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Library Award for Undergraduate Research

2013 Winning Essay by Holly Buckman


When I was accepted into the Fall 2012 Cambridge study abroad program, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to do international research. I started researching English life and culture to acquire an idea of what my temporary home would be like when I stumbled upon a book on English Constables, the police force in the United Kingdom. Since I have a minor in criminal justice and a major in psychology, I wanted to look at psychological differences between law enforcement officers in the United States and the United Kingdom. After talking with Professor Zelechoski, who has done previous research with police officer populations, we decided that for my class I would write a 20 page literature review on an international comparison of stress in law enforcement.

The summer before I went abroad, I began gathering research on stress experienced by law enforcement officers in the United States. First I started with an advanced search of the library catalog for books on policing using various search terms like “police OR law enforcement”, “police organizations” and “police stress”. These searches provided me with a broad knowledge of how law enforcement agencies in the United States are organized and how they function. From this information I was able to create an outline of what I wanted to include in my paper. Although this outline was greatly revised at the end of my information gathering, it was a crucial step in narrowing my search to specific topics. I then furthered my search to online databases for psychology and sociology/criminology, the most helpful being: PsycINFO and ProQuest Sociology. With these searches I always made sure to look for scholarly resources only, and if my searches came up fruitless, I would use the thesaurus function on these databases to find better key terms to use. While some of these resources that I did find were available online, many of them had to be requested through the interlibrary loan office. Whenever possible, I requested articles or books electronically or scanned them onto my computer, since it would not be possible for me to take any hardcopies of these resources because of luggage restrictions. Because of my previous experience in compiling research I was able to proficiently utilize the various tools that the CCLIR had to offer.

While the research process in the United States was fairly straightforward, compiling research in the United Kingdom required me to overcome some hurdles. Since I was so close to Cambridge University I was hoping that they would let me use their library. However, after applying for a visiting student library card they turned down my application since I was not a graduate student. Luckily for me, I knew some students at Anglia-Ruskin University who took me to their library and I had access to the Cambridgeshire Public Library as well. Between these two libraries I was able to find some scholarly books about the culture in the United Kingdom as well as the organization of their law enforcement agencies. Even while abroad, I was still able to utilize all of the online resources that the CCLIR has to offer. I used many of the same search terms but added “United Kingdom” in the next search box as either a key word or author affiliation search. Even though researching the stress experienced by United Kingdom law enforcement officers was more difficult than researching the stress experienced by United States law enforcement officers, I was still able to utilize the resources offered by the CCLIR and the local university and public library in the United Kingdom. 

Without the abundant tools and resources that the library has to offer, I would not have been able to compile enough information to write what turned into a 30 page paper. Even though I was not able to enter the Cambridge University Library which made research compilation in the United Kingdom more difficult, I was still able to utilize resources offered by other libraries in Cambridge as well as the online resources offered by Valparaiso University. After completing this project I now feel more confident in compiling research for my senior thesis.

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