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Geography Research Guide

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TO Guide Scholarly

Scholarly Research

College professors will usually require some scholarly (also called "academic" or "peer-reviewed") sources.

These are the three things to ask yourself in order to determine if your source is "scholarly":

  • Was it written by experts? The authors are specialists in their field. Most researchers will list their educational background (e.g. PhD, EdD, JD, LLM, MFA, MA, MS, etc...) and academic affiliation (the university where they work, if applicable).
  • Is it based on research? The findings are based on a study conducted by the authors (known as "primary" or "empirical" research), or on a review of other expert literature (known as "secondary" research). There should be a bibliography, reference page, or works cited list of the sources they used to conduct their research.
  • Who is the intended audience? Scholarly sources will use complex, expert language (jargon) and can be fairly lengthy. Most academic research is published in peer-reviewed journals or books and are not always freely available through Google. Use the CSUSM databases to find your scholarly sources.



Journal articles, book chapters

Magazines, newspapers, most websites

Written by experts

Written by anyone or anonymous

Based on research

Based on opinion

Longer, harder to read

Shorter, easier to read

AKA: academic, peer-reviewed, empirical

AKA: mass media, popular press

Find out more about scholarly research with this short summary and explanatory video.

Articles and Books

TO Guide Articles


    These databases have mostly scholarly articles:

    The following databases have mostly popular press (mass media) articles:

    See an article you want in one of these databases?

    1. Click on the "Get it! @CSUSM" link
    2. Look for "Full Text" in PDF or HTML format
    3. If we don't own the full-text, simply fill out an Interlibrary Loan request. It's free for you to use and takes about 1 - 10 business days to arrive.
    4. Any time you need help, ask Toni Olivas (Education & Sociology Librarian) or email You can also try our live chat during library hours.

    Note: If you use Google Scholar, don't pay for articles from publisher websites! Find the full text for free through our library.

    TO Guide Search Strategies

    Search Strategies

    Search strategies to get better results when searching a database:

    1. Identify key concepts and synonyms
    2. Use "quotes" around phrases
    3. Use AND between different concepts
    4. Use OR between similar concepts
    5. Use an asterisk* to find word variations

    Bonus: Use NOT to exclude concepts

    Build your own search strategy (University of Arizona)

    Citing Sources

    APA (General)

    What is APA style?

    APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is the citation style used in most of the social sciences as well as some of the natural sciences.

    Official APA Style Manual at CSUSM Library

    This is the official APA manual published by the American Psychological Association. It is the most recent and up-to-date edition available, currently the 6th edition.

    • Library copies (BF76.7 P83 2010) 
      The CSUSM Library owns several copies of the official APA manual that you can consult in person. Click on the link above to see where they are located.
    • The official APA website 
      Need access to the official APA guidelines right now but can't get to a copy of the book? Try out their website. It has helpful FAQs and basic guidelines.

    Helpful Online Guides

    What is a DOI? 

    APA style requires that you include a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) whenever you cite the online version of an article.  A DOI is a special number that identifies each unique article in a database.  Please note- some articles may not have a DOI.  

    To find the DOI, Ask a Librarian or check out the follwing tools:

    Using APA for Special Cases 

    More FAQs at the official APA website...

    Sample Paper in APA Style

    GEOG classes

    GEOG 202 Knowles-Yanez

    Think - Pair - Share

    1. What makes a "good" website? What features do you look for and what do you avoid?

    2. How can you tell if a website is biased or objective? How can you tell if information is missing or misrepresented?

    3. What makes an author reliable or trustworthy? What if there is no author listed?

    4. What can you learn from Wikipedia? How do you use Wikipedia in your research assignments?

    Advanced Googling

    Country Resources (beyond Google and Wikipedia)

    General background:

    Economic trends and analysis (e.g. demographics, industry reports, market surveys):

    News databases:

    And a word on citations.


    Need Help?

    Denise Kane

    Education, Sociology, Liberal Studies and Human Development Librarian
    Office Location: 
    KEL 5010
    Office Hours: 
    By Appointment