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Philosophy: 82-321: Causation, Law, and Social Policy: Start

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Information Sources

This a select list of core online encyclopedias and dictionaries.  You can locate more in our library catalog using the subject "philosophy" and the subject "encyclopedia", or "handbook", or dictionary.

You may find our online Reference Shelf worth browsing as well, particularly tabs such as Almanacs, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Statistical Resources.


The video provides some tips for choosing good search terms.

Here are additional tips:

  • If you identify a relevant source, circle terms they use.
  • Circle words in the abstract and conclusion of articles you find
  • Look for subject headings and limiters such as source type, date, etc.
  • Look for a thesaurus tool (sometimes called dictionary or index) to learn how a database organizes its information
  • Look for a concept map tool


Types of Mind Maps

What are mind maps?  There are many types of mind maps but there are all used to solve a problem.  When writing a research paper, each task in the process can branch into it's own "map" [see the illustration to the left].
Starting out with a mind map can help clarify gaps of information and streamline the search process.
Good mind maps are only as good as the words/categories of which they are made, so be sure to update these categories as you discover words or categories to add or delete).
Another use for mind mapping is that it documents your research process so you are able to avoid repeating unsuccessful strategies.
How do you create mind maps?
Mind maps are as easy to create as finding a piece of paper and a pen.  You can write down words and draw relationships.  There are also tools to help you create them.  There are also databases that come equipped with visualization tools (concept maps).  Tip: using post it notes can be a great way to "brain storms" or "mind map" for a topic.
5 most popular tools for mind mapping (in alphabetical order):
  1. Bluemind - is powerful, portable and free (need we say more)?  That said, it only has a 1MB download, so it doesn't offer tons of features <i.e. simple> BUT it's a great starting tool.
  2. Coggle [A Google Chrome extension] - simple mind mapping at its best.  You can also use it in the browser instead of installing it on Chrome. It comes in three packages: Free, Awesome, and Organization.  The free version should be enough to get you started, but you will need to sign up.
  3. Mindomo - A great collaborative tool that works in various platforms.  Allows you to track changes, use images and audio, and has many templates to get you started.
  4. MindMapple - For Windows or iOS, a desktop application that has many powerful features to handle large projects and mindmaps can be collated into one document.  You can track topics with priority and schedule too.  Two versions: free and pro.
  5. NovaMind - try it on Windows desktop, Windows 8iPad, Mac OS X, or Android, and online as NovaMind Cloud. It is a commercial software but has a capable free version. 
CMU Libraries Databases with concept mapping features:

Below are a select list of databases to get you started.  Please consult one of the subject representatives or relevant research guides for additional selections.

The following research guide was developed to assist you with doing your systematic review.  

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