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Anthropology Research Guide: Tips

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 look for general articles in Academic Search Complete UCB access only to get an overview on your topic.

3. Come up with a list of words to search for in our anthropology databases. Sometimes you'll need to think broadly. If "bride abduction" doesn't work, try "marriage customs." If you can't find anything on Tajik, try the related Dari language.

4. Know the keyboard shortcuts for catalogs and databases. Some of them use a specific lingo, like you were in a new computer game:

  • Use an asterisk. In some databases, ethnog* will show you books about ethnog-raphy, ethnog-raphers and ethnog-raphic.
  • Use OR to check multiple spellings. Try Kyrgyz OR Kirghiz     tabu OR taboo
  • Check alternate wording: Try bride abduction OR bride kidnapping      Dine OR Navajo 
  • Try using different databases. It's like unlocking the next level in a puzzle app; it takes exploration to find 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. You may not find 2-3 articles that make your argument for you. Instead, you'll want to combine ideas on related topics or cultures to make your argument for why humans are the way they are. That's anthropology!

7. Get help. If you're not finding much after 20 minutes of looking around, ask a librarian, professor, or friend for help. Don't just give up! 

Start with reference sources

"Reference sources" are books or websites you refer to for a general picture on your topic.

You could start with Wikipedia Free or open access. We also encourage you to read dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and companions. Try: