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Modern Languages Research Methods Sept 2012
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Modern Languages Research Methods Sept 2012



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  • These are the ones we’re going to look at more closely
  • Explain how encyclopedias work.
  • In fact, the distinction between “encyclopedia” and “dictionary” is fairly blurry. There are also other terms used.
  • History examples The Timetables of History (Ref D11/G78/1991) Chronology of World History (Ref D11/F75/1978)Once you’ve found the basics of what’s going on at a particular time, you can look up more information on those situations or events if you need more detail.Art:McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Art (Ref N33/M23)International Dictionary of Art and Artists (Ref N31/I5/1990)From Renaissance to Impressionism: Styles and Movements in Western Art, 1400-1900 (Ref N6370/F76/2000)Literature:The Oxford Companion to Spanish Literature (Ref PQ/6006/O95)European Authors 1000-1900: A Biographical Dictionary (Ref PN451/K8)A Handbook to Literature (Ref PN41/H6/1986)Note:If your person is active in another sphere of activity, can also try that. E.g. RELIGION. Also can look them up in a source on their historical period, e.g. Middle Ages.
  • Show how to get there. If you’re at home you’ll need to login (same login as for college computers). Search: CERVANTES. Try as Subject Author.
  • Evaluate your sources. You should do this whether it’s a printed encyclopedia article, an online encyclopedia article, a full length book, a magazine or journal article, and especially if it’s something you just found online by doing a Google search. Be critical, weigh it carefully.
  • This is especially necessary for websites. One of the nice things about using an encyclopedia is that basically some of this has been done for you.


  • 1. ModernLanguages:an introductionto ChamplainLibrary Resources Cornelia Penner September 2012
  • 2. What we’ll cover today  Information sources for your assignment  How to evaluate sources  Research log
  • 3. Information Sources: Printedreference books CREDO Reference MagillOnLiterature Plus
  • 4. Why use encyclopedias and otherreference books? Brief articles/entries Authoritative information Concise explanation/overview of a topic
  • 5. Dictionaries More than just for languages! Alphabetical listing of words Provides meanings, definitions, or brief explanations Usually short entries (about one paragraph)
  • 6. Encyclopedias• not just generalencyclopedias – trysubject encyclopediasinstead!• usually lengthierinformation than adictionary
  • 7. Encyclopedia Dictionary Companion Guide Handbook
  • 8. Tips for searching: Encyclopedias and dictionaries usually have a way to indicate that a term used in an article is also the subject of its own article (bold, italics, capital letters, asterisk) SEE, SEE ALSO Is there an index?
  • 9. -Try a timeline/chronologyHistory -Then try an encyclopedia or dictionary for more detail -Look up an artist, artwork, school of art, or artisticArt movement in an art dictionary or encyclopedia -Look up a text, author, literary movement in a literaryLiterature encyclopedia or dictionary -Look up an author in a biographical dictionary
  • 10.  600+ encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference books Published books which have been put online All subject areas Search them all at once!
  • 11. MagillOnLiterature Plus An EbscoHost product Literary topics only No journal/magazine articles Search lots of reference books at once?
  • 12. Evaluating Your Sources Is it relevant?  UnlockingResearch -- Relevance Is it of appropriate quality?  UnlockingResearch -- Quality
  • 13. Evaluating for QUALITY Apply the CRAP test:  Currency  Reliability  Authority  Purpose
  • 14. Keeping Track of Your Research  Use a Research Log
  • 15. Let’s search!