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Guides to Specific Courses
Find Reference Works
Citing encyclopedia and other reference works is NOT considered a scholarly pratice, therefore you are discouraged to include such sources in your research paper. However, if you are new to the field and do not know much about your research topic, reference works can be a good place to start. A good reference work can help you relate your topic to the large context of the discipline, and help you quickly identify key authors, key sources, and key issues on the subject. This kind of background information is useful for refining your research topic, coming up with a good research question, and identifying possible sources for further research.
- How to Find Reference Works
You can find print reference works via Library Catalog. For example, when you type in a keyword search term such as "middle east," and limit your search to "Location=Reference Stacks", you will get a list of reference works on Middle East in our reference collection. The following are some selected titles:
- The new encyclopedia of Islam Glassé Cyril. (REF BP40 .G42 2008)
- Historical dictionary of Syria Commins, David Dean. (REF DS94.9 .C66 2004)
- Historical dictionary of Iraq Ghareeb, Edmund. (REF DS70.9 .G47 2004)
- Handbook of political science research on the Middle East and North Africa R. Bernard. (JQ1758 .A58 H36 1998)
The library also has a number of online reference works in the database list that are relevant to Middle Eastern Studies. The following are specialized online reference works in Middle Eastern Studies:
The following are relevant general online reference works:
- Encyclopedia Britannica Online
- Country Studies/Area Handbook
- Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Literature Criticism Online
Find books for in-depth study on the topic
If you cannot find a good reference book on your chosen topic, you can always find relevant books on the topic. Read the introduction part of the book carefully, because that is where you may find a nice overview of the topic, including how the topic has evolved over time, and what major arguments have been made, and so on. Besides, you should always read the ending part of the book, the bibliography, carefully, because bibliographies can give you important clues as to what sources are available that may be relevant to your research. You may be able to find some sources this way that you may never find otherwise. Once you identify the sources (books and articles), it should be relatively easy to obtain them, either in our library or via interlibrary loan.
- How to Find Relevant Books
Find journal articles for up to date, focused analysis
Once you have a broad understanding of the research topic and come up with a well refined research question, you should find as many scholarly articles as you can for up to date, in-depth studies on the topic.
- How to Find Relevant ArticlesThere are many databases in our library database list that contain high quality scholarly articles on Middle East. For example
- Index Islamicus:Indexes literature on Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world, including Muslim areas of Asia and Africa, plus Muslim minorities elsewhere.Coverage Range: 1906 to present. Citation only.
- Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies: An index of research, policy and scholarly discourse on the countries and peoples of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Subject coverage includes: political affairs & law, international relations, economic affairs - business & industry, cultural heritage, arts & humanities, society & social welfare, ethnic diversity & anthropology, significant religious events & movements and recent history (1900 - present) & archaeology. Coverage Range: 1900-present. Citation only.
- JStor: JStor includes 31 Middle East related journals. It is full text, and covers publications about 1-5 years back from the current issue (not up to date).
- Project Muse: Project Muse includes 5 titles under Middle East Studies and 11 under Judaic Studies. It is full text, and covers mostly recent issues.
- RAMBI: a major database for Jewish Studies. Click on "English" in the upper right corner to view the page in English.
- Need More?There are also many discipline based specialty databases that include publications on Middle East. For example
- For topics related to literature, you should also search MLA International Bibliography;
- For topics related to history, you should also search Historical Abstracts;
- For topics related to education, you should also search ERIC;
- For topics related to religion, you should also search ATLA Religion;
- For humanities in general, you can also try Humanities International Complete;
- For social sciences in general, you can also try Social Sciences Citation Index in Web of Science and Social Science Full Text.
Find primary sources to support your argument
You can support your argument by quoting from secondary sources (studies done by other scholars). But you have to use primary sources to make an original claim or argument.
- How to Find Primary Sources
- For historical news archives, try Historical Newspapers;
- For up to date news reports, try LexisNexis News, which includes up to date news from all over the world;
- For news reports from foreign sources, try World News Connection, which contains translated news from all over the world;
- For art images, try ARTStor;
- For other types of primary sources such as diaries, interviews, pamphlets,government documents, manuscripts, and so on, you can search the Library Catalog and/or WorldCat. Type in the keyword search term plus the type of primary source ("diary" etc). Another way is to read the bibliographies of articles and books that you already have found. You may find out what primary sources that the other scholars are using. Some of the sources may be useful for your project as well. Once you identify the sources, it should be easy to get hold of them, either by checking our library collection or requesting them via interlibrary loan.
Scholarly sources on the Internet
Use the information found on the internet with caution. Be sure to verify its
- authority (Who is the author? Is he or she qualified)
- currency (Is the information up to date?)
- bias (Whose point of view does it represent?)
Check out the library page Evaluating Resources for more ways to evaluate sources found on the internet. Below is a list of quality internet sources for Middle Eastern Studies:
- U.S. Relations with the Muslim World: Contains a large amount of information on U.S. Muslim relations including official government statements, reports, Congressional hearings and research done by organizations such as the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Hosted by MERLN (the Military Education Research Library Network), a comprehensive website devoted to international military education outreach.
Organize your sources
Always document your sources carefully throughout the entire research and writing process. Check your Writers Manual or our library Citing Sources page for appropriate ways to document your sources in different styles.
Many scholarly/professional organizations in Middle Eastern Studies often include some very useful information in their websites, such as