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Lab Tales

Finding books

To find a book about your topic, you will need to search the library catalog.

You may try the "keyword" search.  This will return books whose title or description includes all the words you enter.  You may need to think of synonyms and try your search several times with different terms.   I suggest you include a discipline or subdiscipline and add "history".   E.g, microbiology history.   

Keep in mind that some books that address a wide swath of scientific knowledge may only indicate the largest descriptive word in the title.  So, a history of physics may also include astrophysics, but not mention astrophysics specifically.

Two other keyword searching tips:

1. If you are looking for a term that appears as a two-word phrase, e.g., "critical mass", search for it by enclosing the phrase in quotation marks.  The computer will only return results in which the two words appear in that order.   (This prevents false positives like items that are critical of Roman Catholic worship services).

2. If you are searching for a term that has both a noun and adjective form, like science and scientific, you can truncate the word using an asterisk, e.g., scien* .   The computer will return results that include any word that begins with the letters preceding the asterisk.



A search that produces fewer results, but hopefully results that are more targeted, is "Subject (keyword)".  To address the problem of different authors using different words for the same idea (e.g., a British author may write about aluminium while an American author will say aluminum), librarians have assembled an official list of "subject terms".  These are assigned to the book in a field called "Subject" that is found in each catalog record.  You can find the official subject term by doing a keyword search, finding a book on your topic, and looking in the Subject field.

I suggest you do a Subject search by the discipline and add History.

Journal Articles

The following indexes will point you to journal articles related to the history of science.   

Making sense of citations in Chicago style

When you consult books or articles in the library, you will encounter footnotes or endnotes that provide citations to other works that may be of interest to you.   When you wish to find that other work in the library, it is necessary to understand what type of publication is being cited.   You will need to use different tools to find different types of material.

Fortunately, the citations offer important clues to tell you which kind of material is being cited.


Journal articles:  Journals are issued in numbered volumes and issues within those volumes (for example, all journal issues published from January-December are in volume 12; each monthly publication has an issue number.)  Articles in journals are noted with three important pieces of information.   The title of the article is in quotation marks, the title of the journal is in italics, and the volume and issue number are given.  The numbers following the colon are page numbers.  (You may see a citation in either of the following formats.)   To search for journal articles, type the author's name and the article title into "Articles+".

Newspaper and magazine articles:  Newspapers and popular magazines usually do not have volume and issue numbers.  Therefore, the citation only indicates the date of the newspaper.  The title of the article is in quotation marks, the title of the newspaper or magazine is in italics, and the date is given.  The numbers following the date are page numbers.  To find a newspaper article, search for the name of the newspaper in the Catalog, then follow the links.  Consult a librarian if you need help.

Books:  Scholarly books are called "monographs" when they are published as stand-alone titles (not part of a series.)  The clue that a monograph is being cited is that the title is in italics, and place of publication and the name of the publisher are given.  To find a monograph, search for the title in the Catalog.  The number after the parenthesis is a page number.

Chapters in Books:  Some books are not written by a single author, but rather are collections of chapters by various authors.  The person who collects the chapters is called the editor.  The clues that a chapter is being cited is that the chapter title is in quotes, the editor is named, and the book title is in italics.  To find a chapter, search for the title of the whole book in the Catalog.

Book in a series:  Some books are part of a larger set; for example, a cited work could be the fourth volume in a series.  The clue that a book in a series is being cited is that a volume number precedes the page number.  To find a volume of a series, search for the title of the whole series in the Catalog.