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HUMA-1301-Calderon: Before you start...

A Guide to resources for Humanities 1301 for Professor Calderon

Exploring Humanities

Welcome to the Humanities 1301 Resource Guide

Course Description: A multicultural, interdisciplinary introduction to the study of humankind’s cultural legacy in at least four of the disciplines of the humanities, which are approached individually, in synthesis with one or more of the others, or thematically: the visual arts, motion pictures, architecture, music, dance, philosophy, and literature as well as the social sciences, history, mathematics, medicine, physical sciences and communication as they have contributed to that cultural legacy. This course is writing and reading intensive.



Ask a Lee Librarian

How do you know what kind of sources to look for?

Some questions to ask yourself before you start your research:

  • Do I know enough about my topic to choose meaningful search terms?
    • Reference books such as encyclopedias are useful sources for learning basics about a topic before starting your research.
  • Does it matter how old your sources are?  
    • Should you use sources dating from the beginning of time to the present? 
    • Do you only want the most current information?
  • How specific is your topic? 
    • ​Are you giving a broad overview of the topic?
    • Do you need in-depth research on the topic?
  • Who counts as a credible writer on this topic?
    • Does the writer need to be an expert in the field?  What kind of credentials will prove that this person is an expert?
    • Is it okay for the writer to be a non-expert who cites his/her sources well?

Research Techniques

Before you begin searching for information, you must identify keywords related to your topic. Find keywords:

  • within your research question or thesis
  • in encyclopedias used in background research
  • in bibliographies found at the end of books and articles
  • in a thesaurus
  • by asking a librarian

When brainstorming keywords remember to ask yourself the who, what, when, where, and why of your topic.

Who is involved?

A specific age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender, etc.

What is the problem?

What is the issue facing the "who" in your topic? Health concerns, job and economic trends, contaminated drinking water? 

Where is it happening?

A specific country, region, city, physical environment, rural vs. urban, etc.

When is this happening?

Is this a current issue or an historical event? Will you discuss the historical development of a current problem?

Why is it happening / Why is this a problem?

You may want to focus on causes or argue the importance of this problem by outlining historical or current ramifications. Or you may decide to persuade your instructor and class why they should care about the issue.

The following publications can be found in the library databases with the exception of Internet Sites.  They each have strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of information you are seeking.

  • Internet Sites:
    • Most current information available
    • Least reliable
  • Newspapers:
    • Provide current information
    • Not always accurate
  • Popular Magazines:
    • Geared to the popular reader at an 8th grade level
    • Published weekly
    • Have lots of pictures
  • Trade publications:
    • Professional Association information in them
    • Continuing Education resources
    • Job Ads in the back of them
    • Published every other week or monthly
  • Scholarly publications:
    • Go through a peer review process
    • More reliable
    • Much slower publication rate

Searching for a phrase?

Putting it in quotation marks tells the search that you want that exact phrase, not just any of the words contained within it.

Ex: "genetically modified foods"  

"weight loss"


An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 100 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.


Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.


Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

What is the difference between a journal and an article?

  • In a research context when a professor asks for a journal they are usually referring to a scholarly periodical. For a definition of a scholarly periodical see below.
  • An article is a piece of writing included with others in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. Articles are what make up journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Scholarly Periodicals – Journals

  • written by and for researchers and scholars
  • includes full citations
  • peer-reviewed(articles are viewed by specialists before published)
  • authors are not paid
  • sometimes called academic articles or peer-reviewed articles

Popular Periodicals – Magazines

  • written by journalists or professional writers
  • rarely give citations
  • written for the general public
  • generally shorter articles
  • advertisements

Evaluating periodical sources

Each of these publication types have strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of information you are seeking.

  • Internet sites:
    • Potentially the most current information available.
    • Writers can be anyone.
    • Information may or may not be vetted -- you must evaluate carefully for reliability.
    • Varied publication schedule.
    • Content may be influenced by advertisers.
  • Newspapers:
    • Provides very current information.
    • Best source for local news and events.
    • Writers are usually journalists, not experts in the field.
    • Quick publication deadlines may prevent writers from guaranteeing accuracy.
    • Published daily or weekly
    • Content may be influenced by advertisers.
  • Popular magazines:
    • Geared to the popular reader, usually at a lower reading level than trade or scholarly materials.
    • Writers are usually journalists, not experts in the field.
    • Published weekly or monthly
    • Content may  be influenced by advertisers.
  • Trade publications:
    • Geared toward professionals in a certain field.
    • May contain professional association or continuing education resources
    • May contain job search resources
    • Usually published monthly
    • Ads are usually limited to products and services within the field of interest.
  • Scholarly or Peer-reviewed publications:
    • Articles are written and edited by experts in the field.
    • Higher reading level ; less attention to readability, more attention to content.
    • Slower publication rate -- Usually quarterly or biannually.
    • Citations should show which other researchers are important in this area of research.

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Will Mayer