Historical Abstracts

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This database contains full-text articles on the history and culture of the history of the world, excluding the United States and Canada, from 1450 to present. Coverage begins in 1954 to the present. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • describe the types of materials and reasons for using this database
  • access Historical Abstracts database through the ASU Library home page
  • brainstorm keywords to search
  • combine & search keywords using the connectors AND and OR
  • limit search results to scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and by publication dates
  • locate the full-text of articles, including via the Get It@ASU button

How to Use this Tutorial

Click on the NEXT button to move forward and the PREVIOUS button to go back in this tutorial. This self-paced guide allows you to try things over.


As a guide to Historical Abstracts, follow the directions in trying practice searches and answering questions that test your understanding.

 

Accessing Historical Abstracts

In this section we will review the different paths to access Historical Abstracts.

ASU Library homepage [https://lib.asu.edu] in the right window offers 3 easy options...

1- Under "Frequently Used Resources"  click on "View All Research Databases." From the alphabetical list, click on "H" and scroll down until you see Historical Abstracts. Click on the title link to connect to the database.

2- Select "Research Databases" from QUICK LINKS menu. From the alphabetical list click on "H" and scroll down until you see Historical Abstracts. Click on the title link to connect.

3- In the One Search box, click on the drop down menu and select "Databases." Type "Historical Abstracts" into the search box and click on the "Search" button.

If you are off campus you need to enter your ASURITE ID and password for each of these options.

Pre-Searching: Selecting a Topic

Before starting a database search, there are several things you should do. This is the pre-searching phase.

Select your topic

Your topic should be something that interests you, is relevant to the course assignment, can be completed in the time allotted, and information resources are available.

To begin, let's look at this topic as an example:

What impact did women have in the French Resistance during World War II?

The first step after deciding on a topic is to break it into the main ideas or concepts that will translate into keywords.

Next we will review the search question to identify main concepts.


Pre-Searching: Identifying Topic Concepts

Looking at this research topic, it is easy to quickly identify some of the main ideas or concepts. 

What impact did women have in the French Resistance during World War II? 

The obvious concepts are womenFrench resistance and World War II.

Another idea in this search topic is the impact of the resistance, but adding that word is not always necessary to get the results we want, so we'll hold it back.

Pre-Searching: Brainstorming Topic Keywords

To further explore potential keywords, brainstorm some synonyms or related terms that describe the ideas in our search. Here are some keyword suggestions relevant to this search question:

Women

Females, women

French Resistance

Underground, underground fighters, partisans, resistance, French resistance, France 

World War II

World War II, European theater

Impact

Impact, affect

 

Defining Search Connectors

1 of 2

Now that we have our keywords and synonyms, we need to use SEARCH CONNECTORS to combine them in a logical, understandable way that allows the most relevant items to be retrieved. The most commonly used Boolean search connectors are AND, OR, NOT.

Looking at the keywords from a sample search question, let's try combining them using AND or OR

AND connects keywords representing different concepts and allows multiple concepts to be searched at the same time. The AND connector serves as a narrowing mechanism because it only retrieves results that include all of the keywords.

ex. military AND Afghanistan AND weapons

Defining Search Connectors

2 of 2OR connects different keywords describing the same/similar idea or concept and allows multiple keywords to be searched at the same time. All keywords entered are searched. The OR connector serves as a broadening mechanism because it retrieves results that include either of the keywords. Both keywords may be found in the same result, but it is not required that they be found together, as would be the case if you used the AND connector.

 ex. army OR marines

NOT is used between two keywords to retrieve items containing the first word but not the second word. It eliminates a concept/idea/keyword and serves as a narrowing mechanism.

ex. weapons NOT airplanes

Using Search Connectors

Using search connectors (AND and OR) can be confusing, so let's review by using the keywords we previously identified for our topic.

Women: Females, women

French Resistance: Underground, underground fighters, partisans, resistance, French resistance, France

World War II: World War II, European theater

Impact: Impact, affect

OR connector:

Our first concept is "women." We identified women and female as potential keywords. OR is used to combine different keywords describing the same idea. The search would look like this:

women OR female*

Our second concept is "French resistance." Some alternative keywords for this concept are the underground and resistance. Combining these keywords with the OR connector looks like this:

"French resistance" OR underground OR resistance OR partisan*

 

AND connector is used to combine different keywords describing different ideas. Following is how our search would look:

(women OR female*) AND ("French Resistance" OR underground OR resistance OR partisan*)

 

Both Women OR female* & "french resistance" OR Underground OR resistance OR partisan* are enclosed by parentheses ( ) because each group represents the same concept and the ( ) ensures each is searched before being combined with the other concept.

There are two other things in our search query to note:

  • we added an * at the end of several words. The * tells the database to search the keyword with various endings such as female or females
  • we put quotation marks " " around one of our keywords so that the database keep the words together and search these words as a phrase

Starting a Search

Now that we have a topic and have identified several keywords, we are ready to search.

There are multiple ways to access Historical Abstracts. Since we have the ASU Library website open, we will focus on accessing it here.

To find Historical Abstracts, follow these instructions:

Look at the library home page to the right.

Under the "Frequently Used Resources" click on "View All Research Databases."

Click on "H" in the alphabetical list of databases, then scroll until you see Historical Abstracts with Full Text. Click on the database title.

Entering Search Keywords

Entering Search Keywords

In the first search box, type or copy and paste the following keywords exactly as shown here:

women or female*

In the search box on the second line, type or copy and paste these keywords exactly as shown here:

"French Resistance" OR underground OR resistance OR partisan*

 

Press the SEARCH button to see the results.

Practice Activity: Search Results

We searched (women or female*) and ("french resistance" OR Underground OR resistance OR partisan*).  How many records were retrieved in this first search?

Limiting Search Results

In this section you will learn how to limit your search results.

Many professors require you find and use scholarly [academic] articles that are peer-reviewed.

Let's practice limiting your search results using the options on the left column.

Under LIMIT TO, check the box next to "peer-reviewed" articles.

Some faculty also require the articles you use be written within a specific time period, although publication date of an article is not as important in history as it is in science or business where the most recent information is important. To meet this requirement you can limit search results to publication dates.

Change the dates in the boxes displayed OR slide the arrow so the date range is 2005 to most recent.

Since adding those limits, the number of articles was cut by over one-half. 

Because our topic is about the French Resistance, you will find that some articles are written in a language other than English, like French. If you are unable to read non-English language articles, it might be helpful to limit the results by language.

Under REFINE RESULTS, click "Language" and check the box(es) next to the languages you are able to read.

Viewing Search Results

We searched our keywords and limited the results, so it's time to view what we found.

Each record in our results list contains basic information about the source such as the information needed to create a citation [author, title, dates etc.], an abstract [article summary], subjects assigned, etc.

To the left of the abstract is an icon that says "Academic Journal." This is a reminder that your results are scholarly articles.

Getting the Full-Text of an Article

Now that you have learned how to search using keywords, use search connectors, and limit search results, it is time to look at finding the full-text of an article.

Not every article has the full-text available within this database. The articles that do have the full-text generally indicate that by using one of the following phrases:

Full-Text-PDF: a scanned version of the original journal article and always the best option to choose

Linked-Full Text: often available as a PDF

HTML Full Text: this link will take you to an unformatted version of the article.

To retrieve the full-text, click on the icon and follow the path. You may need to click several times to get to the full-text. 

If you do not see any of these phrases, click on the Get It!@ASU button to see if the full-text is available through another ASU Library database.

If the full-text is not available, you can request the article via your ASU Library interlibrary loan account, ILLIAD. Using the screenshot below as an example, you can initiate and ILL request by clicking on the "Request external copy" link.

Interlibrary loan request indication for article found in Historical Abstracts

 

 

Learning Outcomes

Now that you have completed this tutorial, you can:

  • describe the types of materials and reasons for using this database
  • access Historical Abstracts database through the ASU Library home page
  • brainstorm keywords to search
  • combine & search keywords using the connectors AND and OR
  • limit search results to scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and by publication date
  • locate the full-text of articles, including via the Get It!@ASU button 

Need Help?

If you need additional help with your research or in searching Historical Abstracts, contact our Ask a Librarian service.

For assistance with this tutorial, contact Deirdre Kirmis.

Historical Abstracts--Quiz

Congratulations, you’ve completed the Historical Abstracts tutorial!

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