Intro. to Africana Studies
Assignment ** Need an Idea? ** Academic Articles ** Books
Your research paper for this class will need to be supported by at least 7 sources, at least 5 of which must be academic. For the other 2, you may use newspapers, magazines, and/or a reputable website (only one source can be a website). Today, we'll focus on how to find books and scholarly articles related to your topic.
You may already know what you want to research, but maybe you're not sure yet or you need to narrow your topic a bit. Here are three ideas for beginning your research in Africana Studies:
Reference books not only provide great background information, but you can use them to refine your topic. Say you're interested in music, but aren' t sure what you might focus on; you can look up "music" in any of these encyclopedias to expand your general knowledge of music in African cultures, then choose one musical style or country of origin to explore.
New Encyclopedia of Africa (DT2 .N48 2008 REF)
Africana (DT14 .A37435 2005 REF)
Africa and the Americas (DT31. A43 2008 REF)
Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (E185 .E54 2006 REF)
Encyclopedia of African-American History (E185 .E545 2006 REF)
Academic Search Premier
This database contains some information about most subject areas; start with a broad search and then examine the results to see if anything interests you. Access Academic Search Premier by clicking on the "Databases" tab on the library homepage.
Africana Studies Research Guide
Our Africana Studies librarian, Stefanie Bluemle, has compiled an Africana Studies Research Guide to help you get started. If you still need an idea or are looking to refine an existing idea, the selected websites at the bottom of the guide may be particularly helpful.
"Peer-reviewed," "scholarly," "refereed," "academic"...these words can be used interchangeably. They mean that a resource has been thoroughly reviewed by scholars and that the information it contains is of high quality. "Academic" sources can include books, journals, critical reviews, analyses, and original research articles.
Research in multidisciplinary subjects such as Africana Studies can be especially challenging because rather than searching an "Africana Studies" database - which we don't have! - you will instead need to think about the other facets of your topic (e.g., music, history, politics, etc.) and conduct your research in databases related to those subject areas.
From the "Databases" drop-down menu on the library homepage, notice the options under "Databases by Subject." Which academic departments might be appropriate for your topics? Read the descriptions of the databases in each section to determine where to start (or try Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, and Political Science Complete as starting points.)
Other subject-specific database suggestions:
Music - RILM Abstracts
Art - Art & Architecture Complete
Politics - Political Science Complete
Education - ERIC
History - America: History & Life or Historical Abstracts
Religion - ATLA Religion Index
**How can you be sure that you have the "right" kind of article?**
If you choose "peer-reviewed" or a similar option when searching in an online database, you can be confident that the results you find are going to be scholarly. But what if you're in a database where it's unclear how to narrow to scholarly results, or the database doesn't let you do that at all?
▪ Check Ulrich's (in Augustana's Databases A-Z). Enter the title of the journal and click "search." If it is peer-reviewed, it will have an icon that resembles a referee's jersey.
If you're still unsure or if you have problems verifying the journal in Ulrich's, feel free to ask a librarian or Dr. Whitt.
**Help! There's no link to the full text!**
1. If there's a full-text link in the database you're in, just click on it!
2. If you don't see a full-text link, go to the library homepage and click the "Journals & Magazines" tab. Enter the journal's title to see if the full text is available somewhere else.
3. If Augustana doesn't own the article you're looking for, click on "Interlibrary Loan" under "Research Tools" on the left side of the homepage. It's free, and you'll usually get the article within 3-5 days.
Use the Tredway Library catalog, ALiCat, to search for books. If you're not finding what you need, repeat your search in I-Share, a catalog of books from the libraries of nearly 80 college & university libraries throughout Illinois. You can request books from any of these other libraries and usually get them within 5 business days. If you leave yourself a few days to receive books from other libraries, you're more likely to find the sources that are most appropriate for your topic.
Hints for using ALiCat & I-Share:
1. The basic search screen will likely be too basic - click on "Advanced Search" to see additional search options that will lead to better results.
2. Stack your keyword search terms to combine them with "and." Example: AND policy
3. If you find a relevant record, click on the title to see more detailed information. Notice the links next to "topics"; each of these is a hyperlink that will take you to other books about that subject.
4. Browse! You may start to notice that several books you've found in ALiCat are located close to each other on the shelves; books are organized by subject, so head up to that section of the stacks and take a look at other books that are nearby on the shelves.
Need help? Ask a librarian!
Created by Anne Earel, Reference Librarian. Updated November 2012.