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GS150 Essentials of Geology: Research Strategies

Research techniques for information on topics related to Geology.

Finding Resources

TMU Powell Library Catalog

Search TMU Powell Library Catalog

  Information on many of the topics covered in this geology course can be found with a simple keyword search in the Powell Library Catalog:  on the library Web site <> or with the search box above. 

  Searching the topic as a Subject may prove much more efficient.  Simply put su: in front of the topic. like this: su:volcanoes.  Only records containing "volcanoes" in the Subject field will appear in the results list. 

NOTE: Keyword is the default search and so no field index code is necessary.  See Field Index codes below:

  The next step is to apply "Using Sources to Find More Sources".  This is especially important when an initial search retrieves only a few relevant sources or the results list is so huge more focused terminology is needed.  Here's what you can do:

>Examine the Subjects associated with a source

  • Search your topic as a keyword(s).  For example <ocean shoreline processes> (See Figure 1)
  • Select the title of a relevant record (See Figure 2)
  • Scroll down to Subjects. Here is where you may find some additional terminology to use to either focus or expand your research. (See Fig. 3)

>Identify additional searchable key terms from the Title, Table of Contents and/or Summary. 

>When an item is retrieved, peruse the bibliography for additional related resources.  TIP:  the presence of a bibliography is an indication of a scholarly work.  See Identifying Scholarly Sources for more details.

Fig. 1  

  Fig. 2  


Fig. 3  


  To find Scientific Research studies on any topic, add the keyword "method" and add an asterisk (*) at the end of it.  Like this:

      faults geology method*

  • The keyword "method" is a uniquely integral part of every scientific research article.  Therefore, using it as part of your search query will help to eliminate the articles that are not scientific research studies. 
  • The asterisk will command the search engine to look for the root word "method" and every variation thereafter, i.e. method, methods, methodologies, methodology.
  • A keyword search is the most profitable type of search for finding articles as many articles do not have associated subject headings simply typing in search terms without any field index commands will cause the search engine to default to the keyword field.  

  To retrieve only books or only articles, select the appropriate Resource Format from the Filters to the left of the results list..

  To retrieve only the most scholarly articles, limit the results list to Peer Reviewed (see the figure to the right)  

From the column on the left of the results list, find the Content Type section and check "Peer Reviewed".  This will reduce the results list to only those articles that are in "academic scholarly journals" and those that are in "peer reviewed journals", i.e., they have been reviewed and approved by other scholars in the field and are therefore, considered the most scholarly of articles.  These will be the best research articles available to you.

 Further limit your results by date and language (see the figure to the left). 

 Again from the options under Search Tools, scroll down to Year of Publication and further down to Filter       by Language.
 You may also find the Academic Discipline section helpful in focusing or expanding your search.  Select "Show     more" to extend the list.

kw: to search Keywords in the whole record (author, title subject, table of contents, summary, abstract, etc.)  This is the default search.
su: to search the Subject Field  -- This may not be helpful when looking for articles, as many periodical articles do not have subject headings in their records
ti: to search the Title Field
au: to search the Author Field
pb: to search the Publisher Field


Last updated January 2023.

Find a Topic with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

LC Subject Headings makes research much more efficient and effective..

LCSH is an excellent method of identifying a topic that can be used for this geology research project.  LCSH will identify variant terms, narrower terms and/or broader terms related to the field of Geology.  

LCSH is a standardized, controlled vocabulary used in most library catalogs.  These terms are used in the Subject field in all of the resource records.  The use of these normalized subjects makes it possible for the researcher (you) to find resources on the same topic even though authors, scholars and even you might use any number of other words for the same idea.

For example, a search for "geology" in Library of Congress Subject Headings retrieves 39 pages of subject headings related to this field. See Figures  1 & 2.  Each of these 600+ topics contain variants terms, related terms, narrower terms and/or broader terms from which which you can choose to search the Powell Library Catalog and related databases for books, articles and technical reports.

Fig. 1                                                                                                                                    

Fig. 2

For example selecting Faults (Geology) reveals several Variants, a Broader Term and several Narrower Terms.  See Figure 3.

Fig. 3.


Last updated July, 2018

Required Reading

Faith, Reason and Earth History

Presents an argument for constructive thinking about origins and earth history in the context of Scripture, showing readers how to analyze available scientific data and approach unsolved problems.

The Heavens and the Earth

"Thoroughly Biblical and committed to solid science, The Heavens and the Earth is a groundbreaking textbook that advocates a robust young-Earth creationism while also respectfully presenting naturalistic views of history. The content surveys widely across disciplines to provide an integrated approach to God's creation along with man's role and interactions with it. Topics include rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, natural disasters, historical geology, oceanography, meteorology, climate, astronomy, and many others." -- Back cover