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Anthropology: Anthropology Research Quick Guide

The purpose of this guide is to recommend print and electronic resources for conducting research in anthropology in the Library.

Finding Sources

LIBRARY RESEARCH METHODS IN BRIEF (Longer Version)
 
  • KEYWORD search to find relevant or interesting sources
  • Look for SUBJECT terms in relevant books and articles; click on or search those
  • READ or SKIM abstracts, ToC, introductions, and bibliographies
  • Find relevant sources CITED within sources and read or skim them
  • REPEAT for every topic
  • Look for the scholarly conversation
 
SEARCHING FOR SOURCES
 
Anthropology Journal Articles
  • Anthropology Plus (anthropology articles; broader search, no full text searching)
  • AnthroSource (anthropology articles; narrower search, full text searching)
  • ‚ÄčGoogle Scholar (Try the "cited by” feature, Search within citations)
  • Web of Science (Try Cited Reference Search / Related Articles / Shared References)

Anthropology Review Articles, Handbooks, and Bibliographies (Good for theory, background, and context)

Books (Anthropology books are at call# range: GN)
  • Catalog (Search books and journals at Princeton)
  • WorldCat (Search books at other libraries)
 
GETTING BOOKS AND ARTICLES PUL DOES NOT HAVE
 
MANAGING SOURCES
 
USING THE LIBRARY OFF CAMPUS
 
 

Finding a Scholarly Conversation

  • Search for recent scholarly books or articles as focused on your topic as possible. Review or “handbook” articles and scholarly encyclopedia entries make good starting places if available.
  • Stop searching and skim/read the books or articles for especially interesting or relevant parts that cite other scholars. Look for authors discussing other authors, not just publications listed in a bibliography.
  • Find the cited books or articles and skim/read them for especially interesting or relevant parts that cite other scholars.
  • Repeat until you start seeing connections among scholars, publications, themes, theories, etc.
  • To go forward in the “conversation,” use the Google Scholar “Cited By” feature to see who has cited the most useful books or articles.
  • Also try Web of Science: Cited Reference Search / Related Articles / Shared References

When Your Topic Doesn't Have Much Anthropology Lit to Review

Strategies for an Anthropology Literature Review When There Isn't Much Anthropology Literature on Your Topic:

  • Analyze fewer anthropology sources more deeply. Work with what you have.
  • Review any tangentially related anthropology literature .
  • Broaden your context until there’s enough anthropology literature to review.
  • Bring in relevant non-anthropological literature as needed (e.g., public health in medical anthropology), but don’t make that the only focus of your review. Use the anthropology as a lens to view the other literature.
  • Find theoretical sources through the practical sources.
  • Find scholars in conversation with each other.
  • Remember: there are no bad sources, only bad ways to use them.

Reviewing the Literature

From Shan-Estelle Brown. Writing in Anthropology: a Brief Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

REVIEWING THE LITERATURE

  • First Look at the Title and Identify Its Key Words
  • Review the Abstract
  • Examine the Structure
  • Identify the Purpose
  • Ask the Essential Questions:
  • What is the Question, Controversy, or Problem Driving the Study?
  • Who or What Group was Being Studied
  • How was the Study Executed? What Method was Used? What Kind of Study was Done?
  • What Questions were Addressed or Asked in the Study to Generate Data?
  • What was Found in the Study? What were the Results of the Study? Why did the Scientists They they Found what they Found?
  • How does this study—in its Methods as well as in the Findings it Shares—Relate to other Relevant or Potential Studies?


DEVELOPING YOUR ARGUMENT
To move from a series of summaries to an argument, ask yourself the following:

  • What is my specific problem or research question?
  • How does each source relate to it?
  • What type of literature review am I conducting?
  • Am I seeing trends in theory, in methods, within the work of specific researchers, in findings across sources? What can I say about the trend?
  • What unexpected findings or patterns emerged as I read across the literature?
  • Are there contradictions or telling points of disagreement in the literature?
  • Where do I stand on the specific debates under way among the authors of the sources?