(Other People’s) Dissertations: A Great Research Tool

March 11, 2015

Students starting to work on literature reviews for their own dissertations regularly come to me asking for help in finding some other dissertations to read. Looking at other dissertations can help you get a sense of what approaches and topics are “hot” in your field, provide samples of how other scholars applied the methodologies or assessment tools you plan to use, and even point you in the direction of some of the scholarship that you don’t want to miss. (Remember, virtually all of those dissertations and doctoral projects include literature reviews too!)

There are several ways to find dissertations to help in your research. On simple way to look for Alliant dissertation is to search in the library catalog. Enter a search term (a topic, a methodology, even the author’s name) in the Encore search box on the homepage and then use the Facets (or Limiters) on the left-hand side of the results page to narrow down to Format: Thesis. Many of these can be viewed online, others can be requested and sent to your home campus library for checkout.

Another option for Alliant scholarship? Click on Alliant Theses/Dissertations from the library homepage. This allows you to search by committee member, methodology, or even the statistical analyses or assessment tools used. Just like in the above option, many dissertations are available online, and others can be requested and sent to your campus.

Want more? Don’t forget about ProQuest’s Dissertations and Theses database in our list of databases. Here you can find tens of thousands of dissertations and theses, virtually every one published in the United States since 1997 plus many older and some international ones. You can search by keyword just as you would in article databases, or narrow down by institution, subject, and more. For more search tips, check out our guide.

Dissertation writers regularly report back that looking at other dissertations kickstarted their research, or helped when they hit a dead-end. You may have similar luck!

(And of course, once you get going on your own dissertation, check out our Dissertation Clearance guide for formatting and clearance info.)


I-Merit Discussion Groups

March 2, 2015

The I-Merit groups at each campus offer a variety of activities, informative panels, even food fairs! The Sacramento campus will add to this list informal discussion groups.  I-Merit welcomes suggestions for discussion group topics, as well as volunteers to lead these discussion groups. We have a few slated for this semester, but please join us every other Tuesday in room 9 from 1-2 pm, or contact Dr. Hsieh (ahsieh@alliant.edu) with any questions or ideas. Here’s what we have scheduled so far:

WEDNESDAY 3/18 1-2 pm:  Ferguson

WEDNESDAY 4/1 1-2 pm:  ISIS

***WEDNESDAY 4/15 5-7 pm: Panel- Serving Veterans, Law Enforcement, Military, and their families.

WEDNESDAY 4/22 1-2 pm: Follow up discussion about the Panel

WEDNESDAY 4/29 1-2 pm: Social Media & Diversity 

***Also, please join us for a panel discussion featuring working clinicians who serve veterans, law enforcement, military and their families on WEDNESDAY 4/15 from 5-7 pm.  Contact Dr. Hsieh with any questions (ahsieh@alliant.edu).

We hope to see you there and look forward to some lively discussions!


Videos: Alliant’s Moving Images

February 25, 2015

This week’s showing of the Academy Awards got me thinking about Alliant’s extensive video collection. In addition to a multitude of videos on psychology, there is a fine collection of DVDs and VHS tapes on such varied subjects as art, biography, business, education, history, language, life/health and physical sciences, along with some good old-fashioned entertainment and a dash of kid-friendly fare.

From the library’s homepage, you can find video titles in our catalog by going to “Research” and clicking Special Collections. From there, scroll to “Video and DVD Collection by campus” and choose either your home campus or All Locations (most videos can be requested and sent to your home campus).

In keeping with the Academy awards theme, we have a host of Oscar winning films, including: The Aviator (winner of five), Boys don’t Cry (Academy Award Best Actress, Hilary Swank), Brokeback Mountain (winner of three, including Best Director), Crash (Oscar, Best Picture), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon = Wo Hu Zang Long (four Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film), Defending Our Lives (Short Documentary, 1993), The Killing Fields (three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor, Haing S. Ngo), King Gimp (Best Documentary Short, 1999), The King’s Speech (several awards, including Best Picture and Actor, Colin Firth), Music by Prudence (Best Documentary, Short Subjects, 2010), and Trevor (Academy Award winner for Best Live Action Short, 1994).

Other award winning films that didn’t make the Oscar cut include: The Alejandro González Iñárritu directed movie, Amores Perros (BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, 2002); the Peabody Award winning history of the representation of gay men and lesbians in motion pictures, The Celluloid Closet (1996); and the classic multiple point of view, Rashomon (Golden Lion Award, Venice Film Festival, 1951).

For popcorn fun, romance, adventure or guilty pleasure, there are several titles to choose from, including: The Brothers Grimm, The Da Vinci Code, Finding Neverland, House of Flying Daggers, The Hunger Games, The InternationalLike Water for Chocolate, Lost in Translation, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Must Love Dogs, Napoleon Dynamite, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Though if you absolutely, positively need to view a video right now, see our database list of streaming videos. The emphasis of these leans heavily toward psychology.

Finally, if mergers and acquisitions are your thing or if strategic planning really floats your boat, then you’ll need to head on over to Business Source Complete (EBSCO) for the Harvard Business Video Collection. Once you’re in the database look at the top center of the page and click “More” for a pull down menu. Click “Images/Business Videos.” On the new page, under “Limit your results” be sure to limit your search to “Business Videos” (uncheck “Image Quick View Collection”). Type in your search term and you’re on your way to viewing pleasure.


Dissertation clearance: Common mistakes

February 10, 2015

Back in December, Nicole wrote an excellent blog post about the new dissertation process. This past month, I reviewed a total of 24 dissertations and I thought that I’d share a few of the most commonly made mistakes that I’ve caught. I hope that this will help expedite your dissertation clearance process when you finally submit your dissertation!

  1. Page numbers. Be sure that you use Roman numerals (e.g. iii, v, xi, etc.) for things like your dedication page, abstract, and table of contents. Arabic numbers (e.g. 1, 3, 9, etc.) begin on the first page of the first chapter.
  2. Multiple citations in one set of parentheses should be placed in alphabetical order. Here’s an example: (Chow, 2014; Hughes, 2014; Sacks, 2015; Schiff, 2014; Schmidt, 2015)
  3. Tables should be listed within the body of your document. It should be placed right after the paragraph that first mentions the table.
  4. Appendices should be presented in the same order that they are mentioned in the text of the document. If you have Appendices A, B, and C, they all need to be mentioned in the main text of your document in alphabetical order. That is, you must refer to Appendix A before you can mention B and you must refer to Appendix B before you can mention Appendix C.
  5.  Reference list.  Be sure that all of your references are in alphabetical order.

If you need additional help, feel free to contact your campus dissertation clearance librarian:

  • Fresno: Louise Colbert-Mar (lcolbert@alliant.edu)
  • Irvine: Erin Schmidt (eschmidt@alliant.edu)
  • Los Angeles: Tiffany Chow (tchow1@alliant.edu)
  • Sacramento: Nicole Hughes (nhughes@alliant.edu)
  • San Diego: Scott Zimmer (szimmer@alliant.edu)
  • San Francisco: Joe Tally (jtally@alliant.edu)

Happy writing!


Guides: One More Way to Download a Little Knowledge from Your Alliant Librarians

February 4, 2015

Have you ever noticed the User Guides link on the Library homepage, under Research? If you haven’t checked it out, you are missing out on a treasure trove of tips and tricks to make your library experience much richer. Today, I wanted to highlight a handful that can help whether you are just starting research for a quick term paper, or delving deep into your dissertation:

Organizing Your Research: Have you ever wanted a tool that would help you keep track of all the resources you’ve found, grouping them together by topic, and — most importantly — creating APA-style citations that will make your References page a snap? This guide covers EndNote, RefWorks, Mendeley, and Zotero, so you can find the tool(s) that are best for you.

Grants and RFPs offers a slew of ideas for finding grants and requests for proposals online, as well as resources for how to write successful (i.e. funded) proposals.

I Can PsycINFO (and so can you!): A ton of tips on using one of our most popular EBSCO databases, with the added bonus that most of these tips apply to any database search.

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT. You know what those words mean, but do you know how to effectively use them to get your very best database search results?

Measures and Surveys and Scales, Oh My! Chances are good that you may take an assessment course during your time at Alliant, or you may need to find a scale/measure/survey/questionnaire as part of your research. This guide will help you locate the right assessment tool for you, from the Achievement Anxiety Test to the Young Adult Social Support Inventory, from the ABAS-II to the WMS-IV.

Are there other guides you’d like to see that are missing? Let us know!


Welcome back to all! (Plus a little on SGA and IMERIT)

January 26, 2015

The Alliant Library staff would like to welcome back students and faculty to the Spring 2015 semester! We hope everyone had a nice break and is recharged for a new set of classes. With a new start comes new opportunities to get involved; let your voice be heard! Each campus has different clubs and activities for students, here are two that are active at almost every campus:

SGA (Student Government Association):

SGA gives you a say in activity planning and much more at your home campus. Sacramento’s SGA has sponsored movie nights, new student mixers, and even a new play therapy collection in development for the Sacramento Library. Join the discussion to help better your home campus, as well as Alliant International University as a whole!

I-MERIT (Strengthening Multicultural Campus Atmosphere):

I-MERIT, like SGA, has a campus-specific and University-wide presence. Meet with your campus group to discuss activities like those going on at the Sacramento campus: Multicultural Pot-Luck and Food Fair, Current Events discussion groups, Focused panel discussions featuring experts on a variety of topics: serving LGBTQIA populations, Veterans and families, Law Enforcement and families, Nontraditional relationship family structure, and much more!

Start the Spring semester by having a say and bettering your university experience! We hope to see you there.


Database Dilemma

January 23, 2015

Ever notice the number of databases Alliant Library has access to? We have a lot. More than 60, in fact. Each contains an inviting array of information just waiting for eager exploration. Some databases are eclectic, moving across a host of disciplines, while others draw on a specific area of study, such as business, psychology, education and law (but even those have applications beyond their fields). Many people have their favorites and return to them over and over again. Sometimes a single database takes preference above all others, until it comes to a point where other information sources are simply ignored or forgotten about. There are limits to the amount of information contained in one database though. So problems arise when expectations are focused on a single source as a one-stop-shop for research gathering.

Here’s a helpful analogy: I like to think of databases as if they’re rooms in a house. Sometimes one room has exactly what you need in it. But not always. And keep in mind that rooms have walls. There can be a lot of useful stuff inside those walls, but it’s rare that one room contains everything you need, so you’re walled off from getting to some things. Say you’re in a room looking for a box of cereal. You open the sock drawer, peek under the bed, dig through the closest. No luck! It’s exasperating, frustrating and confounding, because in the past you’ve triumphed while searching inside the bedroom. It might not even occur to you that where you’re looking is a wholly inadequate place to find that elusive box of cereal. Well, it’s time to start thinking of other options. Now would be a good time to open the door and go into another room, perhaps the kitchen.

Just in case you find yourself walled off and looking for information in all the wrong places, here are some search options and strategies:

1. For general information/research gathering–

Search across several databases. For EBSCO databases, you have the option of searching across more than 30, so rather than just going directly to one (say PsycINFO), go to the “Databases” page and scroll through the list to “E” and click EBSCOhost Research Databases. This takes you to a page with a list of EBSCO databases with little boxes next each that you can click and check. After choosing what databases you want to use, scroll down and click “Continue.” You’re on your way.

ProQuest also offers the option of searching across several databases at once.  From the database list (on the “Databases” page), scroll to “P” and click ProQuest Databases. This takes you to the ProQuest search page. No need to choose databases, it automatically defaults to searching across several (look in the upper left corner and you’ll see how many. There’s even an arrow to click to see which ones are offered).

2. For a known citation, follow these steps:

A. If the citation has a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), perform a quick search using the DOI Finder. It’s located on the “Databases” page, right side, about halfway down. Click Find article by DOI , then copy and paste the DOI into the search box. Click “Submit.”

B. If there isn’t a DOI, copy and paste the JOURNAL title into the catalog search box on the library’s homepage (Encore is the default, but “Classic Catalog” works just as well). Click the “Search” button on the right side of the box. If we have electronic access, then the title will appear, with one or more databases listed below it to choose from. Click and go.

C. Still can’t find it? There are other options, but at this point, you might want to call in a professional and contact a librarian for some further guidance: http://alliant.libguides.com/askalibrarian

Finally some helpful hints regarding those pesky databases that can’t be searched through EBSCO or ProQuest:

  1. Science Direct (Elsevier) has a huge variety of electronic books and journals that include business, psychology and education. So don’t let the name deter you from looking if you’re not into biology, chemistry or physics.
  2. Statista has an abundance of statistics and data sets.
  3. Looking for the DSM V? You need to take a trip over to PsychiatryOnline to find it.
  4. Need streaming videos? From the “Databases” page, top far right (above “A”), click Videos.

Happy searching.




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