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EN 115 - all sections: REIMAGINING THE ESSAY


AmongThe Sierra Nevada, Bierstadt

Think Strategically about Your Research


  • Looking up background information first can save you time later - use Credo Reference

  • Search for books in any of Colby's catalogs, expanding your search with subject linking

  • Investigate the notes and bibliographies of every good source you find for leads to more

  • Think about what sorts of publications the information you need might be published in


As you skim the article, you notice the name Hetch Hetchy, which you recall from your reading of William Cronon's essay.

You decide to look it up in Credo. Among the results, your eye is caught by Document 68, which includes an excerpt from a letter by John Muir to Theodore Roosevelt about the Hetch Hetchy.

Looking at the brief bibliography at the foot of the page, you see that the entire letter may be found in: William Frederic Bade, ed., The Life and Letters of John Muir, Vol. 2 (Cambridge, MA, 1924).

When you type this title into OneSearch, limiting to Books, you find that Bates has a copy of this book, which you can request. 

If you need help with anything, don't hesitate to contact me:                              






Reality TV - book at Bowdoin: Reality TV by Misha Kavka. Follow this link to  the record and request from Bowdoin.  This book is at Colby: Reality TV: audiences and popular factual television and so is Reality TV: the work of being watched.  Notice subject lines in the records for these books. One of them includes the phrase "social aspects," which seems like it might be helpful.  So when you go to Academic Search Complete to look for articles,  type "reality TV" into one search box and "social aspects" into another. Use the quotation marks to search for the phrase, not just the separate words. The icons next to entries in this database will tell you whether the article is academic or not. I also found some results in academic journals by searching in MLA International Bibliography for "reality TV" and audience*, where the truncating asterisk asks the system to search for both audience and audiences at once. Try this search in ProQuest Newspapers, too, for a more journalistic, in-the-moment view of the topic.

Prescription Drugs; ADHD - a couple of streaming videos at Colby: Pill Poppers [electronic resource (video)] : Miracles, Mysteries, and Misfires of Prescription Drugs and The Drugging of our children [electronic resource (video)] : inside the ADHD controversy / Null, Gar, Try OneSearch (Libraries' Home page) with the search: "prescription drugs" ADHD. Pay attention to the source of the articles  in these results: newspaper or journal - and if the latter, what type of journal?  What is the title?  Notice that you can use the lefthand sidebar to limit to newspapers, to books, or to journal articles - which you can further limit to scholarly publications.  Among the books available are Making ADHD a Gift: Teaching Superman how to Fly, at Bowdoin, The Medicalization of Society, at Colby, and No Child Left Different, at Bates. Specific medication-names, such as Ritalin, can also be used in searches; these will tend to bring up more technical, scientific articles, but some are accessible to non-scientists, too: I found "Ritalin for Whom?" in Academic Search Complete. Pay attention to subject headings in records, whether in Colby catalogs or in databases, and use them in further searching.

Consequences of the Afghan-Soviet War -  Begin by browsing encyclopedia articles in the Credo Reference database. Use terms and names you notice in these articles to search in CBBcat and databases. A search for "Soviet-Afghan war" retrieves records for a number of books in CBBcat, including: Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism Look at the subject lines in records, such as: Terrorism Afghanistan History 20th century, Afghanistan History Soviet occupation, 1979-1989, and Afghanistan Politics and government 1989-2001. The Afghanistan Wars is a fairly recent book surveying conflicts in Afghanistan over a span of time. You can find articles in Academic Search Complete with a search for "Soviet-Afghan war." Some examples: "The Soviet experience in Afghanistan: lessons to be learned?", "Parallels with the Past" and "The Societ-Afghan War, an Overview."

President Polk - You could begin either with American National Biography Online (search by Name: Polk, James Know) or with CQ Electronic Library, which you can find by title in the Colby Catalog. Once you have connected to the database, click on Advanced Search, then click the button beside Search Only Specific Collections, and in the right hand column select The Presidency A to Z Online Edition and Vital Statistics on the Presidency Online Edition. Then type "James K. Polk" (with the quotation marks) into the search box. In the list of results that comes up, click on the title to see the article or list of data. This one is a brief bio of President Polk. You may find it interesting to search in the Colby Catalog by title for James K. Polk. This will bring up several 19th-century books available electronically. A few more books may be found by searching the Colby Catalog by subject for Polk, James K. To find articles, look in Academic Search Complete for  "James K. Polk" and look for Academic articles. Remember to click on either the PDF icon or the little box labelled, Full Text, to get to the article. One example is: "The Policy-Driven Leadership of James K. Polk: Making the Most of a Weak Presidency."




Use MLA style to create citations in the humanities.

"What is the purpose of citations?"

Citations show the research path someone took to develop an idea, and they provide leads for other researchers to discover information in related resources.

  "When do I need to cite?"

   Of course you need to cite when you directly quote someone else, but it's also important to cite when you refer to another person's ideas or when you outline someone else's argument or line of reasoning.

EXAMPLE of MLA Style on a Works Cited page for an article retrieved from a database:

Hull, Simon P. "Spellbinding London: Charles Lamb's 'Elia' and the Old Country House." Studies

in Romanticism 48.1 (2009): 121-38. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 November 2012.

thus the formula is:

Author. "Title of Article." Title of Journal  volume #. issue # (year): Name of Database. Web. Date

of access [day month year].

MORE EXAMPLES and explanations at Purdue's OWL site:                                  


Karen Gillum
Humanities Research Librarian

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  *Results of search by Subject for Carson, Rachel, limited by Content Types: Journal Article + Book/EBook


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Of special note:

Colby's Special Collections holds a short A.L.S. (autograph letter, signed) written by Charles Darwin to M. Sabatier in 1873. If you would like to see it, just ask!


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