As a librarian, I’m sure it’ll come as no shock that my favorite part of crafting a book is the research.
So many might ask… how on earth does someone find research on an esoteric topic on something the Celts (especially the Gael culture).
Many people might be surprised, but a lot of librarians love these kind of questions. In fact we also enjoy showing how we got the answer, at least I do.
So… here are some basic research tools that you can use
1. World History Collection
Generally most reference databases aren’t free to everybody… but the great news is if you have a library card chances are you will have access to them both at the library and at home.
When you go into it, you’ll see a list of subjects like automotive, medical, genealogy, and history. One of my favorites is EBSCOHost’s World History Collection mostly because it’s user-friendly and patrons can pick it up quickly.
Once you have the database up, you can put in a topic or use boolean phrases. If you don’t have a clue what I’m writing about, either call the library or go find a reference staff member. They’re there to help and generally get all excited once they figure out you aren’t asking about the copier or how to print. Generally they’ll take you into the advanced search, so you can find the latest and the greatest in terms of research. While it might be interesting to find an old article about the Gaels mythology, you may wind up with something from the 19th century. If that floats your boat, great, but if you want new information that’s accepted by scholars of today, you may want to try to limit the years of the search.
I’d also make sure that you click on the checkbox for ‘full text’. That’ll make things a lot easier unless you’re doing a search to find print documents that may or may not be available at your local library.
Just for S & G’s I decided to type one of my typical searches…’celts’. This search will bring up a huge number of results but sometimes that’s okay.
One of the first articles that comes up is
Celtic Myths: Celtic History?
By: Young, Simon. History Today. Apr2002, Vol. 52 Issue 4, p18. 3p. 1 Color Photograph. Abstract: Discusses the limitations of oral legends as historical sources in relation to the study of the Celtics culture. Criticism on the oral evidence for the crossing of the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska; Rationale behind the reliability of ancient Celtic legends over non-Celtic legends; Discussion on the historical distorting tendency of oral lores. (AN: 6427706)
Subjects: CELTS — History; CELTIC literature
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HTML Full Text PDF Full Text (730KB)
Since this is an academic journal, we can be pretty sure that it’s a reliable reference source.
If we click on the PDF Full Text length, we can see an electronic pdf copy of the article, which is awesome. Plus you can save it, email it, print it, as well as some other nifty options.
JSTOR is a literal candy store for historical nerds such as I. It’s located at JSTOR.org Some academic universities will have access to it through their databases, however, many public libraries had to give it up. However, you can get an individual account for it and use it as a reliable reference source. If you can’t swing that, you can still use it as a searching tool for useful documents. Basically if you see something you like, you can request that any library in the world loan the document to your local library via worldcat.
Anyways… that’s just a few of the options that writers and researchers today can use.
I hope that helps anyone who’s researching history, especially those who want to use historical research in their fiction.
If you have any questions. I’m more than willing to assist 😀
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