Resources by Subject Basic Guide to Research for Anthropology

A. Locating Background Information

You might browse some of our reference sourcesfor assistance in selecting and defining your topic. These sources can also provide useful background information on your topic to give you a better understanding of the various aspects of your topic. We have numerous subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other resources available in print and online.

Check the following call number areas in the Reference Collection for background information from sources such as subject encyclopedias:

GN is Anthropology

Only a small number of potentially useful items will be located in GN

D,E, F are History/Area Studies - look here for specific countries, states, localities, etc.

GR is Folklore; GT is Manners and Customs

HQ is Women, Family and Marriage

BF is Psychology

R is Health and Medicine

For a more detailed breakdown of call number areas, see the Library of Congress classification schedule.

To locate items, browse the Reference shelves or look in MaconCat.Try a broad subject search such as "Anthropology" or "Ethnology" and look for subheadings such as "encyclopedias" or "dictionaries."

Additionally, you can look at several of our anthropology, sociology or other periodical publications for help in developing your topic .

B. Locating Periodical Articles

  1. Determine whether you should use scholarly materials whether you need primary sources.
    How do you tell the difference between a scholarly journal from a popular one?
    How do you tell the difference between a primary source and a secondary source?
  2. Formulate a search strategy.
    Identify the important concepts of your search and choose the keywords that describe these concepts.
    Determine whether there are synonyms, related terms, or other variations of the keywords that should be included. Reference sources can help with this.
    Determine which search features may apply, i.e., truncation, Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), etc.
  3. Use indexes and databases to locate scholarly journal and popular magazine articles.
    Go to the Library's home page and click on Research By Subject and choose Sociology or Anthropology from the subject list, or choose the database from the alphabetical list. 

    Academic Search Complete 

    SocINDEX with Full Text
    • Available through EBSCO.
    • Indexes periodical articles, books, book chapters, dissertations and conference papers.
    • Coverage 1908-present.
    1. Type your search in the search box.
    2. The truncation symbol is the asterisk * and will give all endings to these words. 
    3. There is a lot of full-text in this index. Check the library catalog for materials. The majority of materials will be scholarly, although a small number may not be.

    Anthropological Index Online 1950s-present, no complex searching.

    OmniFile Full Text Mega (some full text; most 1994 to present, with some 1982 to present)

    C. Use the World Wide Web to get government documents, reports, opinions, and other publications on your topic.

    Use the Library's Find Resources by Subject links to be directed to quality web directories and reference sources. Some of the helpful pages are:

    Anthropology, Countries, Sociology, and Women's Studies

    D. Critically evaluate the materials

    Not all information is good, valid information. Evaluation means that you need to look carefully at your information sources to determine whether the source is reliable and appropriate for your information need. You should always evaluate any information source you use. The seven key criteria for evaluating your sources are:

    Authority, Currency, Accuracy, Scope, Objectivity, Documentation, and Presentation

    See the Evaluating Sources page for more!

    E. Cite your resources properly

    Always use the style preferred by your professor or suggested by the major professional association or society in the field of study. The American Sociological Association uses the ASA Style Guide (REF DESK HM73 .A54 1997).

    As you write other papers, be aware that the four major citation styles are APA, Chicago, and MLA. Copies of the guides for each style may be found at the Reference Desk.

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