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HSS 100 - The Black Death: Secondary Sources: Reserves, Books, & Articles

Research Tip

Use Reserve books and books from the stacks after getting an overview by looking at a variety of encyclopedias and other reference sources.  These books are very detailed, and if you start with a 400+ page book on the Silk Road, you will probably be very overwhelmed and confused!  Remember: reference first.

Parts of a book

Besides the main content of a book, the parts of a book itself can provide information useful for research.  The main parts of a book include:

Table of Contents: An outline or breakdown of the different chapters of a book.

Bibliography: The list of works used in the research of the book; useful for finding more informaiton on a topic.

Index: The list of key words, often including people and place names, used in the book and the page numbers for where those words appear; typically the last section of a book. Useful for knowing whether a specific person or term is referenced within the book.

Other possible sections include:

Appendix: The part or parts of a book that provide additional information to the main text; usually found near the back of the book.

Glossary: The section that defines key terms used in the book; usually found near the back of the book.

 

A friendly reminder

  • Outside of class, the books on Reserve are located on a cart behind the circulation desk. Please ask the person at the desk to browse the materials.
  • You can take 2 books at a time for 2 hours. They MUST be checked out.
  • You must have your ID to check out Reserves.
  • If you keep a Reserve item out for longer than 2 hours, or fail to check it out, you may face disciplinary action.
  • Fines are $1.00 per hour for every hour a Reserve item is late.
  • Reserve items must remain in the library at all times.
  • All books from the stacks can be checked out for 3 weeks and may leave the library.

Books on Reserve

Reference books don't provide all the answers. Eventually you are going to need to move on to other sources to get more details.That's where the books on reserve come in. The OWHL librarians and your teachers have already pre-selected a large selection of books that we feel are going to be the most useful to you. We know that a lot of you are going to want the same books, which is why you can only use them for 2 hours at a time.

If you want to find books that you can take back to your dorm, use the OWH Library catalog to find materials in the stacks. Anything that you get from the stacks can be checked out for 3 weeks.

Journal Articles: Databases

Another type of secondary source is a scholarly journal article. These are much shorter than books, but also much more specific. You won't find a complete biography of Marco Polo in a scholarly journal article, but rather an analysis of a specific part of his life or work. Scholarly journal articles often have a thesis and a specific point of view, which is something to keep in mind as you read and take notes.

Here are two databases that contain scholarly journal articles:

Secondary Sources: Websites

You can also find some journal articles and secondary sources on websites.

However, not all websites are trustworthy and worthy of citation in your academic work. Be sure to consider who is responsible for a website, when and where it was created and updated, and for what purpose. Always ask your teacher or a librarian to vet a website before citing it in your paper.

Below are some websites with secondary source-type information that you can use in your research: