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GEG 242: Research Methods in Geography: Tracking Down Sources


Finding full copies of sources has become one of the biggest hurdles in conducting research, especially if you are looking for articles. With the internet, it's easy to find if a source exists, but often you can only access sources through a library.  The systems involved are complicated and don't always communicate well with each other. Plus you often end up on publishers' websites, where they want you to pay for an article.

  • Never pay for an article. The Library can almost always track down what you need FOR FREE.

There are multiple ways to get to article and book citations, plus another hundred ways to access the hard copies, not to mention a million things that can trip researchers up along the way.  Use the information on this page to track down full copies of materials. BUT please ask for help if you hit a roadblock - this is one of the most common issues in research today and the reference librarians are experts in helping you overcome these obstacles.

Decoding Citations

In many cases, before you can track down full copies of materials, you need to know what kind of source you have.  Use this checklist if you are working off a bibliography or some other list of sources. Here are some of the most common citations, including identifying indicators (note that citations will look different in various citation styles):

  • Journal article - Usually contains the title of an article in quotations and then the title of a journal in italics. Look for volume and issue numbers.
  • Book - Almost always contains a place of publication, so look for a city. The book title is usually italicized or underlined.
  • Book chapter - Also contains a city of publication. Title of chapter is usually in quotations and title of book is italicized. Look for editors (usually abbreviated ed or eds.)

For examples of how citations look in various citation styles, visit our Cite Your Sources guide. Once you've decoded your citation, use the boxes below to track down hard copies.

Tracking Down Book Citations

There are many ways to find books, also depending on where you're starting.

If you have a book citation, like from a bibliography:

  • Search the Gustavus library catalog to see if we have it here or at another library.
  • Request books we don't have via Interlibrary Loan by setting the search option on the left hand side to Libraries Worldwide. Once you find a book you like, click on the title & look for the option to request it from another library. NOTE: You won't be able to borrow ebooks from other libraries - this is a restriction set by ebook publishers. Check to see if there's a print copy instead to borrow.
  • You can also browse Google Books to see if part or all of your book has been digitized

Tracking Down Sources

Example: Questions to ask as you track down the sources below:

  1. What type of source  is it (book, article, other)?
  2. Is it available at Gustavus (in print or online)? If so, where/how would you find it in our collection?
  3. If it's not available at Gustavus, how would go you about getting a copy?
Citation #1
Vallée, J., Shareck, M., Kestens, Y., & Frohlich, L. L. (2022). Everyday Geography and Service Accessibility: The Contours of Disadvantage in Relation to Mental Health. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 112(4), 931–947. 

Citation #2
Trdina, A., and Dejan Jontes. 2022. Mobility as a distinctive practice: Van life lifestyle and personal media. In Border Crossings and Mobilities on Screen, ed. R. Trandafoiu, 185-95. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Citation #3
Moran, D., Turner, J., & Schliehe, A. K. (2018). Conceptualizing the carceral in carceral geography. Progress in Human Geography, 42(5), 666–686.


Tracking Down Journal Articles

Here are some of the main ways to access journal articles, depending on your starting point.

If you have a journal citation, like from a bibliography:

  • Click the Do We Have This Journal link on the library's homepage.
  • Type the title of the journal into the search box.
  • The search will direct you to the source if we have it in print or online.
    •   You will either be given a link to be taken into a database that has the full text and/or you will be told we have it in print (lower level).
  • If we do not have the journal, sign in to My Library Account on the library's homepage.  Log in with your Gustavus user name & password. Click your name in the upper right hand corner, then click "Requests." From here you can create a new request (click on the blue "Create Request" box. 

If you are searching for articles through a database or want to browse articles in print:

  • Google Scholar -  If you search Google Scholar ( from on campus, you'll see a "find it at Gustavus" link that will take you to the full text of the article (or tell you if we have it in print).  If you end up on a publisher's website & they are asking you to pay for access, stop!  Never pay for an article.  Chances are, we can get it for you from another library.  
  • Requesting Articles Through a Database - Look for the FindIt! button, which will search to see if we have it full text in another database or in print downstairs.  If we don't have the article, you'll see the option to request it from another library.
  • Print Articles in the Basement - We have a collection of articles in print in the lower level.  Sometimes the FindIt! button or the Journals List will tell you that your article is available in print. These are on the lower level of the library and are alphabetized by title of journal. Use the year and/or volume number in your citation to retrieve your article.
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