Monday, May 27, 2013

Reference: social sciences: subject information sources

Subject information sources
  • A subject reference source can be defined as a publication in which items of information about one particular subject…are brought together from many sources and arranged so that individual items can be found quickly and easily.(Gates. Guide to the Use of Libraries and Information Sources. 7th ed. 1994, p. 159)
  • Provide specialized definitions and explanations for words and phrases not found in general word dictionaries
    • The more specific a definition, the less likely it will be found in a general word dictionary
  • Trace the growth of important ideas in a subject area
  • Provide an introduction to the development of the literature of a subject
    • E.g. bibliography
  • Give authoritative information on major questions and issues in a specialized area
  • Explain and clarify concepts
  • Locate, describe and evaluate the literature of the field
  • Provide facts which indicate trends and they summarize the events of a given year in a given subject field (Gates. Guide to the Use of Libraries and Information Sources. 7th ed. 1994, p. 159)
    • E.g. Annual, yearbook
Subject information sources: kinds and purposes

  • Bibliographies and guides
    • Point out literature in question
    • Provide descriptive and evaluative information not included in catalog record and point out library materials not listed in catalogue, e.g. periodical articles, parts of books
    • Arrange works according to form: dictionaries, histories, encyclopaedias, handbooks, indexes and books of criticism (in literature field)
      • Sample titles:
      • Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature
      • A Reader’s Guide to the Great Religions
  • Indexes
    • Indicate where periodical articles on a subject can be found
    • Indicate collections in which plays, short stories, essays and poems can be found
    • Analyze books and parts of books
      • Sample titles:
      • Short Story Index
      • Art Index
  • Abstracts (a brief digest or summary which gives the essential points of an article, pamphlet, book, monograph, or report)
    • Abstracts contain more information and descriptions than can be found in indexes. This helps the reader decide if they want to read the material, if the title doesn’t reflect its content. Examples of abstracts include ERIC and Ebsco.
    • Abstract journal: a collection of abstracts in a particular field, include bibliographic info to find work as do indexes
    • Usually gives researcher enough information to decide if entire work should be consulted
    • If non-English language work abstract may be in English or original language of work
      • Sample titles:
      • Historical Abstracts
      • Psychological Abstracts
  • Dictionaries
    • Provide specialized definitions and explanations of terminology and concepts
    • Help to establish terminology
    • Serve as a guide to current as well as historical usage of words and phrases
    • Give short, concise answers to questions
    • May give chronology
    • May give biographical information
    • May give pronunciation
      • Sample title:
      • Harvard Dictionary of Music
  • Encyclopaedias
    • Give summary treatment of the different phases and aspects of a subject
    • Explain historical backgrounds, trends, and the influence of events outside the subject area, such as the influence of social conditions on the literature of the period
    • Trace the development of ideas in a subject field
      • Sample titles:
      • Encyclopedia of World Art
      • The Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Handbooks and manuals
    • Identify references, allusions, dates, quotations and characters in literature
    • Summarize literary points
    • Provide statistics and useful bits of information
    • Give instructions in specialized areas
      • Sample titles:
      • The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature
      • Halliwell’s Film & Video guide
  • Yearbooks and annuals
    • Summarize events of the past year, including research projects undertaken and completed
    • Provide a source for hard-to-locate items of information
      • Sample titles:
      • The Mental Measurements Yearbook
      • The Bowker Annual
  • Collections (anthologies)
    • Bring together in one place selections or quotations from essays, poetry, drama, short stories, periodicals and other forms of literature
    • Serve as source materials for courses in literature, history, education, psychology, and other subject fields
      • Sample titles:
      • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
      • Documents in British History
  • Atlases and gazetteers
    • Provide geographical information in any subject area in maps, text, or both
    • Give overall picture emphasizing location of industries, products, literature
      • Sample titles:
      • Oxford Bible Atlas
      • British History Atlas
  • Biographical dictionaries
    • Provide concise information about important persons in a subject field: authors, scholars, scientists, educators
    • May include bibliographies and evaluations of an author’s work
      • Sample titles:
      • Twentieth Century Authors
      • Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians
  • Reference histories give factual information, trends, and main facts of development, covering
    • Chronology
    • Interpretation of events
    • Biographical data
    • Bibliographical information
      • Sample titles:
      • The Oxford History of English Literature
      • The Cambridge History of American Literature
  • Professional journals provide up-to-date articles, essays, book reviews, and other material relating specifically to the subject matter of a given branch of knowledge
    • Sample titles:
    • The Canadian Historical Review
    • Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • Online sources
    • Online versions of many of the foregoing resources exist
    • When using Web resources be sure to evaluate the site’s authority, accuracy/quality, objectivity, currency, and coverage
  • “The theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on the campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things…”
    --Richard Phillips Feynman (1918-88), American physicist, shared Nobel – quantam electrodynamics 
  • “America has not always been kind to its artists and scholars. Somehow the scientists always seem to get the penthouse while the arts and humanities get the basement.”
    -- Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-73), 36th US President, Democrat
  • No single authoritative definition for the Humanities.
  • “Imagine a world in which you were unable to write; imagine a world in which you were unable to read; imagine a world in which you were unable to look at any pictures; imagine a world in which you were unable to hear any music; imagine a world where you knew nothing of other cultures so you did not know where you wanted to travel; imagine a world in which you could not imagine, in which there were no novels or plays, there was no science fiction, there was no poetry. Imagine a world in which there were no values, in which the words love, justice, equality, right, wrong, good and evil did not exist. Imagine a world in which there were no theodicies. Finally, imagine a world without all these things. That would be a world without the humanities.” 

    Kate Stimpson, “The Humanities in Everyday Life” in Hilda Smith, ed. The Humanities and Civic Responsibility (Washington, D.C.: Council of Chief State School Officers, 1986), 33-47.

  • “Humans “tall, dance, sing, paint, praise the beauties of their beloved; they tell stories, maintain legends, build monuments, try to discover facts, live by rules, make choices between better and worse, complain about injustice; they puzzle over the mysterious ways of God and man. And all these activities human beings bring passion.” The Humanities are the “disciplines that comment on and appraise such activities, that reflect on their meaning and seek to clarify the standards by which they should be judged.”
Charles Frankel
  • “Beyond university walls, the humanities moonlight. They engage citizens in literature discussions at public libraries; in re-creations of history at museums; and in debating civic, ethical, and community issues at public forums nationwide. The humanities inform videotapes on public television, dramatizations at historic places, interpretations at archaeological sites, and talks exploring performances of music and theatre. More Americans attend museums and historic sites than sporting events.”

Naomi F. Collins. Culture’s New Frontier: Stalking a Common Ground.

  • “The humanities are the stories, the ideas, and the words that help us make sense of our lives and our world. The humanities introduce us to people we have never met, places we have never visited, and ideas that may have never crossed our minds. By showing how others have lived and thought about life, the humanities help us decide what is important in our own lives and what we can do to make them better. By connecting us with other people, they point the way to answers about what is right or wrong, or what is true to our heritage and our history. The humanities help us address the challenges we face together in our families, our communities, and as a nation.”
Ohio Humanities Council. What Are The Humanities?

Humanities Social sciences
Art Anthropology
Literature Business and economics
Music Education
Philosophy Political Science
Religion Psychology

Humanities are considered to be Liberal or Fine Arts, or traditional subjects. Sometimes you have to think about which subject is being analysed, and perhaps double check because this can affect where you may find information. History, for example, includes information regarding dates, names, stories, battles and well-known and political battles. You also have to consider what actually happened, and the cause and effect of such events.

Characteristics of scholarly humanities literature and its users
  • Question of value
    • Is this right?
  • Individualistic
    • Tendency to work along
    • Pursuing passion
    • Person’s interpretation
  • Lack of standardized/controlled vocabulary
    • Under numerous terms
  • Library=laboratory
    • Read to formulate opinion
  • Preference for books/pamphlets
    • Tendency
    • Numerous books on topics
  • Web increasing in importance
    • Communication
    • Projects
  • Greater spread of individual titles used
  • Browsing important

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