Junior Colloquium on Contemporary Urban Issues

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This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for the Junior Colloquium on Contemporary Urban Issues.

For even more Urban studies resources, check out the research guide.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

If you need assistance organizing, analyzing, or visualizing your data sets, please visit the Empirical Research Center (ERC)

Debbie Becher

Personal Librarian 
Jennie Correia
103 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall

Background Information
Books & Libraries
Scholarly Articles
Other Sources
Writing & Citing

Finding Background Information

Consult scholarly reference tools to get an overview of a topic, an introduction to a theory, definitions to discipline-specific terms, and more. 

Finding Books & Using Other Libraries

Barnard/Columbia Libraries:

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library. Use the Catalog search to find books, print & online journals (not articles in journals), multimedia sources, and other materials in the Barnard and Columbia libraries. 

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

Search tips: To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "Los Angeles". 
  • Use * for truncation (to find variant endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; feminis* will find feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.
  • For more complex search, use Boolean Keyword searching:
    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered;
    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.
    • Use parentheses to group terms: "Los Angeles" AND (black OR "African American") AND ("oral history" OR interview*)
  • If you find a book that's relevant, look at its Subject Headings and click through to find more related works. If you find a book on the shelves in a library, look at what items are on the shelves nearby to find more related works. 

Materials in other libraries:

  • WorldCat: Search for items in thousands of libraries worldwide simultaneously.
  • Public libraries: Which local library serves the city you are researching? Examples:
  • Academic library: What universities/college libraries are in or near the city you are researching? Example: UCLA Library
  • We can get you items from other libraries, at no cost!

Finding Scholarly Articles - Databases 

There are over 1,500 databases available through CLIO. You can use the Articles section in CLIO to search multiple databases simultaneously, including many listed below. 

Database search tips:

  • The general search tips for CLIO also apply to the article databases. 
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, the bibliography/works cited page can be a useful road map to other relevant literature that was previously published.   
  • If you find an article or a book that is relevant, you can use Google Scholar and some other databases to find out whether other scholars cited it after it was published. Search for the title of an article/monograph and search and click on "Cited by" to generate a list of publications that have referenced that source.
  • In most databases, you can narrow your results to scholarly publications only. Look for "limit to ... scholarly publications/peer-reviewed/refereed publications only" or similar language. This will help you find articles from journals that have gone through a rigorous peer review process.  

Here are some database recommendations for this seminar:

  • America: History and Life has citations and full text of journal articles about the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. You'll find journal articles going back to 1964.
  • Anthropology Plus is the most comprehensive index to articles and books in the field of anthropology. You'll find references to scholarly articles, reports, commentary, and edited collections of essays in all areas of anthropology, from the 19th century to the present. 
  • Annual Reviews are great for getting comprehensive summaries of research on topics in a wide variety of fields.
  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals has citations to articles in architectural and related journals covering architecture, city planning, urban design and related disciplines.
  • Sociological Abstracts has citations and abstracts covering the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database provides citations from 1963 to the present to journal articles, book reviews, books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers. 
  • Urban Studies Abstracts provides bibliographic records covering essential areas related to urban studies, including urban affairs, community development, urban history, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. Records are selected from many of the top titles within the discipline, including Journal of Urban Affairs, Urban Studies, and Canadian Journal of Urban Research.

Finding Newspapers

Other Sources of Local Information

  • Index to Current Urban Documents provides information about reports and research by local government agencies, civic organizations, academic and research organizations, and metropolitan and regional planning agencies.

  • Local archives:

    • Archives may be independent or associated with libraries, universities, non-profits, city agencies, museums, historical societies.
    • Some collections may be digitized and available online, but most archival records are not online. 
    • Check out the guide to Archival Research at Barnard and Beyond

  • Local government agencies - especially for statistics, land use, zoning, etc.

  • Community boards

  • Neighborhood associations 

  • Social service agencies 

  • Preservation organizations

  • Historical societies

  • What else can you find? Share with your classmates!

Finding Data

  • ERC data sources & guides for this class - includes the following:
    • a list of commonly used data sources relevant to this course
    • a guide to finding & using US Census data, including American Community Survey (ACS) data, using American FactFinder
    • a guide to finding historical US Census data using the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) database
    • a guide to using Social Explorer to generate maps using US Census data, including ACS data
  • Social Sciences Data & Statistics guide - if you want even more data sources

Writing & Citing

  • Barnard guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.
  • Cite Source presents visual information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky sources. Check out the source help for APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.​
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.
  • Quick Guide to Data Citation (PDF file) is a handy resource from the International Association for Social Science Information Services Technology (IASSIST).

Last updated September 5, 2017