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LIB 250: Humanities Research Sources and Strategies: Home

Short URL for this course guide

There's also a link in Sakai.

Course Textbook (optional)

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print (plus website access with purchase of print).

Print copies are available in ZSR Library (Reference desk, 4th level Wilson wing), and at the Bookstore.

Note that this is a new edition, published in Fall 2009. We'll be looking at changes in the rules that have been introduced in the new edition.

For this course, you will be required to cite your sources using MLA 7th edition.

Course Description & Objectives

This half-semester course provides students with an understanding of the resources and strategies necessary for doing research in the humanities.

The following fields are covered:

  • Literature and languages
  • Classics
  • Religion
  • Philosopy
  • History
  • Art
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Dance

Topics covered include:

  • strategies for developing research projects
  • identification and evaluation of resources available in each discipline
  • characteristics of humanistic scholarship and communication.

Objectives of the course:
By the end of the course, students will demonstrate an understanding of:

  • what print and electronic resources are available through ZSR Library catalog and how to locate them
  • which databases are relevant to humanities disciplines and how to use them
  • how to access resources in other institutional and scholarly collections
  • what role professional associations and organizations play in the humanities and what they offer
  • what research processes are distinctive to the humanities
  • how the critical evaluation of resources allows the researcher to recognize exemplary research in the humanities
  • what role primary sources and historical research have in humanities scholarship
  • how to locate scholarly web resources in the humanities

What WFU faculty say about research skills

Following are some skills that faculty have told us they wish students would improve upon:

Citations: "Students should be taught how to do this before beginning the research process." "Be more thorough when acknowledging sources. It is not only scholarly, but polite."

"The capacity to follow leads. Often I see students stumped when a query yields no information, but they don't know how to modify their search. Nor do they understand how browsing through the Library of Congress subject headings might yield information -- or that they could follow through on  "see also" references when they're looking something up. Zeroing in on those little clues can really open up a research effort."

"I'd like to see them get in the stacks and look at actual books more, rather than relying primarily on online resources.  I'd like to see them engage more critically with published scholarship."

"I wish they would become more careful readers -- even in research, people get it wrong. A close, critical attention, and a more critical attitude toward what they're reading. The internet is a mixed blessing; there is a lot of garbage, but there are also great, wonderful resources."

"Take finding sources more seriously."

"Analyzing primary sources."

"Critically assess sources: what is the source, what is the motive of the author, what is the truth behind their work? In writing papers, ask how would someone else critique this, what questions would they ask?"

"Learn to manage information overload on the internet -- for instance, by using Google Scholar [which limits to scholarly sources]. Don't become too focused on the individual facts instead of the larger context."

"Students tend to be easily satisfied with information that doesn't necessarily dig into a topic. Delve in past the surface information."

 "Finding primary sources that are personal individuals' diaries or memoires to fully grasp the true history" of a particular time period.

"There's a world of possibility beyond this library or any single library"; tapping other libraries' resources by using tools like WorldCat, and services like interlibrary loan.

"Developing a good research question; knowing how to devise and validate it."

"Need to use up-to-date scholarly sources, as opposed to Google."

"Questioning the sources; the source is an active object that can provide more answers."

We'll be addressing these points in the course.

Research Guides to Indivdual Disciplines

These research guides are available in ZSR Library's Reference Department (4th floor, Wilson wing).


Marmor, Max and Alex Ross. Guide to the Literature of Art History 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005. Ref N380 G951 2005


Harner, James L. Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies. 5th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2008. Ref PR83 H27 2008.


Gottlieb, Jane. Music Library and Research Skills. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Pearson, 2009. Ref ML3797 G68 2009 (also in main stacks).

Bayne, Pauline Shaw. A Guide to Library Research in Music. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 2008. Ref ML3797 B29 2008 (also in main stacks).

Crabtree, Philip D. and Donald H. Foster. Sourcebook for Research in Music. 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. Ref ML113 C68 2005 (also in main stacks).

Duckles, Vincent H. Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography. 5th ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997. Ref ML113 D83 1997.

Wingell, Richard. Writing about Music: An Introductory Guide. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 2002. Ref ML3797 W54 2002.

Irvine, Demar. Irvine’s Writing about music. 3rd ed. Portland, Or.: Amadeus Press, 1999. Ref ML3797 I79 1999.


Barber, Cyril and Robert M. Krauss, Jr. An Introduction to Theological Research: A Guide for College and Seminary Students. 2nd rev. ed. Lanham, MD: University of America P, 2000. In Main Stacks:BR118 B28 2000

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