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HIST 344J: The Middle East before Oil: Find Scholarly Articles & Books

course guide for HIST 344J (Spring 2020), taught by Camille Cole

Start here to find resources for your paper:

Scholarly databases are created to help you find scholarly journal articles. It's essential to use them when doing research for papers; without them you risk missing important scholarly articles that relate to your topic. Scholarly databases will give you a smaller number of search results than a Google search, and it's easy to limit your results to articles that are peer-reviewed.

You can use Quicksearch to find books, journal articles, archival materials and other items held by Yale. Any book held by the Yale University Libraries can be delivered to a pickup location of your choice (usually within 24 hours). We have created this page to provide assistance with using Quicksearch.

Help is available! Robin Dougherty, the librarian for this course, can help you come up with search terms and strategies. Contact her at roberta.dougherty@yale.edu to ask a quick question, or make an appointment for a longer consultation.

Choosing Search Terms

Choose search terms that you expect to find in written documents about your topic. 

If you're looking for secondary sources (including journal articles or books written by scholars), use the language you would expect to find in a scholarly publication. 

If you're looking for sources aimed at the public (newspapers, TV news transcripts, blogs), use more colloquial language when searching.

Here are some other ideas to consider:

  • Synonyms, technical terms
  • Transliterations and alternate spellings
  • Alternate or historical place names (e.g. Bombay / Mumbai)
  • Maiden names
  • Initials and full names
  • British spellings
  • Spellings and terms in use during the time period or in the region/country
  • Abbreviations vs. full words

Once you have found a few sources on your topic, take note of the language that is being used and incorporate it into your search.

Start here to find books:

How to Find a Book:
  1. Search Quicksearch Books+ or Orbis to find books on your topic. What is the difference?
  2. Once you've found a book that looks relevant, find the Call Number and note the Location. This stacks guide (.jpg file) will tell you where to find the book in the library.
  3. If the Location is "LSF," the book is in storage--click on the link "Request Recall or Delivery." This initiates a CAS-authenticated session which allows you to request delivery to a pick-up location of your choice.
Narrow Your Search Results Geographically:

In Quicksearch:

  1. Search for a keyword that relates to your topic (e.g. "trafficking").
  2. Click the link for Books+ on the left-hand side of the screen. This will bring you to a set of search results with limits on the left-hand side of the page.
  3. Scroll down and find the Subject (Region) limit, then limit by a region (e.g. Middle East) or a specific country (e.g. Iraq).
Use One Good Book to Find Others:

When you've located a relevant book, these strategies can help you to find additional related works:

  1. Search by the subject headings you find in the book's Quicksearch or Orbis records--this will help you find other books on the same topic, classified with the same subject heading. (view example)
  2. Consult the book's bibliography and use Quicksearch, Orbis, and library databases to track down some of the sources that author cited.
How to Use Subject Headings:

Sample subject headings include:

  • Petroleum industry and trade > Government policy > Saudi Arabia
  • Economic development > Political aspects > Saudi Arabia
  • Bureaucracy > Saudi Arabia
  • Patron and client > Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia > Economic policy
  • Saudi Arabia > Politics and government

To search directly for a subject heading:

  • Click on the last element of the subject-heading string in the book you have displayed in Quicksearch (in Orbis, simply click on the linked subject heading).

More Resources for Finding Scholarly Articles

If you can't find scholarly articles that discuss the topic you're interested in, you can try these other resources to expand your options. Don't hesitate to contact Robin Dougherty (librarian for this course) at roberta.dougherty@yale.edu for help with choosing search terms and getting databases to work well.