Choosing a topic
When choosing a topic for your research paper, think about the following:
- Unless your instructor assigns a topic, try to select a topic that interests you.
- Make sure your topic is not too broad, or too narrow. You will find too much information when searching for a broad topic; and not enough information when searching for a narrow topic.
- If you already have a general topic, try searching the library's catalog or the library's databases for ideas on how to narrow that topic down.
- Visit the library's Reference Desk and request to view the following book: 10,000 ideas for term papers, projects, reports and speeches: Intriguing, original research topics for every student's need.
- For current events and issues in the news, try searching the library's database: CQ Researcher.
- For debatable or controversial issues, ask one of the librarians about the Opposing Viewpoints Series, the Taking Sides Series, Issues in Focus Series and/or the Current Controversies Series.
- Visit the Social Issues Research Guide. There you will find a list of current social issues to choose from.
Books will provide an excellent starting point for your research in the field of Physical Geography. Reference books often give you background information and a general overview on your topic so that you can proceed with greater understanding to a more detailed treatment of your subject in other books and periodicals. Reference books may include specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, almanacs, atlases and/or statistical reports. The librarian at the Reference Desk can help in locating an appropriate source. Listed below are the titles and call numbers of some of the Physical Geography books in the library's reference collection. The reference collection is located on the main level of the library. Books with a location of Reference cannot be checked out of the library. The Circulating Collection is on the second floor of the library. Books with a location of Circulating may be checked out.
To search the Catalog for a book, click on it's callnumber below.
|Atlas of North America. Oxford.||Atlas||G1105.A8 2005|
|Atlas of the Middle East. National Geographic.||Reference||G2205.N34 2008|
|Hidden Depths : Atlas of the Oceans. Collins.||Reference||G2800.H53 2007|
|Historical Atlas of the United States. National Geographic.||Atlas||G1201.S1 F5 2004|
|Historical Maps on File, 2 vols. Martin Greenwald.||Reference||G1030 .M37 2001|
|National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World||Atlas||G1021.N392 2006|
|Oxford Atlas of the World||Atlas||G1021.A7545 2006|
|Rand McNally Premier World Atlas||Atlas||G1021.R45 2003|
|Student Atlas of World Geography. McGraw Hill.||Reference||G1021.A48 2003|
|The Atlas of Global Change. Macmillan.||Atlas||GE149.G4813 1998|
|The Atlas of the Living World. Houghton Mifflin.||Reference||G1046.C1 A7 1989|
|The Cartographic Satellite Atlas of the World. Warwick.||Reference||G1046.A4 W6 1997|
|The Times Atlas of the World : Tenth Comprehensive Edition. New ...||Atlas||G1021.N57 1999|
|The World Book Atlas||Atlas||G1021.W6735 2004|
|A Dictionary of Ecology. Oxford.||Reference||QH540.4 .C66 2010|
|Glossary of Geology. American Geological Institute.||Reference||QE5.B38 1987|
|Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary||Reference||G103.5.W42 1997|
|The Facts on File Dictionary of Ecology and the Environment||Reference||QH540.4.F35 2004|
|The Facts on File Dictionary of Environmental Science, 2 vols.||Reference||TD9. W95 2001|
|The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History||Reference||QH13.O9 1985|
|Encyclopedia of Earth Science. Facts on File.||Reference||QE5.K85 2005|
|Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. Oryx.||Reference||GE10.M66 2000|
|Encyclopedia of Environmental Studies. Facts on File.||Reference||TD9. A84 2001|
|Encyclopedia of Global Change : Environmental Change and Human S...||Reference||GE149.E47 2002|
|Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change, 3 vols. Sage.||Reference||QC981.8.G56 E47 2008|
|Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones. Checkmark.||Reference||QC944.L66 2008|
|Encyclopedia of Marine Sciences. Springer.||Reference||GC9 .E56 1998|
|Encyclopedia of Rainforests, Oryx.||Reference||QH86.J85 2001|
|Encyclopedia of Volcanoes. Academic.||Reference||QE522.E53 2000|
|Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, 2 vols. Facts on File.||Reference||QC854.A45 2007|
|Environmental Encyclopedia, 2 vols. Gale.||Reference||GE10.E38 2003|
|The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Facts on File.||Reference||QE521R58 1994|
|The Environment A-Z. CQ Press.||Reference||GE10.H67 2001|
|Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, 3 vols. Gale.||Reference||G63.W67 2001|
|Earth Science and the Environment. Thomson Brooks/Cole.||Circulating||QE33.T45 2006|
|Environmental Geology. McGraw-Hill.||Circulating||QE38.M66 2007|
|Environmental Problem Solving : A How-to Guide. University of V...||Reference||GE300.H83 2007|
|Explorers and Discoverers of the World. Gale.||Circulating||G200.E88|
|Global Environment Outlook : Environment for Development, GEO 4||Reference||GE170.G5635 2007|
|Global Warming. Facts on File.||Reference||QC981.8.G56 L66 2004|
|Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water, 2 vols. Wiley Interscie...||Reference||QC880.H34 2003|
|Manual of Mineral Science. Wiley.||Circulating||QE372.2.K54 2008|
|Maps on file, 2 vols (regularly updated). Facts on File.||Reference||G1046.A1M16 1985|
|Medical Geography. Guilford.||Reference||RA792.M42 2000|
|Minerals of the World. Sterling.||Circulating||QE366.8 .S3813 1992|
|Nicknames of Places : Origins and Meanings. McFarland.||Reference||G105.R65 2006|
|Oxford Companion to the Earth||Reference||QE5.O94 2000|
|Placenames of the World : Origins and Meanings. McFarland.||Reference||G105.R66 1997|
|Rivers of North America. Elservier||Reference||QH102.R58 2005|
|The Magic of Minerals. Springer.||Circulating||QE363.2 .M4313 1985|
|The Weather Almanac. Gale.||Reference||QC983.R83|
The library catalog is used to locate books both at RVCC, as well as from other libraries in the Somerset County Library System. Books will provide in-depth information not found in reference sources.
- Start with a Keyword search. Once you find one or two books about your topic, check the book's record to see what Subjects are being used. Once you find the appropriate Subject Heading, repeat your search using those headings. Generally, the results from a Subject search will always be more accurate than the results from a Keyword search.
- If you know the title of the book you are looking for, do a Title search.
- If you are looking for a book with a specific author, do an Author search (last name first).
Suggested Subject Headings for Physical Geography:
Click a subject heading below to use it as the search term for a Subject Search in the catalog.
- Earth science
- Environmental sciences
- Physical geography
Consult with the reference librarian to find the term best suited to your needs.
Browse the Collection:
Most of the books can be found in the following areas:
- G1-922 -- Geography (General)
- G1000-3122 -- Atlases
- G3180-9980 -- Maps
- GA -- Mathematical geography. Cartography
- GB -- Physical geography
- GC -- Oceanography
- GE -- Environmental Sciences
- GF -- Human ecology. Anthropogeography
- QC851-999 -- Meteorology. Climatology
- QE -- Geology
- QH -- Natural History. Biology
- TD -- Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
All of the library's circulating books are located on the upper level of the library.
For additional library catalogs, including libraries in Hunterdon and Middlesex counties, consult the Additional Library Catalogs page. If you find a book in one of these catalogs that the library does not own, request the book using the library's Interlibrary Loan Service.
Research Databases - Finding Articles
The Evelyn S. Field Library has access to thousands of periodicals. (Periodicals can be magazines, scholarly journals, or newspapers.) Some periodicals are in the library's print (or hard copy) collection. However, the majority of periodicals are available in the Research Databases. These databases provide access to articles. This information is generally more current than material found in books.
Search for periodical articles on Physical Geography using the databases listed below. They can be accessed from the Library Database Page. (If you are using these databases from an off-campus location, you will be asked to identify yourself by logging in with your Username and Password. This is the same login you use on campus. The Research Databases are available only to registered RVCC students.)
- Access Science
The core of this database is a continually updated online version of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. It is a good place to start a science research project. The browse function should help if you are having trouble deciding on a topic. It also includes a science dictionary.
- CQ Researcher
The CQ Researcher explores a single issue in depth each week. The issues are chosen based on current news. This database is easy to check. If there is a relevant report, it's a great way to jump start your research. There are 44 reports each year including four expanded reports. Every 12,000-word report features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of every issue. Numerous charts, graphs and sidebar articles -- plus a pro/con feature, a chronology, bibliographies and a list of contacts.
- Credo Reference
A full-text online reference service that includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, quotations, and many other sources of factual information. Use Credo to get background information on a research topic or become familiar with a new subject. Subjects covered include art, business, food and beverage, geography, history, language, law, literature, medicine, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, science, social sciences, and technology.
- Facts on File
Provides general information on academic and career-related collections. This is an excellent source of graphics and encyclopedia length articles on general topics. Because it does not have a single interface, however, finding information may take some digging.
GreenFILE indexes scholarly and general interest titles, as well as government documents and reports. This resource offers a unique perspective on the positive and negative ways humans affect the environment. Drawing on the connection between the environment and disciplines such as agriculture, education, law, health and technology, GreenFILE serves as an informative resource for anyone concerned about the issues facing our planet.
Our current subscription includes the "Social & Behavioral Sciences" and the "Health & Life Sciences." Be sure to select "group-wide login.
- Wiley Library Online
This database brings together a collection of journals from Wiley InterScience. Disciplines covered include the physical sciences, education, technology, social sciences and psychology, mathematics and statistics.
- World Atlas
The World Atlas is part of the Britannica Online subscription. It provides political and physical maps. It includes brief information about each country, such as population, size in sq miles and sq km, head of state and more.
After finding an article on your research topic, the database will either provide a citation and summary of the article, or it will provide the full-text (the complete article). If you are only given a citation and summary of the article, you can check the Periodical Locator to determine if the periodical you are looking for is available in another database. (The Periodical Locator is an alphabetical list of all the journals the library has access to. Feel free to talk with a librarian for assistance.) If the article is not available in any of the library's research databases, request the article using the library's Interlibrary Loan Service.
If, for your assignment, you are required to have sources from scholarly journals, use the Identifying Scholarly Articles guide to help you determine if your source is a magazine article or a scholarly article.
- American Geographical Society
- American Geological Institute
- Association of American Geographers
- Ecological Society of America
- University Consortium for Geographic Information Science
- American Field Guide
Source: PBS -- Featured video clips on earth science and ecology topics.
- Columbia Gazetteer of North America
Source: Bartleby.com -- Encyclopedia of geographic names and features.
- David Rumsey Map Collection
Source: Cartography Associates -- Historical maps of the Americas and other parts of the world from the 18th and 19th Centuries.
- Encyclopedia of Earth
Source: Environmental Information Coalition / National Council for Science and the Environment -- Encyclopedia entries covering all aspects of geography, ecology, environmental sciences. Articles are written by scholars for the average person.
- Environmental Protection Agency
Source: Environmental Protection Agency -- Leading the national environmental science efforts.
Source: USA.gov -- Provides access to federal, state, local and thematic maps and geographic data.
- Global Change Master Directory
Source: NASA -- Serves as portal for discovery, access, and use of earth and atmospheric science data.
- Google Earth
Source: Google -- Satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. Free downloadable version.
- Historical Country Names
Source: Nations Online -- Lists of historical/former names of countries (by continent).
- Library of Congress – Geography and Map Reading Room
Source: Library of Congress -- The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress provides cartographic and geographic information for all parts of the world to the Congress.
- National Climate Data Center
Source: U.S. Dept of Commerce -- Archives of climate data information.
- National Geographic
Source: National Geographic -- Website of the National Geographic magazine "Supporting Exploration, Education, and Conservation Since 1888."
- National Highway System
Source: US Dept. of Transportation -- PDF maps of the National Highway System (national and state).
- National Weather Service
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- Weather conditions, forecasts, past weather.
- New Jersey Geologic Survey
Source: NJDEP -- Geological survey data and maps for NJ.
Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -- Online magazine explores the oceans.
Source: Texas A&M University -- Contains images and topical information about many aspects of oceanography. Also includes real-time data, “Ask Dr. Bob,” two text books and teacher/student resources.
- Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
Source: University of Texas -- Collection of various maps of interest (ecological, economical, historical, etc.) and links to additional sites.
- United Nations Cartographic Section
Source: United Nations -- Provides country profile, thematic and mission maps.
Source: US Geological Survey -- Study of land, natural resources and hazards.
- World Fact Book
Source: CIA -- Country information including geographic, demographic, economic
- Call or visit the Reference Desk to speak to one of the librarians. The Reference Desk is located on the main floor of the library. The phone number is 908-526-1200 x8350.
- Email your question to one of the librarians using the Ask-A-Librarian Service.
- For further information about this guide, please contact Robert Egan
Last Updated - 02 April 2009