Personal Research Paper Ideas For Anthropology

ADDITIONAL REFERENCE WORKS

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No two bibliographies or indexes are exactly alike. So every time you use a new reference work, you will need to spend some time (fifteen minutes to a half hour), learning how to use it. That goes for the reference works that were discussed in more detail before--you can't learn how to use something like this entirely from someone's descriptions. You have to go and actually use these reference works in order to consolidate what you've learned. It takes some practice.

It is advisable to use several reference works when surveying the literature in preparation for a research paper. And remember that indexes and bibliographies organized by geographical areas index sources that focus on particular subjects (such as culture and personality or political systems), and the "subject" indexes will include sources that focus on ethnographic areas.

This is not an exhaustive list of reference works useful in anthropological research. I have tried here to list only the ones you will probably find most useful. There are many other useful reference sources. Try browsing in the reference area sometime to get a feel for the diversity of available reference works.13 There is a list available in the reference area devoted just to reference works in anthropology, and there are similar lists for other subjects as well.

Obviously, if you have any questions or problems, consult your librarian.

GENERAL
Cultural Anthropology: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources. 1991. Guide to reference literature in cultural anthropology, as well as libraries, publishers and organizations.

Introduction to Library Research in Anthropology. 1991. Guide to research tools, library services and the mechanics of term paper writing in anthropology.

The Social Sciences: A Cross Disciplinary Guide to Selected Sources. 1989. Consult the "Anthropology" chapter for an annotated list of recent reference sources in anthropology.

Sources of Information in the Social Sciences. 3rd ed. 1986. The "Anthropology" chapter contains an exhaustive annotated bibliography of the literature of this field. [probably] Available at the Reference Desk.

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences--Anthropology. 1955-91+ This has an author-subject index at the back of each volume. It breaks the discipline into sub-areas in a "clasification scheme"-- for example, General Studies, Materials and Methods, Ethnographic Studies (by area), Social Organization (by area and by institution and type of behavior, e.g., sexual relations, inter- racial and inter-ethnic relations). The IBSS also includes bibliographies in political science, economics, and sociology. The anthropology part covers archeology and physical anthropology as well as cultural and social anthropology.

DICTIONARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS
Dictionary of Anthropology. 1986. Covers 1100 terms, theoretical concepts, and biographical profiles in social and cultural anthropology. Includes bibliography.

Dictionary of Concepts in Cultural Anthropology. 1991. Contains definitions, historical origins and developments, and bibliographic references for 80 key concepts in cultural anthropology.

Dictionary of Concepts in Physical Anthropology. 1991. Consists of brief definitions, historical origins and developments, and sources of additional information for concepts in physical anthropology.

Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 1976 This is really a dictionary rather than an encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search for its Origins. 1990. Popular encyclopedia containing 600+ articles on evolution and its impact on society, from Bonzo to biogenetic law and from "Planet of the Apes" to plate tectonics.

Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition. vol 1-4 Covers most major aspects of Islamic history and religion.

Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory. 1988. Covers 1200+ topics in human evolution. Contains photographs, drawings and charts. Entries include bibliographies.

Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 10 vols.[in progress] 1991- . Ten-volume encyclopedia, arranged by geographic region, provides descriptive summaries on world cultures.

International Dictionary of Anthropologists. 1991. Biographical dictionary of anthropologists born prior to 1920. The scope is worldwide.

International Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Neurology, 1977 Volume 12 is the index volume. The articles are signed and have reference lists. The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences would also be useful in doing research in psychological anthropology.

Women Anthropologists: A Biographical Dictionary. 1988. Biographical profiles of women anthropologists born between 1836 and 1934. Profiles include a selected bibliography of works by or about each individual.

INDEXES AND ABSTRACTS
Abstracts in Anthropology. 1970 - . Abstracts are brief summaries of the contents of a publication and index journal articles in a subject arrangement. Abstracts, unlike book reviews, are non-evaluative. Most social sciences have their own abstracts. You may also find Psychological Abstracts and Sociological Abstracts useful. Divided into four sections: archaeology, physical anthropology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology. Does not index book reviews.

Africa Bibliography. 1984 - . Index to articles, books and essays. Arranged by region and country, following a general section. Consult the social and cultural anthropology/sociology and anthropology/ archaeology/prehistory subject headings.

Alternative Press Index. 1970 - . Index to alternative and radical publications. Consult this index for articles on Australian aborigines, native Americans and other groups.

Index America: History and Life. 1964 - . Table This work indexes and abstracts periodical articles in the field of North American history and culture. Includes articles on native American history, prehistory and culture. Includes book reviews.

Anthropological Index to Current Periodicals in the Museum of Mankind Library. 1980 - . Indexes more than 600 periodicals in a geographical arrangement, subdivided by general, physical anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics. No subject index. Annual author index published separately. Does not index book reviews.

Anthropological Literature: An Index to Periodical Articles and Essays. 1979 - . Indexes over 1000 periodicals and 150 edited books from materials received at Harvard's Tozzer Library. Does not index book reviews.

Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts. 1987 - . Index to journal articles in the applied social sciences. Includes social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and physical anthropology.

Index Arts and Humanities Citation Index. 1975 - . Table Provides author, subject and citation access to the literature in folklore, linguistics and archaeology. Includes book reviews.

A Current Bibliography on African Affairs. 1962 - . Quarterly index to books, articles, government documents and visual aids, arranged by general subject or geographical area.

Geographical Abstracts: Human Geography. 1989 - . Index to 1000 geographical journals, books, proceedings, reports, theses and dissertations covering the literature of human geography. Classified subject arrangement.

HANDBOOKS
Handbook of Latin American Studies, 1935- Publishes separate volumes on humanities and social sciences. Annotated.

Handbook of Middle American Indians. 16 vols. 1964-1976. Contains essays on the ethnography, archaeology, physical anthropology and social anthropology of the Indians of Middle America. Updated by recent supplements.

Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols. [in progress] 1978 - . When completed, this work will be the standard source of information on the prehistory, history and cultures of the native peoples of North America north of Mexico. Each volume contains essays on specific aspects of Native American life with an extensive bibliography and detailed index.

Handbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 1973. Surveys the state of knowledge and reviews research in the various branches of anthropology.

Handbook of South American Indians. 7 vols. 1946-1959. Survey of tribes of South America, with emphasis on the European contact period.

Medical Anthropology: A Handbook of Theory and Method. 1990. Presents the state of the art in medical anthropology, core theoretical issues, ethnomedicine, biomedicine, health issues in human populations, methodology and policy issues.

BIBLIOGRAPHIES
Anthropological Bibliographies: A Selected Guide. 1981. Extensive list of bibliographies arranged geographically with a final section of topical bibliographies.

Anthropological Fieldwork: An Annotated Bibliography. 1988. Contains 700 entries on anthropological fieldwork from the early twentieth century to 1986. Includes geographical and subject indexes.

A Bibliography of Contemporary North American Indians: Selected and Partially Annotated with Study Guide. 1976 Organized by topics--for example, the anthropology of development, culture and personality.

Cumulative Bibliography of African Studies. 1973 This is a reproduction of the author and subject catalog of the IAI. Subject headings are organized under geographical Folio areas. It has a table of contents. The IAI has several other bibliographies which might be useful.

Cumulative Bibliography of Asian Studies. 1941- These are two titles in the same continuous series. Broken down by topic and country, they cover an extraordinarily large range of publications and therefore runs four or five years behind (i.e., volume covering 1986 was published in 1991).

Ecce Homo: An Annotated Bibliographic History of Physical Anthropology. 1986. Contains 2340 references from ancient times to on the history of physical anthropology. Arranged chronologically.

Ethnographic Bibliography of North America. 4th edition, 1975 (supplement 1990) Organized by areas. It has 40,000 entries on articles and books, and covers the field through 1972, supplement takes it through the 1980s.

Ethnographic Bibliography of South America. 1963 Organized by area, then by tribe. Has tribal index.

The History of Anthropology: A Research Bibliography. 1977. Contains more than 2400 entries on the development of anthropology as a science and profession.

Index Islamicus: A Catalogue of Articles in Periodicals and Other Collective Publications. 1958-85. Organized by subject and by area. Includes section on ethnology and anthropology (more current supplements issued periodically)

Modern Chinese Society: An Analytical Bibliography. 1973 Good source for older work, but much new research has been conducted since it came out.

Native American Basketry: An Annotated Bibliography. 1988. Comprehensive bibliography includes books, articles, theses, dissertations and newspaper articles. Organized by culture area. Contains author and subject indexes.

Pacific Bibliography: Printed Materials Relating to the Native Peoples of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. 1965. 2nd ed. This has author, subject, and group indexes.

The Social System and Culture of Modern India: A Research Bibliography. 1975 Organized by subjects--covers sociology and social and cultural anthropology, although all of the subject headings refer to "sociology."

YEARBOOKS AND REVIEW LITERATURE
Annual Review of Anthropology. 1972- This gives critical reviews of recent research in selected areas of anthropology, such as political and economic anthropology, symbolic studies, culture change, and area studies. The biblio- graphies for each article are generally quite extensive.

Reviews in Anthropology. 1974 - . Quarterly journal which publishes long reviews on important new publications in anthropology.

ATLASES
Atlas of Mankind. 1982. Contains general background information on peoples of the world, including issues such as migration, race, kinship, language, and environment.

Atlas of World Cultures: A Geographical Guide to Ethnographic Literature. 1989. Geographical guide to ethnographic books, articles, reports, archaeological materials, maps and atlases for 3500+ cultures.

Cultural Atlas of China. 1983. Visual representation of the culture history of China, with maps, photographs, tables and text. There are similar volumes on Africa and Japan.

DIRECTORIES
AAA Guide. Current year. Describes anthropology departments in 485 institutions, lists American Anthropological Association members, recent PhD dissertations in anthropology, and student statistics.

Biographical Directory of Anthropologists Born Before 1920. 1988 Entries include biographical data, major contributions, and published sources of biographical information.

MELVYL, ROGER, and the web

(this section by Jim Moore, 1998)
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Nowadays a fair amount of your library research can be done without ever entering the library (not all of it; after you identify sources using an online catalog, you still need to get them--with some nifty exceptions!). This brief section on electronic searching is NOT intended to cover the topic in as much detail as the rest of this document; it merely points out a couple of things I find many UCSD students are not aware of.

ROGER seems to be where most students begin their online research; this is a great resource and has an easy-to-use interface, but has a critical limitation: it only covers BOOKS.

Now, at first you might think, well, duh--libraries house books, I'm looking for books, so like what's the limitation line all about? It's about periodicals. Using ROGER, you can locate which library subscribes to which journal, which is useful, but now what? To find an article on a particular topic, what do you do? You bag ROGER, that's what.

[Jan. 2001 update: The new millennium has brought changes to the system, and the rate of change is increasing. Much of the following is based on the "old" 1998 MELVYL interface (which is still available); resources today are vastly greater. Start your online library search for journals at the California Digital Library (http://www.dbs.cdlib.org/. The pull-down menu asks you to select a database. If you are looking for a book, choose MELVYL; for a bioanthro article my suggestion is start with Current Contents. Experiment! The Really Cool Thing is that if you are logging on from a campus computer, for many journals you can read/download the entire article online! Save yourself that trip over to BioMed or SIO... DO skim through the rest of this, though; the exact commands and interfaces change, but the search strategies do not.

Main UCSD Library page: http://libraries.ucsd.edu/]

Selecting Appropriate Anthropology Essay Topics

There are a few courses that truly fascinate students. Some of the favorites are psychology, sociology, mythology, and anthropology. When students take these courses, their instructors usually assign research papers and essays. Students in psychology class have an easy time picking topics because the subject is constantly evolving. Mythology research papers are difficult to create because the topic has not changed much in thousands of years. Sociology and anthropology topics are full of variety due to the special subtopics. In the anthropology field, you can research subtopics like biological, sociocultural, linguistics, theories, cultural, methods, and current events. Here are some different topics that keep students fascinated in studying humans and their past, present, and future:

  1. Differences in growth and development
  2. Race and the causes of racism
  3. Genetic engineering
  4. Differences in death rituals
  5. Definitions of culture
  6. Marriage rituals in different cultures
  7. Beliefs in magic and the supernatural
  8. Different “ranks” in society (peasants, royalty, etc.)
  9. Mythologies and its effects on modern culture
  10. The role of storytelling in different cultures
  11. Social media and its impact on cultures (first vs. second and third world)
  12. Using anthropology as a forensic science
  13. Studying twins in different cultures and throughout time
  14. Political organizations and anthropology
  15. Closed societies
  16. Heroes in societies
  17. Human evolution
  18. Aboriginal/native cultures and anthropology
  19. Gangs vs. Fraternities vs. Families
  20. Social status and role
  21. Festivals, rituals, dance, parties, music
  22. Conflicts in different cultures
  23. Education around the world
  24. Migration around the world
  25. The role of literature in human development
  26. Art and anthropology
  27. Health and wellness in different cultures
  28. Arguing for or against the purpose of IQ around the world
  29. Feminism in different cultures
  30. Emergence of terrorism and culture

The best topics are the ones that students want to research. It is easier to research a topic when you absolutely love learning more about it, because everything you read will be interesting. If you really want to make a research paper enjoyable to write, you could always try to prove the complete opposite of what you were expecting to find. Students who want to challenge themselves while writing about a fascinating topic can dig into cultures that they know little about or they can try to prove a topic that is difficult to prove. The approach you take on the anthropology paper can make it not only interesting for you, but


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