AFR AM R1B: African American authors

How to use this tab

This course guide is created as a teaching tool and designed to be read as a unit. Doing so will provide the context for selecting the "right" resource and the techniques for manipulating it -- knowledge and skills that will support immediate and future research needs.

The notes in this tab contain suggestions about how to proceed with research based on your assignment. These suggestions build upon, and presume familiarity with, the general concepts addressed in the other tabbed sections of this course guide.

A suggested research trajectory

  1. Review the information in the Resources tab.  Make sure you understand how the identified resources differ in the types of information and/or materials they provide.

  2. Review the suggested resources, below.

  3. Select a resource whose content matches the kind of materials you are seeking to find and whose disciplinary focus maps to your topic (i.e. publications in that field are likely to be writing about it).

    Or... choose a General (interdisciplinary) database.

  4. Search resources to see what's been written about your topic -- or what issues others are writing about in regards to a topic/author/work that might help you refine your focus.

  5. Examine promising results. Remember to note the information you'll need if you end up citing 'em.

Suggested resources


  • find books on your topic
  • find the periodicals you've already identified as having articles on your topic
  • find encyclopedias to get background information

Article databases (by SUBJECT)

  • identify article and essay content on your topic
  • identify current research
  • identify research focused on an aspect of a topic
  • search for publications from a specific discipline
    • literature, African American studies, history, etc.
  • MLA is a recommended database for literary criticism
    • citation database / no full text
    • use UC-eLinks to locate result text
    • tab setup lets you review results for specific types of publications

Article databases (GENERAL)

  • interdisciplinary
  • often have popular sources (magazine & news) as well scholarly
  • Academic Search Complete is one recommended resource
    • popular and scholarly content (good for popular culture topics, magazine/news content in addition to academic journals)
    • some results available online
    • has UC-eLinks feature
    • tab setup lets you review results for specific types of publications
  • Google Scholar is one recommended resource
    • strength is scholarly journal literature
    • Use UC-eLinks to get full text
    • Enable UC-eLinks to display (use Scholar Preferences > Library links)
  • JSTOR is one recommended database
    • scholarly journals
    • full text resource
    • use advanced search mode (to narrow to specific discipline)

Encyclopedias (subject encyclopedias)

  • background on topic | biographical information on practitioner in field
  • Link path  = Library homepage > Electronic Resources > Subject > then review the left sidebar menu to see if there is a link to encyclopedias

    ...Literature > encyclopedias > Literature Resource Center
    • good for brief biography of literary authors
    • Use Person Search (results in tabs - see biographies)

Search tips

  • search tips for library databases (recommended)
    • additional tip, you may wish to limit by language

  • catalog searching:

    • finding materials about a topic...

      • search 2 or 3 terms representing key concepts of your focus
      • there isn't a search that finds everything: try different combinations of terms, synonyms, related terms
      • look at the records of relevant results -- do their subjects suggest other search terms
      • to find literary analysis, try adding the term criticism to your search for materials about an author or literary movement (see example, below)
      • try adding terms for specific types of materials -- encyclopedias, biographies -- to your search, to locate those types of resources (see example, below)

        Sample keyword searches...

        obsessive-compulsive disorder
        compulsive behavior

        france and history and class
        capitalism and material*
        octavia butler and criticism
        kubrick and criticism
        eugene o'neill and biography

    • author search (for a person) - finds books by, interviews with, correspondence...
      [use specified syntax last name, first name]
    • limit by language - use modify search button
    • limit by material type - change default search of Entire Collection
      to seach by type -- Journals/Magazines/Newspapers, Films/Videos...
    • search too broad ? -- use Modify button for limits
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Last Update: June 01, 2011 16:09