Sources | Journal Articles | Newspaper/Magazine
Articles | Theses/Dissertations | Books/Book
The National Center Portal/Special Collections/Archives | Interlibrary Loan | Citing Your Sources
The purpose of this course research guide is to acquaint you with some of the University Library's resources useful for researching your topics. This is not a comprehensive list of resources but rather a starting point. Should you have questions, stop by the Reference Desk on the 1st floor. You may also call the Reference Desk at (334) 229-4110 during the hours the Library is open.
Reference sources available in both Reference and Special Collections are an excellent place to start your research. Often they can help you explore topics before choosing one or to narrow or broaden a topic you're considering. They provide names of people and places, dates, events, definitions, citations for works on your topic, and much more. This information can later be used to search for articles and books.
Library of Congress Call Numbers
Reference books are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers, which always begin with one or more letters related to the subject of the book. Take some time to browse the call number areas listed below to become familiar with some of our reference books. You may also search HORNetCat, the Library's online catalog, to identify the locations for other reference books.
Guides to Research
Guides to research discuss types of information sources, for example, encyclopedias, article indexes and databases, books, journals, and government documents. They often list specific works within these types.
Subject Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
These works focus on a subject area like history. Some are broader in perspective covering history in general. Others concentrate more specifically on, perhaps, time periods, cultures, social movements, race/ethnicity, or countries. They provide a brief foundation of information you'll find useful when you begin searching for journal articles, books, and other information sources. Subject encyclopedias also serve you well if you are having touble finding a topic or narrowing a broad topic.
Some examples of subject dictionaries and encyclopedias are listed below. You can find others by browsing the appropriate call number areas. Also try a builder search in HORNetCat for the words encyclopedia or dictionary in the title in addition to other words that might appear in the title.
Some reference works only include biographical information. They may be broader in scope or focus on specific groups like African Americans, women, or politicians.
You'll discover bibliographies, lists of works on a specific subject, at the end of a book or as individual publications. They are a great source for leading you further into your research. Use Bibliographic Index to find citations for bibliographies on your topic. A couple of examples of book-length bibliographies are also listed below. Since the call numbers for many bibliographies begin with the letter Z you may wish to browse this area. You may also try a builder search in HORNetCat to locate bibliographies in Reference, Special Collections, and the Circulating Collection on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Library.
Statistics often help you see trends or changes and can provide a quick snapshot of life at a particular time. For instance, statistics recorded in the United States census every 10 years indicate settlement patterns, literacy rates, types of crops raised, and birthplace, age, race, occupation, and gender of residents.
Much of the scholarly literature, either current or historical, is published in journals. The best method for finding journal articles is to use one of the Library's online article databases. For additional information on the databases listed below and for others, explore our list of databases. Our databases are now easily accessible off campus by clicking on the database name and typing in the information requested. If you need additional assistance with accessing the databases, contact Randy Curtis (334 229-6968) or Cedric Davis (334 229-6998).
Some of the databases provide access to the entire text of articles. If the text of an article is not available in a database, check for the journal title in Serials Solutions (ASU) to determine if the article is available in another online database. Also check HORNetCat, our online catalog, for availability of journals in the Serials Department on the third floor. You may order those not available in the Library or via a full-text database through Interlibrary Loan.
Of course, the online databases don't always cover the time period or topic you are researching nor do they index all of the journals you wish to examine. These print indexes in the Serials Department on the Library's 3rd floor can be used in addition to those online.
Because they report events at the time they happen, newspapers and magazines are often essential sources for historical research. You may wish to explore a variety of these to get different perspectives.
Since many of our online magazine and newspaper indexes don't cover a significant time period, you'll also need to examine print indexes. These are located in the Serials Department on the 3rd floor.
These newspapers are located in the Serials Department on the 3rd floor.
You may also wish to examine the work of graduate students who prepared masters theses and doctoral dissertations. Information on these works is available online and in print.
Because of their length, books provide an in-depth look at topics. Don't forget to read reviews of books. When you find an appropriate book, browse the nearby shelves in the Reference and Circulating collections. The call number areas listed under Reference Sources also apply to the Circulating collection. Browsing is a valid technique for finding books you may have overlooked in your research.
The National Center PortalPortalfor the Study of Civil Rights &
The The The National Center Portal for the Study of Civil Rights & African-American Culture and the Special Collections & Archives (Ollie L. Brown African-American Heritage Collection) on the Library's 1st floor house multi-media materials representing African-American life. This repository for the preservation of school records and historical documents of permanent value pertaining to the life of the University and that of the community provide a unique opportunity for your research. Among the collections in this area are the:
The University Library provides a valuable service called Interlibrary Loan. We can order books, copies of articles, and other materials not in our Library to help you complete your research. Interlibrary Loan forms are available at the service desks on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th floors.
A copy of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Turabian) is available at the Main Reference Desk on the first floor of the Library.
Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think about this guide. Has it helped with your research? Do you have any suggestions for improving the guide? You may e-mail Marsha V. Taylor (email@example.com) or call her at (334) 229-6839 with your comments and suggestions.
Course Research Guides | Information Literacy Program
Alabama State University | University Library & Learning Resources Center
Alabama State University