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Anthropology Research Guide: Library 101

Tips on Searching

1. Have a question, or a fuzzy idea. What social factors cause young men to kidnap wives in Kyrgyzstan? is great. I've heard something about bride kidnapping is a good place to start, as well.

2. Browse encyclopedias or Wikipedia to get a quick overview, or search a general database like Academic Search Complete UCB access only and read an article or two to learn what’s out there on your topic.

3. Come up with a list of words to search in our top anthropology databases. Don't be afraid to search for nearby countries or related customs. If searching for "bride abduction" doesn't turn up anything, try "marriage customs." If searching for the Tajik language doesn't give you results, look for articles about the related Dari language.

4. Know how Google Scholar + library catalogs and databases work, and try each one for a major project.

  • Use an asterisk: ethnog* gives you books about ethnog-raphy, ethnog-raphers and ethnog-raphic.
  • Try all spellings: Kyrgyz OR Kirghiz, tabu OR taboo
  • Use related terms for topics or people groups: bride abduction OR bride kidnapping, Dine OR Navajo 
  • Switch it up and keep searching. Like a puzzle app, it can take a while to unlock what you're looking for!

5. Download and read a few related articles. Their mention of other articles will give you ideas for other resources.

6. You probably won't find the perfect article. No one else is going to make your argument for you in a single article. Instead, you'll need to combine ideas from other authors on related topics or cultures to make your own argument for how humans are the way they are. That's anthropology!

7. Get help. Use the 20-minute rule. If you're still struggling after 20 minutes of searching, email a librarian for an appointment.

Start with "Reference" Sources

"Reference sources" are books or websites you refer to when you'd like to get a broad idea of a new topic before you dive into research.

Many academics start with Wikipedia Free or open access. We encourage you to also read and cite the dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and companions which the Anthropology Library has bought in print and online:

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