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LSFY103: Africa: Which Way Forward?

The Assignment: Identify a challenge that is currently being faced by a country or community in Africa. Follow that challenge as it is represented in African and international news media throughout this term. In the media assignment for this class, you will address how the topic has been covered in the news. In the inquiry paper you will propose a solution to the problem based on what you have learned from outside research.

Choosing a Topic - Media Assignment - Inquiry Paper - Citing Sources - Questions?

Choosing a Topic

Your topic for this paper needs to be current, as you'll be following it in the news this term. It should important and relevant enough for you to find sufficient information but focused enough so you can analyze it properly and won't be overwhelmed.

Internet resources may be the best way to identify topics currently in the news. Two sites I recommend:

  • Africa South of the Sahara: Breaking News on Africa - Africa South of the Sahara is a website sponsored by Stanford University that identifies and links high-quality Web resources on Africa. This particular page collects links to the latest news stories.
  • New York Times: Africa - This page links all the NYT's most recent stories on Africa. If you scroll down a bit, you'll find a section called "Recent Features on Africa" that highlights particularly important stories published in recent weeks and months.

Once you have a topic idea, start searching it in the library news databases listed below, under "Media Assignment." This will give you a much more efficient look at news coverage and will tell you whether the story was covered widely enough to be a good topic for this class. (It will also help you determine if your original topic is too broad and needs to be narrowed down.)

As you begin reading stories on the topic, you may find you need background in order for current developments to make sense. You can find background on your topic in these encyclopedias, both of which are in the reference collection on the library's 2nd floor:

  • New Encyclopedia of Africa - Reference collection, 2nd floor - DT2 .N48 2008
  • Encyclopedia of African History - Reference collection, 2nd floor - DT20 .E53 2005

Media Assignment

LexisNexis Academic (Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)
LexisNexis is a huge database of newspapers and other news stories from across the U.S. and the entire world. It is updated daily and gives you the advantage of being able to search many newspapers for your topic at once. At some point as you use LN, you will need to limit your search to African newspapers only. Here is how to do that:

  1. Open LexisNexis. Where it says "Source Directory: Find or Browse" at the very top of the page, click "Browse."
  2. Open the drop-down menu that says "Country," and select the relevant African country. You can also choose "Africa" to get papers from the whole continent.
  3. Click the folder labeled "News."
  4. Click the folder labeled "Newspapers." (You can also go back later to get different types of news publications.)
  5. Select the papers you want to search.
  6. Click "Ok - Continue" and conduct your search.

Newspaper Source (Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)
This database focuses on U.S. and major international (but not African) papers. It's smaller than LexisNexis but a good place to go if you want a manageable number of sources for the non-African part of your news research.

Africa South of the Sahara: African Newspapers
This is a country-by-country directory of African newspapers. Click the name of the country you are researching to find a list of newspapers with links to their websites. Africa South of the Sahara is a free Web resource.

ABYZ News Links: Africa
ABYZ works much like Africa South of the Sahara, but it covers internet, broadcast, and magazine news as well as newspapers. ABYZ also gives you the language of each news source. ABYZ is a free Web resource.

Inquiry Paper

- For the inquiry paper you will need reliable, scholarly sources to help you propose a solution to the problem. You will find these scholarly sources using a different set of resources than those you used for the media assignment.

ALiCat and I-Share
ALiCat searches books that Augustana owns; I-Share searches books across the state of Illinois. You will more than likely need a book from I-Share for this project. If you have never ordered from I-Share and need help getting started, talk to a librarian!

Historical Abstracts (Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)
This is the library's main article database for history outside the U.S. and Canada. It's easy to use, but here is one tip: pay attention to the "historical period" listed for each article to ensure the article is analyzing a contemporary topic. You can also specify historical period on the main search page.

JSTOR (Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)
JSTOR is a full-text database that covers a variety of subject areas. Go to Advanced Search, then a) limit to "Articles" and b) choose the most relevant subject areas from the list before you search.

Academic Search Complete
If Historical Abstracts and JSTOR are not sufficient, Academic Search Complete is a good fall-back for this project. It covers a broad variety of subjects, which means it may be useful no matter what topic you choose.

**Help! My article isn't available in full-text!**

An article that is not full-text in one database may be available in a different one, or in print. Follow these steps to obtain a copy of the article:

  1. On the library website, click "Journals and Magazines." Search the title of the journal (which may be labeled as the "Source" in Historical Abstracts and Academic Search Premier) in which the article you want was published. The results will tell you whether Augustana has access to the publication, what date range we have, and what format so you can obtain your article.

    If you see here that Augustana does not have access to the journal and/or the date of the journal that you need, go to step 2.

  2. On the library website, click "Interlibrary Loan." Login (or create an account if you don't yet have one), choose "Article" from the menu, and fill out the form. You can also use your interlibrary loan account to order book chapters or entire books if they are not available through I-Share.

    In some of the library's databases, including Historical Abstracts and Academic Search Premier, there is a direct link to ILL within the article record.

Citing Sources

Most LSFY classes use MLA style for citations. Online guides to MLA and other common citation styles are available here:

Libarary website --> Citing Sources (under "Research Tools")


You are welcome to contact me at with any questions about your research for this class. You can also find me at the research help desk on the second floor of the library off and on during the week.

Or, talk to any librarian on duty at the research help desk: in-person, or via phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the red "Ask an Augie Librarian" box on every page of the library website.

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated March 2014.