretical or Experimental) - Written for a university audience, reports original research results, either theoretical or experimental and is organized similar to a lab report.

Review Article - Review articles summarize the research conducted by others on a specific scientific topic.  These articles provide a good overview of a topic.

Other types of Articles

Extended Abstracts - Extended abstracts tend to be 4-5 pages in length and are papers that are presented at a conference. Extended abstracts may or may not be peer reviewed.   

Focusing Your topic


This can provide you strategies that you can use for collecting the information you will need to successfully complete your research paper.

Coming up with a suitable topic for your paper is hard work.  It is difficult to write about things you have very little knowledge on.  Before jumping straight into searching the web or research databases for information, allow yourself to explore general topic areas. 

    1. First, brainstorm possible topics
      • What topic(s) interest(s) you
      • Why did you choose this topic?
      • Have you learned about this topic in class?  What have you learned about this topic?  List things you know to be true, and things you are not so sure about.
      • Do you know some one who has knowledge about this topic?  What do they know about it?
    2. You will then need to find a focus for your paper.  Use sources such as your textbook, course readings or Wikipedia to learn about the details, nuances and issues related to your topic.  Try to find a review article on your topic in either Scopus or Web of Science.
    3. Review the notes that you collected, looking at the themes and issues that stood out as you did your reading.  Make a list of possible foci for your research.  Above all, chose something that you find interesting, the will meet the requirements of your assignment, that has enough information and that you have enough time to tackle.   

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