Information Resources for History 2721/2731
Prepared by Elizabeth Millar, R.P. Bell Library
firstname.lastname@example.org | Reference Office, Bell Library, Room M11 | 364-2572
From the Mount Allison Libraries and Archives web site (www.mta.ca/library) click on “Mt.A Library Catalogue” in the “Quick Links” section on the right. If you are on campus, click ALL USERS; if you are off campus click “Mount Allison Users.”
When you know exactly what you are searching for, such as the specific title or author of a book or journal use Exact Search.
Example: The rise of India : its transformation from poverty to prosperity
Search: rise of India (click “Title begins…”)
When you are exploring a topic and looking for a variety of resources, use a Keyword Search.
Example: India’s economic prospects in the twenty-first century
Search: India AND econom$ (keyword anywhere)
The $ is a truncation symbol that permits you to search for variations of a term all at once. The example above shows “econom$” – this means the database will search for all words that begin with “econom” such as economy, economical, and economics.
Other useful search symbols are the double quotation marks which you should use to search for a specific phrase, such as “foreign relations.” This means the database will search for “foreign relations” in that exact order, with no words in between.
Think of synonyms and terms which are related to your topic and search for them as well. It is possible that the term you are using isn’t the same as what the database has selected to describe the topic. It doesn’t necessarily mean your term is wrong, it’s just different.
Example (synonyms): Asia, the Orient, the East
Example (related terms): continents, world regions, China, India
To limit a search, use the Booloean operator AND to combine search terms; limit the search to “keyword in title” or other field; or enter the search in the Advanced Keyword Search fields and limit by language, type of resource, location of resource, or publication year.
Use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LC Subjects) to refine your search. They are listed in the “Full Record” screen of each item and link to other resources which are about that topic.
Index and Database Searches
From the Libraries and Archives web site, click on “Indexes and Databases” to search for journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.
If you know which index or database you want to search, click its first letter, and then click either “On-campus” or “Off-campus” to access it. If you are working off-campus, you will be prompted for your email ID and password to confirm that you are a Mount Allison student.
If you don’t know which index or database you should search, select the subject area from the list to access relevant resources. JSTOR, Project Muse, and ProQuest are the recommended databases for HIST 2700.
For most indexes and databases the truncation symbol (the one that allows you to search variant endings of a word) is the asterisk * .
Use the Advanced Search features to make your search more specific.
Whenever you have a choice between using an .html document, often shown as “Full-Text,” and a .pdf document use the .pdf document. Some databases show where page breaks are in their .html documents, but most do not. .pdf documents are generally images of the original article, and they clearly show the page numbers, making them much easier to cite properly. When page numbers are unavailable, as in most .html documents, then you need to include the paragraph number in your citation.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
If you need a resource (book, film, journal article) that isn’t available at Mount Allison, the libraries can bring it in for you at no charge. Go to the Circulation Desk first to activate your student card, and then click on the link to the “Interlibrary Loan Request Form” on the bottom right of the library’s home page. It leads to the ILL web page here: http://www.mta.ca/library/ill.html
Note: Interlibrary loans can take one to two weeks or longer, depending on where the items are located. Start your research early in order to leave yourself time should you require resources from other libraries.
Information on the Internet ranges from excellent to awful. Select web resources carefully when you are doing your research. Government, research institute, and university web sites are all examples of where you can find good material. Wikipedia, although it can have its uses, is not considered a scholarly resource suitable for university-level research.
Try to make your search as specific as possible. The more general your search terms, the greater the number of results you will get.
Limit your searches by using the Advanced Search options, such as language, file format, and specific web site. To limit a Basic Search to a particular web site, enter your search terms, and then add the limiter (site:. for Google; domain:. for AltaVista) and the domain.
Example: site:.gc.ca will limit Google search results to only pages from the Government of Canada’s web site
Note: there is a colon ( : ) and a period ( . ) immediately following the word “site” (or “domain” in AltaVista)
Finding Book Reviews
The Book Review Digest is one example of a print resource that will lead you to book reviews. It’s located in the Bell Library’s Reference Collection, at call number: Z 1035 .A1 B73 It has a full citation for each book listed, a brief summary, plus an excerpt and reference to the journal in which the full review appeared. There is an “Abbreviation of Periodicals” list at the front of each volume to tell you what the full name of the journal is. Write down the title of the journal, as well as the year and volume and issue numbers. You can then perform an Exact Search in the library catalogue to get the call number for that journal.
When you use a print index to find book reviews you need to know when the book was published. Look at the title page or the verso (the page after the title page) of the book or check a library catalogue to get this information. Then, go to the index for that year as well as for the following one to three years, to get citations for where book reviews were published. It can take several months for a reviewer to get a book, read it, write the review, submit it to the journal, and then have the review appear in print.
Many indexes and databases include book reviews. You can search for them by entering the title of the book, and limiting the search to reviews. For example, this is done:
• in JSTOR by checking the “Review” box on the Advanced Search page.
• in Project Muse by changing the search field from “All Fields (w/text)” to “Title Reviewed.”
• in ProQuest by entering “review” in a second search box and changing the search field from “Citation and abstract” to “Document type.”
Writing Book Reviews
Buckley, Joanne. “The Book Review.” In Fit to Print: The Canadian Student’s Guide to Essay Writing. Harcourt Brace, 1998.
Mount Allison Call Number: REF LB 2369 .B83 1998 (see pages 101-103)
Betz, Sonya. “A Concise Guide to Writing a Critical Book Review.” University of Alberta Libraries. 23 September 2005. <http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/bookreview/index.cfm> (3 October 2007).
“How to Write a Critical Book Review.” U of T Mississauga Library: Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre. 8 March 2007. <http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/library/instruction/howtowritebookrev.html> (3 October 2007).