This Research Guide is designed to provide resource suggestion and research help related to the IDIS 151 Honors Experiencing Appalachia project.
This guide covers:
Keywords (or search terms) are single words or short phrases that describe the core concepts of your topic.
It's important to use keywords, especially when searching library databases, because library database search engines are not designed to pick out the most important words from an entire sentence.
Examples of keywords to use. Example topic - 19th century Appalachian crops:
Developing alternative keywords is especially helpful when searching library databases. In the same what that library database search engines can't identity the most important concepts in a full sentence, they also (generally) aren't able to automatically search for synonyms of your search terms in the text. (Google CAN do this, which is why Google is very helpful when you are first starting your research and looking for alternative keywords!)
Alternative keywords can be:
Searching is never a "one-and-done" process! You will have to try a combination of different keywords, in different resources to find sufficient sources. As you search, note alternative keywords that you come across and try another search using those.
Library databases generally search for the exact words you enter. This means, if you enter a phrase, such as Civil War, it will search for each term separately, civil and war.
To let the database know you are looking for a phrase, put it in quotation marks. This tells the database to search for the exact phrase as it occurs between the quotes. Use this only for common phrases and names, otherwise you may get zero results.
Example: "civl war"
You can search for alternative keywords in a single search by using OR between the words. This tells the database to bring back results with either word. This is useful for plurals, alternate spellings or names, or broader concepts.
Example: corn OR moonshine OR cornbread
Primary sources: sources that were created in the time period you are investigating that are considered “first hand” accounts such as newspapers, diaries, and interviews. Oral history interviews are another type of primary source, though they may not be created in the time period you are investigating, they often feature first hand accounts from people sharing stories and traditions passed down
Secondary sources: sources that use primary (or other secondary) sources to summarize, synthesize, and analyze a topic or issue. Authors of secondary sources generally do not have first hand experience with the topic or time period and create secondary sources based on their own research.
You can only find what exists. Depending on the topic, there may not be vast amounts of primary or secondary source research, especially if it revolves around a place, group of people, or practice that has been overlooked or marginalized by society.
You may also be limited by what is easily accessible, especially when it comes to primary sources, which are usually kept in archives and special collections. These sources may not be available digitally, either due to legal restrictions or the time and money it takes to digitize and host these resources online.
Interlibrary Loan lets you request resources, including books and articles, that are not available through the Ort Library. You can request sources you find through the library or online.