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Web Wednesday [11/16]: Library Edition

Prewriting: Did you vote? If not, do so right now: http://eng170w.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2011/11/15/picking-a-novel/.

Today’s goal: to find at least one really good scholarly article on a topic related to your short story and create an MLA citation for it.

When you do library research, you can’t find what you want if you don’t know the right word to search for. The “right word” is called a “subject heading.” Subject headings are agreed upon by all libraries, and may not be the first words you think of (for example, you don’t search “movies” or “film,” you search “motion pictures”).

Read this webpage, which discusses what a subject heading is: http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/Library/research/tutorials/booksearching/topicsearch.php

Now, tweet three words you think would be the best subject headings for an academic article or book related to your chosen short story. These will be subjects, not necessarily the title or author or characters.

Library Part I: A database is like a “basket” that contains a number of individual journals (each of which contains individual articles). Each database has a different collection of journals, so you will need to search multiple databases, but Academic Search Complete is a good general database to start general research.

Navigate to the library database Academic Search Complete, found here: http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/Library/research/databases.php

Do a basic search for each of the three subject headings you tweeted. Ignore the article results, but look to the left column and find “Subject: Thesarus Term” and “Subject.” Copy down the synonyms the database is suggesting to you that are actually relevant, and ignore the red herrings. Leave a comment below that notes your original term, and the newly suggested related terms you should use.

Library Part II: Perform a new search on the same database using one of the new subject headings you have discovered. Where it says “Select a Field (optional),” drag down to “SU Subject Terms” so that you’re only searching for that word in Subject Term fields. Also, add other search terms related to your story (perhaps the author’s name, the title, the genre, etc); try searching for these in the “TX All Text” under “Select a Field (optional).” Leave a comment describing your results.

Writing Part: Reflect on your research so far. On your own blog, create a post that poses an open-ended question about your story. Write a paragraph about what kinds of information you would need to answer your question, and what other kinds of topics or terms you would search to help investigate your question.

Homework: Vote on Final Round here: http://poll.fm/3dnxm

Continue to work on your annotated bibliography: go back to the library’s database page and navigate to the JSTOR journal. Replicate your previous successful searches on this database. Look for other databases that are more specific to the disciplines of your topic (like a history-focused database, a literary studies-focused databases, or a sociological-focused based).

Still confused?:  Read this, a tutorial on searching the library database for articles: http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/Library/research/tutorials/articlesearching/index.php

Posted in Prof Ferguson, Web Wednesday.


37 Responses

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  1. mikadroz says

    I started with Native Americans, prejudice, and racism. Some of the relevant terms I received were racial discrimination, oppression, ethnocentrism, intergroup relations, and aggression. I would likely pair several of these with ‘Native American’ to narrow my search down.

    • mikadroz says

      I also found that many articles use ‘Indians in North America’, so I may try searches with that as well.

      • Kevin L. Ferguson says

        was going to ask if “Native American” was the appropriate Subject Heading.

      • Kevin L. Ferguson says

        I was going to ask if “Native American” was the appropriate Subject Heading.

  2. clo120 says

    Amontillado: The Cask of Amontillado (short story), Edgar Allan Poe

    Poe: Criticism

    Revenge: Punishment, Retribution, Victims, Revenge in Literature

  3. mchan says

    Relationships –
    Subject: Thesaurus Term -> Interpersonal relations, relationship quality, man-woman relationships, satisfaction,
    Subject -> social aspects, psychological aspects, relationship break up, sex – social aspects

    Short stories: Literature & history, plots (drama, novel, etc.), fiction, short story (literary form),

    Earthquakes: Earthquake hazard analysis, Earthquake magnitude, earthquake damage, earthquake zones, earthquake aftershocks, economic aspects, psychological aspects,

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says

      especially with the last one, you’re seeing how some subject headings are “Parent” categories that have subcategories.

  4. seslami says

    My old word: ethics
    After searching: PROFESSIONAL ethics, MEDICAL ethics, CODES of ethics, LEGAL ethics.

    My old word: conflict
    After searching: conflict management, social conflict, interpersonal conflict, conflict (psychology)

    My old word: consequences
    After searching: drinking of alcoholic beverages, mental health, regression analysis, social impact, research, epidemiology

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says

      All of your examples make me wonder which subtheme your story is REALLY about: “medical ethics” is very different than “legal ethics” . . .

  5. egallone24 says

    My three original words were trust, abuse, and consequence. The relative terms for trust that appeared were interpersonal relations and decision making. Relative terms for abuse that appeared were child abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, sex crimes etc. Finally, for consequence, the terms that were relevant were mental health and social impact.

  6. Jerry says

    Mine – Humor, 1860s , United States

    Suggested – Laughter, Walt Whitman , Slavery

  7. xiomara capera says

    Tweeked my terms a bit

    Original Terms ——– Suggested Terms

    Funeral Ritual rites & ceremonies; death; bereavement

    Village Myth ethnology

    Veneration religion; saints

  8. egallone24 says

    i searched child abuse and Joyce Carol Oates (the author) and my results showed that this author is known for having abuse as the theme of many of her works. She had written articles about Child abuse and danger and also pieces of literature. An example of a work of literature that appeared as a result was “The Rise of Life on Earth”.

  9. mikadroz says

    I found some interesting articles. ‘Native Americans’ gets me further than ‘Indians in North America’, but some of these other terms gave me articles like ‘Recounting the Fables of Savagery: Native Infanticide and the Functions of Political Myth’, which talks about the demonization of Native Americans through completely false stories. I also found an article that shows how the only times Native Americans were included in early forms of advertising were to promote various racial stereotypes.

    • mikadroz says

      …unfortunately, neither of these articles are available online or anywhere in this borough.

  10. seslami says

    First I typed in “professional ethics.” Under that I typed in the author’s name of the short story. I hit search, and no results were found. I typed in the title of the short story instead of the author’s name, and no results were found again.
    So, I typed in another subject, “interpersonal conflict.” I typed author’s name again, no results. I played around with it, trying different ways to maybe narrow down my search results, but I keep getting “no results found.”
    This is pretty discouraging…

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says

      I bet by “professional ethics” they mean more like business-type articles about how to behave, or legal articles on how professions need to be ethical. You’re probably not going to find a literary analysis on that topic AND your story or author.

  11. jtrezza says

    Original: Adventure – Treasure
    Suggested: ADVENTURE & adventure, BOOKS – Reviews, FICTION, TREASURE troves, ADVENTURE stories

    Original: Treasure Hunters
    Suggested: HUNTERS, TREASURE troves, BOOKS – Reviews, SHIPWRECKS,

    Original: Adventure – Poe
    Suggested : ADVENTURE and adventurers, POE, Edgar Allen, 1809 – 1849, SOCIAL aspects,

  12. mchan says

    I searched “psychological aspects” under SU and kobe and Japan (because the earthquake in the story happened in Kobe, Japan 1995). Looking through the results, I see that it is much more refined, but there isn’t a consecutive string of results regarding the Kobe earthquake. The first result is the most accurate because it explore psychological impacts regarding that event. The following few results don’t have anything to do with the earthquake but more with psychological impacts in Japan. It was surprising that the first one was the article I had in mind because it centers on earthquakes when
    “earthquakes” wasn’t one of the terms. It seems that the biggest psychological issue in Kobe Japan in recent history would be that earthquake of 1995 (which makes sense in the story because the little girl is still traumatized years after it happened). The 8th, 10th, and 12th articles listed had to do with psychological impacts of the earthquake in 1995.

  13. sasha says

    Instead of mystery, detective and Victorian, I now have:
    Criminal investigation — England — Fiction.
    Detective and mystery stories.
    England — Fiction.

  14. jtrezza says

    When searching the suggested phase “Poe, Edgar Allen, 1809-1849” by using the SU filter, the results were baffling. Virtually nothing that came up even vaguely resembled anything having to do with Poe. Confused, I switched the filter to TX, where the results were much more helpful. I found various academic journals focusing on the author’s writing, death and comparison to other writers.

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says

      YES–you not only have to know what words to search, but where to search for them. Searching a “subject” in “full text” will give you way more results than searching a “subject” in “subject.”
      You might try searching a more general “Subject” term, but simplifying the “text” search (with your example, the author would have to write poe’s full name as well as the same birth and death dates).

  15. andycrazn says

    when i did the first search there wasnt anything that stood out to me. but when i added the title of my story it had some interesting results. the terms changed to prisons, correctional institutions, punishment, and criminal justice policy. In the subject area, the only thing that was useful was dystopias in literature.

  16. Jerry says

    In my second search i used some of the new terms that were suggested but i also threw in some terms that i feel would give me the best results. I used my authors name and his most written theme and found a couple of articles that spoke about him and that theme. Im not sure how to use this but that’s what i found.

  17. jkauffman says

    For Madness: Medical/Psychiatry/General as well as Mental Illness in Mass Media
    For Paranoia: Psychology/Mental Illness
    For Fear: Psychology/Cognitive Psychology
    These all seemed related because my short story is based entirely on the psychological illnesses that the speaker has.

  18. APMimz says

    Controversy:
    Thesaurus Term: History, Research, Essays
    Subject: Social aspects, History & Criticism, 20th Century

    Social Standing:
    Thesaurus Term: Social Standing, Social Classes
    Subject: Social Aspects, Social Status in Literature

    Pride:
    Thesaurus Term: Pride and Vanity, Nationalism
    Subject: Psychological Aspects, Social aspects

    • APMimz says

      I found that a lot of the subjects didn’t come up when looking for them with the author and book title. It’s more difficult to find several of the subjects involved. I found only 4 in the process, but I’m trying several different synonyms now.

  19. xiomara capera says

    In my second search I got hardly any relevant results. However, then i search for the term magic realism as the subject term in Gabriel Garcia Marquez and i came up with articles discussing Marquez’ creation of a world intermingled with magic presented in a factualy matter.

  20. xiomara capera says

    In my second search I got hardly any relevant results. However, then i searched for the term magic realism as the subject term in Gabriel Garcia Marquez and i came up with articles discussing Marquez’ creation of a world intermingled with magic presented in a factualy matter.

  21. lindsayc says

    My first original word was Oscar Wilde and it suggested that I use books-reviews, criticism, authors, nonfiction, etc.
    And the my second word, rose, was basically suggested by them, as well.

  22. lindsayc says

    In my second search, I found many articles dedicated to speaking of Oscar Wilde himself, or about many of his works, not one in specific. But I did see a few that may help support my arguments in the future.

  23. morgan92 says

    Financial hardship- Poverty, Hardship, Socioeconomic Factors, Psychological Aspects, and Social Conditions.
    Employment Opportunites- Discrimination in Employment, Job Vacancies, Employment, and Social Aspects.
    Burglaries- Burglary, Crime, Burglary Investigation, Criminals, Psychological Aspects.

  24. morgan92 says

    After completing my modified search I found that F Scott Fitzgerald wrote many books and stories concerning class distinction following World War I into the 1920’s. A common theme linked to Fitzgerald’s works was social construct. He displays this in most of his writings where he portrays his characters as being very rich or poor.

  25. Henna says

    Original Term: greed
    Suggested Terms: avarice, ethics, fear

    OT: good versus evil
    ST: good & evil in literature

    OT: locked room mystery
    ST: detective & mystery stories, problem solving, crime — fiction, description (rhetoric)

  26. Henna says

    Once figured out, my search (albeit done at 7 p.m. due to technical difficulties this afternoon) yielded satisfying results. I exchanged thesaurus recommended “good & evil in literature” for my original search term, “good versus evil,” and further specified intended results with the sub-search “Sherlock Holmes.” I selected an article at random and was pleased to, via a quick skim, read the following: “EVEN the master of the deductive puzzle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, employed theme to engage the reader. Often it was Holmes’s patriotism that prompted him to take a case and see it through to completion.” How befitting. In “The Speckled Band,” Holmes responds to Miss Stone’s concern that she is not in a situation to reward him for his services at the present time, “my profession is its own reward” and that mustn’t be concerned. Clearly, as McCormick writes in his article featured on Ebscot, it isn’t money that compels Holmes to solve crime.

    • Kevin L. Ferguson says

      Oooh . . . the “patriotism” quote is intriguing. Was Holmes presented as nationalistic figure? Or was he ever in the army?

  27. Jessica Danielle Powell says

    The original heading was: Women’s Rights and the thesaurus terms that I received were, Women’s right, WOMEN – Social conditions, WOMEN – Legal Status, laws, etc., Human rights, FEMINISM, VIOLENCE against women, WOMEN in politics, EQUALITY, HISTORY, and GENDER inequality. Gender Inequality and Women – Social Conditions are very relevant to my story. I should use these when searching on databases for information about my story.

    The Original term that was searched was Oppression. The thesaurus terms that I received are OPRESSION (Psychology), SOCIAL groups, RACISM, SOCIAL justice, FEMINISM, SOCIAL psychology, RESEARCH, PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIAL change, and EPISTEMICS. Some of the most relevant terms to my story include OPPRESSION (Psychology) because of Mrs. Mallard’s extreme change in psyche and emotional state.

    The Original search term was: Marriage. The thesaurus terms that were listed are: MARRIAGE law, MARRIAGE, SAME-sex marriage, SAME-sex marriage – Law & Legislation, MARRIAGE – Religious aspects, LGBT marriage, MARRIAGE – United States, HISTORY, and INTERACCIAL MARRIAGE. The ones that are most relevant to my story are Marriage Law … this could give me more insight on the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

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