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Capstones for Social Sciences

Resources for Social Sciences Capstone Projects

Worldcat Considerations for Capstone Projects

‚ÄčSearch Macalester Worldcat for materials owned by the Macalester library and thousands of other libraries around the world. Note that while articles are included in Worldcat, they are limited. The best place to search for articles is the appropriate subject database for your field, Google Scholar, and Web of Science.

Search tips:
1. Sort your search results by Best Match to see the results closely related to your search terms at the top.
2. Look at subject headings of records for additional search terms. This is useful even if the item is only loosely related to your research topic.
3. If looking for primary sources, add the word "Sources" as part of a subject search. You can search subjects by typing "su:" into the search box. E.g. su:civil war sources.

Search Tips

General Search Tips:

  • Use Research Guides to identify databases for different subject areas, including both interdisciplinary (e.g. Google Scholar or Academic Search Premier) and subject specific databases (e.g. PsychINFO or MLA International Bibliography). 
  • Use A-Z database list to browse full list of library databases or limit to different databases types, such as primary sources, newspapers, video, etc.
  • Mine references: Look at the sources that are cited in any source you find valuable.
  • Use citation databases: These enable you to discover sources that cite a source you've already discovered, very useful for following a conversation forward in time. Many research database have this functionality to some degree. The Web Of Science is especially good at this. Google Scholar also has this functionality.
  • Look for literature reviews: Literature reviews summarize significant scholarly writings on a topic. If you find one on a topic relevant to your research it will likely provide you with lots of references to pertinent sources.
  • For finding sources outside of mainstream academic literature, including international scholarship of the mainstream academic literature try searching open access databases or the Emerging Scholars section of Web of Science (found using the More Settings dropdown menu).
  • Optimize Google School by adding MacLinks (note: add Marina's video)

Citation Searching

Examine and analyze both the references used by an article or book, and the subsequent articles/books that cited a source.  Following this "citation trail" forwards and backwards allows you to truly discover the scholarly conversation surrounding your research topic. Many disciplinary databases include references and citing sources. The two databases listed below  are great places for finding scholarly literature and also offer some citation trail searching. Note that Web of Science allows you to look at the references for an article/book, the other sources that have cited that article/book, and to find other sources that have use the same references. Google Scholar only allows you to see what other articles/books cite an article, but contains the most current scholarship.

Research Data

Research data take many forms. They can include anything from numbers on spreadsheets, to interview files, to images, to cell samples.

Have a plan and be organized with your data.

Gathering and working with data is often a time consuming process. Make sure you start early. We recommend having a data management plan that helps you organize the steps you will take with your data from the beginning to the end of your project.

The basic elements of a data management plan are:

  • Identifying your data need
  • Collecting 
  • Documenting
  • Organizing
  • Storing/ Preserving/ Sharing

For help with creating a data management plan, along with other aspects of the data lifecycle, please our Data Management Modules.

Finding data:

  • Add the word Data or Statistics to your searches.
  • Social Science Data Guide
  • Identify names of data sources when reviewing literature.
  • Ask other scholars/ experts to share their data.