Category Archives: Weekly Assignments

Weekly Assignment #13 (last one)

By midnight on Wednesday, December 13, please locate an archival collection related to your topic. Write an annotation summarizing the collection and evaluating its potential usefulness for your paper. Use any or all the following resources:

An online finding aid, if there is one, will give you a great deal of information about the collection that you can use for your annotation’s summary. You can sometimes find these by following links from the databases, but you can also Google the name of the collection (e.g., “Ernest Hemingway papers”) plus the keywords “finding aid” or “inventory.” You might also try going to the library / repository’s own website and searching their catalog or website.

Also, just for fun, you might want to check out the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. If you’re looking for an old website or a previous version of a current one, this is about your only option.

And yes: you can include archival sources (or finding aids to them) in your annotated bibliography!


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Weekly Assignment #12

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Weekly Assignment #8

By midnight of the day before the next class, please submit a chronological list of journal articles and books related to your topic that form what we might call a “citation chain” or simply a “scholarly conversation” — you’re looking for works that cite each other, in short. To generate this list, please find the oldest relevant journal article that you can and follow it forward as far as you can by using the “cited by” link in Google Scholar and the “Cited Reference Search” in Web of Science. List as many articles as you like that are both useful to you and within six degrees of separation of that original article. (Not all articles on the list must cite that original article; some can cite articles that cite that original article.)

Annotations are not required this week, but if you like, you can write a paragraph describing your search experience — I always enjoy reading those — and/or discussing any interesting information you got by, for instance, pressing the “analyze” button in Web of Science. Any surprises as to how many times an article is or is not cited?


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Weekly Assignment #10

This week, please find two citations for dissertations or theses related to your topic and write two paragraphs evaluating their usefulness or potential usefulness to you. (You may not be able to get a copy very quickly, although you can use Tripsaver, aka interlibrary loan, to order one if you’d like to read it.) It’s true that you can find theses and dissertations using Google Scholar, but there’s no good way to limit your search to just these genres. A much better option for this assignment is to use the Dissertation Abstracts database, which is the definitive resource for finding dissertations.

Try to find the best theses for your research, not the most easily accessible ones. But do also take a look at dissertations and theses written at NCSU. You can search for them in the library catalog by limiting to “theses and dissertations,” then quickly lay your hands on a readable copy by visiting Special Collections (in the case of pre-1997 works) or by clicking on a full-text PDF (for most works after 1997) stored in NCSU’s Electronic Theses and Dissertations database. There aren’t that many items in the ETD database, but on the plus side, you can get the material fast.

Note that your own master’s thesis, like Melanie Sue Hair’s “The Literary Merit of Young Adult Novels: Are They as Good as the Classics?”, will show up there someday soon, and, because it’s in a freely available online database, the whole thing will also be freely available to the world via Google and Google Scholar unless you specifically request that it be withheld for a time (this is called an “embargo”). Neither Dissertation Abstracts nor Amazon indexes Melanie’s thesis, but take a look at David Alejandro Cardenas’s 2005 dissertation Measurement of Involvement Factors in Leisure Studies Doctoral Programs, which is indexed by DA, by our catalog, by the ETD database, and by Google Scholar, with its full text freely available — or, of course, you can get it through Amazon for $69.99.

Other relevant links:

  • NCSU Graduate School’s Thesis and Dissertation Guide — I looked here for exact information on who exactly owns the copyright of your thesis, but to no avail. What I think is that you retain most of the copyright to your work (“copyright” is really a bundle of rights), but that you sign a waiver at some point that allows both NCSU and UMI the right to distribute copies of it but does not allow them to block publication of your work elsewhere. Note that the section on “Copyrighting and Microfilming” is mostly concerned with copyrighted material in your work; this is because UMI and NCSU are effectively publishing your work, and they don’t want to be sued by other copyright holders. Note too a work need not be registered with the Copyright Office in order to be copyrighted, a distinction that is not at ll clear in this guide.
  • ProQuest / UMI’s Dissertation Publishing webpage — You can read here about ProQuest’s business deals with Google and Amazon and about the Open Access publishing option, which (I learned) costs $95.

What exactly counts as a publication in this day and age, anyway?


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Weekly Assignment #9

For this week’s assignment, please do your best to identify two major journals in your field and/or the field relevant to your question. You might want to use the MLA Directory of Periodicals for this, or you might want to ask a scholar to recommend two prominent journals, or you might want to choose two journals that have been cropping up repeatedly in your research.

Describe and evaluate both these journals, making sure to include at least

  • The scholarly “mission” of the journal — its approach, its partisan affiliation, its critical orientation;
  • Whether it is peer-reviewed;
  • How often it comes out;
  • When it was founded; and
  • Who publishes the journal.

You should find this information near the beginning of any print or electronic issue. Please DO NOT copy and paste unattributed boilerplate descriptions of the journal. You may, of course, quote and cite portions of this text.

I also recommend that you visit the publisher’s website and see whether you can subscribe to an RSS feed for this journal. Critical Inquiry, for example, offers a feed of its latest issue, while other journals will often feed you their tables of contents.
If you ever plan to publish any of your research, it would also be a great idea to subscribe now to a journal that really sparks your interest, so that you can get a comprehensive sense of what sorts of things they publish.

Also, our library has set up an Alerts service that allows you to get journal tables of contents in your email, but it doesn’t look like this service includes many humanities journals yet.


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Weekly Assignment #7

The assignment this week isn’t due until the week after next, as neither the Tuesday class nor the Thursday class will meet next week due to Fall Break.

By midnight of the day before the next class, please do both of the following:

  • Find a print reference work related to your topic by searching the NCSU Libraries catalog. Include a full citation, and annotate this as usual with a paragraph that both describes the source and evaluates its usefulness for you. Include in your description such key information as whether the work is issued serially (e.g., every five years), how it is arranged, and any special features.
  • Find an electronic reference work (not the MLA Bibliography nor Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts) that contains information relevant to your topic by searching the NCSU Libraries website. In your paragraph of description and evaluation, please try to include such key information as its scope (e.g., what it includes), how many records/entries the work includes, how often it is updated, and how far back it goes (e.g., the online MLA Bibliography now dates back to the 1920s, farther back than the print version). Be sure to get this information from within the database itself, as the database descriptions on the Libraries’ website may be out of date.

To find print reference books in the catalog, remember that you can click on the “Genre” facets on the left-hand side to limit to Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and so on. You can also go to the Advanced Search page and leave only the “Reference Works” box checked. To find electronic reference works, you can start with the Browse Subjects Reference Tools tab, but you may well find untold treasures just by searching the catalog or browsing the alphabetical list of databases. If you like, you may also look for a database available at UNC or Duke but not at NCSU.


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Weekly Assignment #6

Mea culpa! So sorry I didn’t post the assignment. Here it is, and you may post your responses when you can.

Please do one or both of the following:

  • Find 1-2 “new model” digital scholarly projects online that are related (however loosely) to your topic. Describe and evaluate the usefulness of the scholarly project(s) as usual, but please also look for and mention evidence that the scholarly project is in fact scholarly. Who is the primary scholar responsible for it? Does it have an editorial board? Is it peer-reviewed in some fashion? Is it associated with a particular university, center, institute, foundation, or university press?
  • Do a keyword search related to your topic on Google and then on 1-2 other search engines and describe the differences between the Google results and the other results (please say which keywords you used).

Other search engines you might try include Vivisimo and Dogpile. See also Wikipedia’s list of search engines. If you can get it to work, there’s also fascinating information to be had at Thumbshots Ranking.


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