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SUNY Geneseo Fraser Hall Library Subject Guides


HIST 266 Civil Rights Movement in America -- Professor Crosby: Advice on Searching Databases

Search Techniques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citation Tracking

Citation Tracking

Citation tracking refers to the practice of using the bibliography or reference list of a key article to find other suitable articles, and then to search for more recent articles that cite the key article in their bibliographies or reference lists. There are several databases that allow you to do this; Google Scholar and Scopus are particularly useful for citation tracking.

"The Response of the Moderate Wing of the Civil Rights Movement to War in Vietnam"

GoogleScholar  

 

Advice on Searching for Primary Sources

You will get limited results if you try to search for "primary sources" in library databases since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching these subject headings instead:

sources
personal narratives
documents
speeches
memoirs or autobiographies
diaries

letters or correspondences
oral histories

SOME ADVICE ON AUTOBIOGRAPHIES:  You will get limited results searching for the word "autobiography" since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching for "biography" but then look to make sure that the author is also listed as a subject. That is your clue that the person is writing about him or herself, and that is a primary source.

DOCUMENTARY HISTORIES:  There are collections of documents relating to various subjects, such as Agriculture in the United States: A Documentary History.  Search IDS for these by typing your subject along with the phrase "documentary history" in quotes. 

DOCUMENTARY FILMS:  Be wary of "documentaries" (films) because sometimes they are primary sources but often they provide analysis that is secondary.

PUBLICATION DATES:  Be aware that publication dates can be misleading. A book could have been written in 1952 but republished with a 20013 publication date; this is still a primary. 

Proximity Searching

PROXIMITY SEARCHING   Sometimes when you are searching a database, you find articles that have your search terms, but on separate pages of the article, only vaguely related to each other. In that case, the technique of Proximity searching would be helpful.  Proximity searching allows you to search for documents that contain two search terms, in any order, within a specified number of words.  Here is an example:

This search will retrieve articles in which the word diabetes appears within 5 words of the phrase clinical trials, whether diabetes comes first or after clinical trials.