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The following lists are not comprehensive. The items listed on this page are representative of some of the most frequently used research materials on this topic. To find more material, consult the library catalog or contact your librarian for assistance.
The following lists are not comprehensive. The items listed on this page are representative of some of the most frequently used research materials on this topic. To find more material, consult the library catalog or contact your librarian for assistance.
=== Indexes ===
=== Indexes ===
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REF N7832 .A72 1982  
REF N7832 .A72 1982  
=== Primary Resources ===
=== Primary Resources ===

Revision as of 21:29, 17 February 2012

For subject assistance contact: Chris Bombaro, Collections & Research Services Librarian, 245-1868.


Research Essentials

How to create bibliographies, identify search terms, and find good sources.

What is a Good Source?

During the course of your research, it is important to consult a variety of sources, including print and digital. On-line resources are quick and convenient in that they can be accessed outside the library, but they do not represent the complete range of information available in any discipline. Many of the rich resources owned by the Library, both primary and secondary, are available in print. A librarian can help you locate appropriate resources for your topic.

Good researchers don't ignore a possible location or lead. Some sources you discover may not be available in Dickinson's collection. When beginning the research process, be sure to build in enough time to order materials through Interlibrary Loan.

A good researcher is defined by the willingness and ability to follow leads and being able to quickly evaluate a source for its reliability and usefulness. Clues to important and reliable information come from many places. Secondary sources are often good places to start the reserach project, as their footnotes and bibliographies can provide you with leads to primary sources and other important secondary works.

Primary and Secondary Sources

A primary source is an account by an eyewitness or the first recorder of an event - or documents produced at the time an event occurred. A primary source may be printed or electronic material and can include diaries, letters, memoirs, personal papers, public documents, field research reports, minutes of meetings, news footage, newspaper articles, speeches, oral histories. Primary source material can also include creative works such as poetry, music, or art, and artifacts such as pottery, furniture, and buildings. Dickinson College owns primary material in fields such as Native American and scientific history, and the history of Dickinson College. The Library also has many indexes and databases which will help you locate primary material.

A secondary source is a document which is derived from, or based on, study and analysis of primary sources. These are works that are not original manuscripts or contemporary records, but which critique, comment on, or build upon these primary sources. They interpret and analyze primary sources and provide the background necessary to understand the primary sources. A secondary source may be printed or electronic material and can include reviews, criticism, editorials, analyses, encyclopedias, textbooks, histories, and commentaries. Most scholarly journal articles are secondary sources which provide analysis, interpretation, or evaluation.

How to Start Looking for Sources


Developing a list of keywords for your project is vital for your bibliographic search, for your note taking and for shaping your final paper. A keyword is simply an important word or short phrase relating to your research. Keywords can be a person's name, a book title, a place, an organization or a subject. You can often use keywords to conduct a search of the library's catalog, electronic databases, or printed indexes. As you begin to reseearch your topic, you will discover additional keywords that describe your subject.

Subject Headings

A subject heading is a specific word or phrase used to find and organize books and articles by topic. Subject headings are different from keywords in that they are specific terms assigned to a subject by an organization. For example, the Library of Congress supplies subject headings for books owned by Dickinson College (and other libraries), and the company that provides the MLA database supplies subject headings for the articles indexed in that database.

These subject headings, also known as subject descriptors, may not be what you would expect. You might, for instance, go to our catalog and search for autobiographies. The Library of Congress often uses the term "personal narrative' instead of autobiography.

Library of Congress Subject headings can often be found on the page of a book that provides the publisher's information. The subject heading can then be used to search for a book or article when copied exactly as printed. Another way to figure out what the key words or subject descriptors are for your subject would be to enter the title of a book on the subject that is in our library. Then look at the bottom of the record and find the subject descriptors.

In the library catalog and many electronic databases, an items's subject(s) will be hyperlinked, so that you can click on the subject heading to find similar items. You also might want to note the exact words for future use.

This is an example of a book in the library catalog with numerous subject headings:

Medieval maidens : young women and gender in England, 1270-1540

Call Number: HQ1147 .E6 P55 2003

Personal author: Phillips, Kim M.

Publication info: Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press, c2003.

Physical description: xv, 246 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

Series: (Manchester medieval studies)

General note: Based on the author's doctoral thesis, expanded and rewritten.

Bibliography note: Includes bibliographical references and index.

Subject: Young women--England--History.

Subject: Sex role--England--History.

Subject: Social status--England--History.

Subject: Social history--Medieval, 500-1500.

Subject: Women--History--Middle Ages, 500-1500.

Keeping Track of Your Sources

As you begin your research project take a moment and think about how to keep careful records of where you have searched (what catalog or database) and with what keywords. The system needs to be flexible and dynamic since your project may change focus and you need to adapt. What you want to avoid is repeating work (since you may not remember doing a search 1 month later) or leaving a hole in your research (e.g., by searching a database or site early on with one idea and then never returning after you have changed directions). You also need good recordkeeping from the start in order to keep track of your citations!

Expanding or Narrowing Your Search

Words such as AND, OR, and NOT are used to combine search terms to broaden or narrow a search in an electronic database. AND will narrow your search; for example, the search "cats AND dogs" returns items that contain both the terms cats and dogs (both terms must appear in the record). OR will broaden your search; for example, the search "cats OR dogs" will return items that contain either the term cat or the term dog - both not necessarily both. NOT will exclude specific items, thereby narrowing your search slightly. For example, the search "medieval history and (Italy NOT Florence)" will exclude any items on medieval history dealing with the city of Florence, but will include any other books or articles written about medieval history in the rest of Italy.

How to Find Materials on Medieval & Early Modern Studies in the Waidner-Spahr Library

Use the catalog and databases to find books and articles.

Finding Books

Use the Dickinson College online catalog to search for books that the Dickinson College library owns. Once you find a book you want, you will need to print or write down the call number for the item in order to locate it on the shelves.

In our library, books that are available for checkout are located on two floors of the library. You will find all books with call numbers beginning with A through F on the east wing of the main level of the library. All books with call numbers beginning with G through Z are located on the third floor. All reference books (non-circulating dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.) are located on the main level of the library behind the computer workstation area.

A map of the Waidner-Spahr Library is available here.

For more information about how books are arranged, please read the next section, Library of Congress Classification System.

Use WorldCat to search for books that are owned by other libraries worldwide.

Library of Congress Classification System

At the Waidner-Spahr library, we organize and shelve our materials using the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System. The call numbers of books shelved according to this system always start with one or two letters, and are completed with a mix of decimal and ordinal numbers and more letters. For example, call numbers beginning with D always denote materials that deal with general history and the history of Europe. More specifically, call numbers beginning with DG always denote materials on the history of Italy, and further, items with call numbers between DG401 and DG537 are used for materials that deal with medieval and early modern Italy. To see the complete LC classification outline, follow this link: Library of Congress Classification Outline.

An example of a typical call number is this:

DG457 .M87 T39 2003

Muslims in Medieval Italy: The Colony at Lucera

Taylor, Julie (Julie Anne)

Finding Journals

Journals are publications that are printed on a regular basis - usually monthly, weekly, or semi-annually. Journals are also known as periodicals or, more simply, magazines.

Your professors at Dickinson will usually require you to use scholarly journals for your research.

A scholarly journal has a narrow subject focus. The articles are written by experts in the field who are conducting original research, or writing reviews or essays; and the articles are often reviewed by the author's peers. Articles in scholarly journals may include bibliographies (citations to books and articles) and abstracts (short summaries of the article). Scholarly journals usually have a serious "look," including few if any ads or pictures. They may, however, include graphs, charts, or diagrams. Scholarly journals are usually available only by subscription.

Scholarly journals may have the additional requirement of being peer-reviewed, which means that a panel of experts will review all articles submitted for publication.

A popular magazine is meant for entertainment or informational purposes. Authors are usually professional writers, but not experts in any particular scholarly field. Magazines will include lots of photographs and advertisements. The subject material will be wider in scope than that of most scholarly journals. Popular magazines usually do not contain bibliographies or abstracts. These are the types of periodicals you can find at a newsstand.

An index is the tool to use when you are looking for scholarly articles that have been published in scholarly journals. Indexes may take the form of printed books, which are usually arranged alphabetically by subject; or electronic databases, which can be searched in a variety of ways (by keyword or author, for example). The subject-specific pages on this English Pathfinder will suggest the most appropriate indexes to use for your specific search. The Dickinson College Library does not own every journal covered in every index. You may have to use interlibrary loan to obtain an article.

Dickinson College owns approximately 10,000 journal titles, 8,000 of which are electronic and the remaining 2,000 in print.

Journal Locator

The Journal Locator is a searchable, alphabetic list of all the journals that Dickinson College owns in any format. The Journal Locator will tell you what issues of each journal we own.

Citing Sources and Plagiarism

College Policy on Citing Sources

It is necessary for you to give proper credit to all of the resources you use in your research papers. Plagiarism is a violation of Dickinson's Student Code of Conduct, and is a specific form of cheating defined in the code as follows:

1) To plagiarize is to use without proper citation or acknowledgment the words, ideas, or work of another. Whenever one relies on someone else for phraseology, even for only two or three words, one must acknowledge indebtedness by using quotation marks and giving the source, either in the text or in a footnote.

2) When one borrows facts which are not matters of general knowledge, including all statistics and translations, one must indicate one's indebtedness in the text or footnote. When one borrows an idea or the logic of an argument, one must acknowledge indebtedness either in a footnote or in the text. When in doubt, footnote. (Academic Standards Committee, November, 1965)

You should include appropriate citations in all of your research. Your professor will direct you as to what style he or she prefers; the English Department usually prefers the MLA Style.

How to Cite

Different professors may ask you to provide citations in different formats. The library has resources for any citation format you may require.

Reference Books

These reference books are available on the main level of the library and cannot be checked out.

Call Number                             Title  
REF LB2369 .G53 2003       MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers  
PE1408 .H26 2000           A Pocket Style Manual
REF Z253 .U69 1993         The Chicago Manual of Style

Web Sites

The following web sites are continually updated.

The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) - online edition.

MLA (Modern Language Association) The "official" site, includes regular updates.

Citation Styles (MLA, APA, Chicago, CBE) An all purpose web site from Bedford/St. Martin's publishers. It is contained in Online: a Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources.

Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format Excellent website created by the Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Writing with Sources Gordon Harvey's Expository Writing Program at Harvard University.


The following web site will help you understand what plagiarism is.

What is Plagiarism? Georgetown University defines plagiarism, paraphrasing, and copyright. How to cite web resources, and what to do if someone helps you with your research.

Websites on Medieval and Modern Studies

You should be extremely cautious when using internet resources for your research. Anyone can publish anything on the Web. Unlike traditional print resources, web resources rarely have editors or fact-checkers and no standards exist to ensure accuracy on the internet. To determine whether a website may be appropriate for your research, you should take a look at various elements of the page and think about the following criteria.

An appropriate website may be:

  • Signed or attributed to an author.
  • Created by an expert in the field.
  • Hosted by a university, college, branch of government or not-for-profit organization.
  • Unbiased.
  • Updated frequently.
  • Supported by footnotes, bibliographies, and additional readings.
  • Relevant to your research.

An inappropriate website may be:

  • Unsigned and unattributed to an author.
  • Created by a profit-making company.
  • Hosted by advertisers motivated to sell products.
  • Biased strongly toward one point of view.
  • Out of date and rarely, if ever, updated.
  • Devoid of the author's sources.
  • Flashy and interesting, but irrelevant.

The following websites have been evaluated for you and may supplement your research in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.


Gateway to resources for Medieval Studies sponsored by Georgetown University. Includes primary and secondary resources, images, and maps.

Index of Medieval Medical Images

What it says - a little yucky.

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

Documents in law, history and diplomacy. From B.C. through the 21st century.

English Broadside Ballad Archive

From the University of California at Santa Barbara

Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB)

Created by the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Contains essays, bibliographies, and links to full-text translations of medieval documents.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Hosted by Fordham University. Consits of the full-text, sometimes annotated, of medieval documents.

Middle English Collection

From the University of Virginia. Transcriptions of original Middle English texts, many anonomous. Also includes the writings of Chaucer, Dunbar, Gower, Henryson, and Layamon.

Online Medieval and Classical Library

A collection of some of the most important literary works of Classical and Medieval civilization, hosted by the University of California-Berkley. The transcribed documents are annotated and include bibliographies.

Voice of the Shuttle: Anglo-Saxon and Medieval

Includes transcriptions of medieval literature, authors and anonymous works, manuscripts, criticism , dictionaries, journals, conference and professional information, and fonts for display of Old English. The Voice of the Shuttle is a website for humanities research maintained by the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Public domain religious and theological works from Calvin College. Includes the writings of Augustine, Crysostom, Ambrose, and Anselm. Also includes homilies of priests of the Nicene period.

Medieval Art

The following lists are not comprehensive. The items listed on this page are representative of some of the most frequently used research materials on this topic. To find more material, consult the library catalog or contact your librarian for assistance.


An index is a specialized database that organizes information about the locations of articles in journals/magazines, reports and newspapers; and book chapters, papers in conference proceedings, and book reviews. Indexes provide the complete bibliographic citation of an article, including the title of the article, author, name of the journal, volume number, the pages of the journal in which the article can be found, and a short summary, or abstract, of the article. Some indexes are in book form, and some are electronic databases. Some electronic databases, including MLA, do NOT provide the complete text of articles. For tips on how to effectively search databases, and how to find journals that are not available on-line, contact your librarian, or consult How to Find Materials on Medieval & Early Modern Studies in the Waidner-Spahr Library.

Art Full Text

Covers leading publications in the world of the arts. Includes major English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as European periodicals in a number of different languages. Also includes records of reproductions of works of art that appear anywhere in any of the indexed publications.

Art Index Retrospective

Index to citations in art, art history, and art criticism. Primarily English but includes articles published in French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Dutch. Includes indexing of art reproductions.

Index of Christian Art (Princeton)

A database of Christian art which contains over 20,000 work of art records which are accompanied by over sixty thousand images in color and black and white.

ITER: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance

Literature pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700 C.E.). Includes citations for books, journal articles, and essays in books.

Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Covers nearly 500 journals as well as many essay collections devoted in large part to topics dealing with women, sexuality, or gender.

Historical Abstracts

Historical Abstracts covers materials treating all aspects of world history, except the United States and Canada, from 1450 to the present.

Humanities Full Text

Covers journal articles in the humanities, archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, history, journalism and communications, linguistics, literature, music, performing arts, and religion.

Humanities and Social Sciences Retrospective

A bibliographic database that cites articles from English-language periodicals. Coverage includes a wide range of interdisciplinary fields covered in a broad array of humanities and social sciences journals.


An interdisciplinary archive of over 600 journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Project Muse

Search journals published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are helpful in finding basic information about your topic area. They may also serve as sources of inspiration to you as you search for new topics to research. The following list is not comprehensive. Search the library catalog for for more encyclopedias and dictionaries. Refer to How to Find Materials on Medieval & Early Modern Studies in the Waidner-Spahr Library for tips on how to best perform a search, or contact your librarian for assistance.

Medieval Studies: An Introduction

REF D116 .M4 1992

Art of the Christian World, A.D. 200-1500: A Handbook of Styles and Forms

REF N7832 .A72 1982



Who's Who in the Middle Ages

REF D115 .F5 1971


Dictionary of National Biography

Biographies of people who shaped the British Isles.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index

Biography and Genealogy Master Index is the first place you should look when seeking biographical information on any living or deceased person worldwide. It is an electronic index to over 13 million biographical entries in 3,400+ biographical reference works.


Mosan Art: An Annotated Bibliography

REF N6933 .C47 1988

Art of the Christian world, A.D. 200-1500: A Handbook of Styles and Forms

REF N7832 .A72 1982

Primary Resources

Index of Christian Art (Princeton)

A database of Christian art which contains over 20,000 work of art records which are accompanied by over sixty thousand images in color and black and white.