Citation Trails

Open in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.

Discover how to leverage other scholars' work to fuel your own research using citation trails from relevant theses or dissertations as a starting point.

Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.

Using the page to your right, select Proquest Dissertations and Theses - Fulltext.

You may be prompted to enter your UA NetID and password.

You are now in the Proquest Dissertations and Theses Database.

Finding Theses

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You'll find this database useful for a number of reasons.

1. It can help you ensure that no one else has already covered the topic/approach you intend to write on

2. It can give you a number of examples of published theses to consider as you plan to write your own, including:

  • Examples of appropriate topics of study
  • Getting a sense of the correct scope for a thesis/dissertation
  • Examples of thesis statements, theoretical approaches or research methodologies used, organizational structure, etc.

Finding Theses

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First let's see if we can get a results set that contains all the Master's level theses written on Slavic topics.

  • Luckily, this database has some nice ways to limit results (fulltext, year, subject, etc.) that do NOT require you to enter a keyword of any kind in one of the boxes
  • Using one or more of the Search Options that can limit your results set (but not any keywords in the boxes), return a results set that is 1) all fulltext, 2) only MA theses, and 3) only on Slavic subjects

How many results did you find?

Using Others' Works to Fuel your own Research

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Browsing and skimming published theses like these can help you get a better sense of how to approach your own writing, whether that is a thesis, or just a term paper.

Select "Modify Search" (in the upper right) and limit this results set by adding the keyword "vampire" in one of the boxes and clicking "Search."

Scrolling through the results, which of the authors, below, has written a Master's thesis on this topic?

Using Others' Works to Fuel your own Research

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Open the fulltext PDF and take a look at how the thesis is structured.

1) The first chapter lays out the argument, approach, and briefly reviews relevant literature on the topic.

2) This is followed by chapters that support the argument, the conclusion, and a full bibliography.

3) Because a literature review (where the author surveys all the previous work on the thesis topic) is generally a part of any respectable thesis or dissertation, the bibliography can be a gold mine for future researchers, and the literature review can help contextualize and explain the history of scholarship up to that point.

Scroll down and skim through the bibliography for this thesis.

How many titles in the bibliography are in languages other than English?

Using Others' Works to Fuel your own Research

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While the sources in this bibliography are mostly in English, you'll often come across citations for works in languages you don't know (or don't know well)

Should this happen when you're doing research, what should you do?

Assignment Description: Following Citation Trails

Now that we've introduced you to the ProQuest database and to theses and dissertations in general, let's get started.

Basically, in this assignment you are going to:

1) Find a recent dissertation on a topic you are interested in;

2) Use the bibliography in the dissertation to peruse other sources on the same topic (and get some sense of the history of scholarship and major thinkers);

3) Identify a major work in the bibliography that is also held by the UA Libraries (in print);

4) Find that work in the stacks and then use its bibliography to locate (and then track down) several other related works (in print or online);

5) Document these activities, so that you can provide evidence you successfully completed this assignment/activity.

Finding a Relevant Dissertation

First you'll need to identify a recent, relevant (and high quality) dissertation to use for this assignment.

1) Go back to the ProQuest Dissertation & Theses database and modify your search so that your results will only include dissertations that are fulltext and were published in the last 5-10 years.

NOTE: You may want to remove the subject heading limitations and just search for keywords (in the advanced search boxes)or index terms on your topic. Try multiple searches

2) Browse your results until you find a dissertation that is relevant to your interests AND has a sizable bibliography.

3) Download and save a copy of the PDF for your records.

NOTE: If you take the time to find a recent dissertation with an extensive bibliography that (correctly) uses the MLA citation style, you should be able to use this as a model to help you correctly cite sources throughout your graduate career

Identifying & Locating a Scholarly Book

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1) Open the PDF and scroll down to the bibliography.

2) Identify what looks to be a significant, scholarly book and jot down the citation information.

3) Go to the UA Libraries' Catalog [using the link] and search for the book. If you find we don't own it, it is checked out, or is only available online, find another title from the (dissertation's) bibliography that the Libraries do have in an available print copy.

4) Once you find one, copy down its Call Number and Location, so you can go pull it off the shelf.

Identifying & Locating a Scholarly Book

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You are now done with the online tutorial  portion of this assignment!

Now its time for you to learn the benefits of "scheduling for serendipitous discovery" by actually pulling books off the shelf and seeing what unexpected sources you can find in and around them.

Email yourself a copy of this tutorial (you'll be able to do that on the next screen) so you can turn in the transcript as part of this assignment.

Good luck in the stacks!


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