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ANTH 170: The Time(s) of Our Lives

Fall 2023 Research Guide

Workshop Materials

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Questions to Consider as you Review the Literature

Literature Search and review on your topic  Questions to ask:   What are the key sources? What are the key theories, concepts and ideas? What are the epistemological and ontological grounds for the discipline? What are the main questions and problems that have been addressed?  How is knowledge on the topic structures and organized What are the origins and definitions of the topic? What are the political standpoints? What are the major issues and debates about the topic? How have approaches to these questions increased our understanding and knowledge?

The Day of an Event Television, Social Media, and the Web  The who, what, why, and where of the event Quick, not detailed, regularly updated Authors are journalists, bloggers, social media participants Intended for general audiences The Day After an Event Newspapers  Explanations and timelines of the event begin to appear More factual information, may include statistics, quotes, photographs, and editorial coverage Authors are journalists Intended for general audiences The Week or Weeks After an Event Weekly Popular Magazines and News Magazines  Long form stories begin to discuss the impact on society, culture, and public policy More detailed analyses, interviews, and various perspectives emerge Authors range from journalists to essayists, and commentary provided by scholars and experts in the field Intended for a general audience or specific nonprofessional groups Six Months to a Year or More After an Event Academic, Scholarly Journals  Focused, detailed analysis and theoretical, empirical research Peer-reviewed, ensuring high credibility and accuracy Authors include scholars, researchers, and professionals Intended for an audience of scholars, researchers, and university students A Year to Years After an Event Books   In-depth coverage ranging from scholarly in-depth analysis to popular books Authors range from scholars to professionals to journalists Include reference books which provide factual information, overviews, and summaries Government Reports Reports from federal, state, and local governments Authors include governmental panels, organizations, and committees Often focused on public policy, legislation, and statistical analysis

You will likely go through the search process a number of times, performing different searches with different keyword combinations, to address the different components of your topic.

Systematic Searching Handsearching
#1 Identify your question. Identify the key concepts and related terms. Tip:  You may want to re-phrase your question. Background reading can help you identify related terms and further define or narrow your topic.  Explore reference lists to locate other articles, books, or authors who have written on the same topic. 
#2 Find an appropriate search tool. Consider your subject matter, discipline of study, type of information needed (e.g. peer reviewed articles) Locate cited by literature to view more recent similar or adjacent research.

#3 Start with a simple search based on your key concepts. Tip: You may also have to look at literature that refers to one (not all) aspects of your research question.

Browse the table of contents of relevant journals and special issues.

#4 Use specific search strategies.

  • Use AND to join dissimilar terms.
  • Use OR to join synonyms or related terms.
  • Truncate words with * to pick up variations of that word. 
  • Use "quotation marks" for phrase searching
  • Use database limiters e.g. limit to scholarly journals. 
  • Consider searching in a specific field e.g. title (article title) or source (journal title.)
Review bibliographies or reading lists to locate recommended or key resources.
#5 Search and skim results. Look for the language and terms that researchers use and that the database assigns to articles (Subjects). Locate an expert Locate an expert the the field and browse their publications.  
#6 Switch up your searches.  Use promising new terminologyYour search may become more sophisticated.  

Pre-Library Session Activities

Hello! I'm Elizabeth Salmon, the Social Science Librarian at Vassar. I'm looking forward to working with you during your library visit on Thurs. 9/14. Before we meet, please take five minutes or so to view the two videos below, and consider, 

  • Is there anything in the videos that resonated with your experiences of learning something new? 
  • Did the videos provide any information that you disagreed with or did you feel as though there are additional key points that should have been included? 

We'll begin the library session with a debrief of the videos. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me at, or visit my office, Main Library, Rm 117. See you soon! 

Research 101: Format Matters, University of Washington Libraries (3:41)

Why We Cite. UNC Writing Center (2:06; view only through 1:50)

Bonus Video: Joining the (Scholarly) Conversation. Clemson University (1:12)