Skip to Main Content

Resources for Geosciences Graduate Students

Research Roadmap for Finding Information

Some things to consider throughout the search process...

Define the scope of your project.  

  • Do you need to narrow your topic from a broad, general one?

  • How much has been written about your topic?  If it is a well-studied field, there will be plenty of literature in a wide variety of formats.  If it is a new topic or idea, there may be very little published about it.

  • Do you want to focus on a particular location, time period, technology, theory, person, group, project, or event? 

  • What do you already know about the topic?  What do you need to investigate?

  • Consider the individuals or groups or agencies who have a stake in your topic.  Who publishes information about this topic?  Where does their funding come from?

  • Start a list of keywords to use.  Terminology can change, so this list will need updating as you search.

  • Do background reading to find out more about your topic.Try a general search in Omni to find out the range of books and ebooks published (important when examining a long-established field).


Try an initial, very general search in library databases or Google Scholar.  Not sure which databases to use?  Contact your librarian for advice - this will save you time.

  •  Filter by publication year - how long it the publishing history for this field?  Are there any publication trends?

  • Filter by controlled vocabulary  to see the categories for this topic - this is where you can start narrowing your topic, and gain more keywords/synonyms.

  • Filter by document type, e.g., to see if any review papers about your topic exist.

  • Start a list of key researchers, groups, agencies and labs.

  • Start a timeline for your literature review.

  • Keep track of the different search keywords and the databases you use. 


Search specialized databases in depth for journal articles, technical reports, theses, etc.

Your Research Data

Consider creating a plan to manage and organize your project's research data - the earlier, the better.  Some questions:

  • What types of data will you collect or create?
  • How will you name your data files?  
  • What conventions and procedures will you use to structure your data files?
  • What documentation do you need to create so your data files will be understood far in the future?
  • Do you need to use a metadata standard?
  • How and where will you store your data long-term?
  • Who will have access to your data?
  • How will you preserve and share your data?
  • What is the cost for data storage?
  • What ethical and legal matters do you need to consider?

A useful tool for creating a research data management plan is the free DMP Assistant.  This template is available from the Canadian Portage Network.