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SSI2-141: Architectures of Power (Prof. Carroll): Finding Secondary Sources

Where do I search?

A good starting point for academic work is one or more of the many databases available through the library's website. Databases provide access and content to sources that are generally not available on the open web through a general search engine like Google.

Every database contains only certain types and amounts of information. Which one you choose depends almost entirely on the context of your research project. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options.

Library catalog searches (i.e., Primo) can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.

Multidisciplinary databases cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They are good resources when you begin your research. JSTOR is an example of a multidisciplinary database.

Subject databases cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. America: History & Life is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic. 

Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles

Strategies for Finding Books

1.  Start with specific titles suggested in subject encyclopedia entries.

2.  Identify the Library of Congress Subject Headings for that book to identify more books on the topic.

3.  If required for your assignment, make sure that the book is scholarly. 

**To find eBooks, use the filters on the right to limit your results to eBooks (under "Resource Type")

Featured Books

A sampling of potentially relevant books is listed below.

Is it scholarly?

Here are some clues to look for in the catalog record when you are evaluating whether a book is scholarly or popular:

  • The publisher is either a university press or an academic publisher (such as Routledge, Wiley, Blackwell, etc.).
  • The description of the book includes "notes and references."

When you have the book in hand, and still aren't sure if it is scholarly, you might want to do a little more digging, perhaps with a couple of quick Google searches:

  • Who is the author?  What are the author's credentials or other sources of expertise?
  • Does the publisher have a website?  If so, what types of books does it publish and what is the process for submitting work for consideration?

Recommended Subject Databases

These subject databases may be especially useful for your research project for this class. Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases. 

But I can't find anything EXACTLY on my topic!

This is a GOOD thing!  It means that you have a wonderful opportunity to contribute an original argument to the world of ideas.  You'll need to undertake research creatively with related ideas and concepts. 

Suppose, for example, you want to apply a Foucauldian reading to Sheri Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country.  You can find nothing specifically on this topic.  However, you might think about the various concepts that are relevant to your research: 

feminist speculative or dystopian fiction;

control of women's bodies;

rigid gender-based hierarchies of power;

medical and reproductive surveillance as a means of social control, etc. 

By researching each of these threads separately, you'll have plenty of secondary scholarly sources to choose from and to engage with as you write your own analysis.