Searching for reviews in JSTOR, Project Muse, and other databases
JSTOR (“journal storage”) is a collection of full-text journals online. It is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of nearly 400 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) up to about 2000 (recent issues excluded). To get to JSTOR, go to the “Quick Links” (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/hix/history_website/quicklinks.htm) on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to “Online Resources” from the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/) and type JSTOR in the search box from the “Article Indexes & Abstracts” tab. Several major historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as
Journal of Interdisciplinary History Journal of Modern History
American Historical Review Journal of Contemporary History
Historical Journal Past and Present
English Historical Review History and Theory
Because it is a collection of digitized texts rather than an abstracting/indexing service (and does not employ subject descriptors), careful selection of search terms and fields is essential. In the absence of subject headings, subject searches are built on keywords, so it is essential to try several different approaches for any given topic. Note that only about 10% of the articles in JSTOR have abstracts, so limiting your search term to the abstracts might cause you to miss relevant material. When a Boolean keyword search produces a large set of results, try using the proximity (“near”) operator to limit the results to a combination of terms occurring within 10 or 25 words of one another.
Example: You are looking for reviews of a book by Claudia Koonz entitled, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987). Go to JSTOR and type the following in the search box:
rt:”Mothers in the Fatherland”
(rt stands for “reviewed title,” and the use of quotation marks around the title signals an exact phrase search)
For the full text of many (over 300) recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find, for example,
Journal of Interdisciplinary History Journal of Cold War Studies
Radical History Review Catholic Historical Review
Journal of Women’s History History and Memory
Holocaust and Genocide Studies Journal of Social History
To get to Project Muse, go to the “Quick Links” on the History and Philosophy Library web site, or go to Online Resources from the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/) and type Project Muse in the search box from the “Journals and Newspapers” tab.
Other good sources for book reviews include Historical Abstracts, Infotrac (Expanded Academic ASAP), EBSCO Host (Academic Search Elite), and Arts and Humanities Citation Index (Web of Science).
UIUC Library Catalogs
Use the online catalog to do a subject search for books or to find out where a particular book or journal is located in the Library.
Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. The call number is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Why bother with subject headings in the online catalog when you can do keyword searching?
It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.
A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings.
As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven’t inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Guided Keyword Search” option.
To search the online catalog, go to the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu) and click on “UIUC Library Online Catalog.”
Searching the Online Catalog:
The online catalog offers both “Quick Search” and “Guided Keyword” search options. Use the “Guided Keyword Search” to identify subject headings on your topic, to combine subject headings (or elements from subject headings) in a Boolean search, or to combine keywords from any part of the record with subject headings to narrow your search.
Use “Quick Search” to browse a subject heading, to search a title when you know exactly how it begins, to locate a work or works by a particular author, or to search by call number for a specific book.
Searching for articles on 20th-century German history
Historical Abstracts is the best starting place to search for scholarly articles in English on 20th-century German history. This database provides indexing and abstracting for articles, book reviews, and dissertations published since 1954 on all aspects of world history (excluding North America), and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online. To search Historical Abstracts, start at the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu) and type “Historical Abstracts” in the search box (making sure that the active tab is either “All Resources” or “Article Indexes and Abstracts”).
Use the Subject Browser to select your subject term(s) by clicking on the magnifying glass to the right of the search box. You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term. For example, select “Nazism” as a subject term using the Subject Browser, then narrow your search with the keyword “women.” Your search results display as short records, which you can expand by clicking on “Display Full Entry” above each record. The full entry shows you an abstract or summary of the article. If a particular article is linked to full text, the link is highlighted in blue.
© 2005 Mary Stuart