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Honors Program

Culture of Critical Inquiry -- Principles, Processes and Products
Subjects: Honors Program

Tools - Background and Overview

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online  (ORO) brings together a huge range of fully-indexed, extensively linked, up to date, and cross-searchable dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press, including detailed information across a broad subject range from titles in the world-renowned Oxford Companions series.

In addition to the multidisicplinary array of shorter works in ORO, Adams Library also subscribes to several of the major subject-specific reference databases from Oxford University Press, including:

Oxford Art Online

Oxford Music Online

Oxford African American Studies Center

Oxford Islamic Studies Online

And the most extensive and authoritative dictionary of the English language: Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

Credo Ref half icon

Credo Ref icon text

Credo Reference provides an online reference collection of over 1000 reference books. This collection includes various dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as a broad range of subject-specific titles covering everything from art, to geography, to law, to technology.

Credo Guide - creating a Concept Map using Credo (text)

Credo Guide - creating a Concept Map using Credo (video)

Concept Maps display the connections among synonyms and related terms to help you explore areas of interest

EBook Central icon

EBook Central  provides subscription access to thousands of digitized books.  Although all EBook Central books are listed in the HELIN Catalog, and therefore searchable by author/title/subject/keyword like all catalogued resources, EBook Central also provides its own direct search interface.  You can locate any of the thousands of reference books in EBook Central using this strategy on the Advanced Search page.  Use the dropdown menu to change "Text and Key" to "Subject" then use the word "encyclopedias" (yes, it's plural!) or the word "dictionaries" or the word "handbooks."  The majority of reference works are assigned one or another of these three words in their subject headings when they are catalogued.

EBook Central Tutorial - other types of Advanced Searches




In her autobiography Dust tracks on a road, novelist Zora Neal Hurston wrote:

   “Research is formalized curiosity.  It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

And it is assistance in satisfying your intellectual curiosity----in navigating the byways of “knowledge acquisition, integration, construction, and application” ---- that is the primary mission of the Reference and Research Support department of Adams Library.  Even scholars of long standing, when embarking on a new problem  or area of inquiry often consult with colleagues in their field as well as librarians with expertise in the literature of their discipline to ensure that they do not “miss” examining any information of relevance to their topic.   Reference and Research Support, in conjunction with your faculty mentors, will form the foundation of your support network as your need for increasingly sophisticated academic information develops.

Adams Library provides a rich array of source material and discovery tools in each of the academic areas at the College.  Beyond more than half a million books and periodicals, other materials which are physically present in the library include DVDs, audio CDs-both music and spoken word, government documents, microforms (and their digital reader/printers), maps, manuscripts (see Special Collections), music scores, and “realia” such as elementary-school kits and Sumerian clay tablets. 

Our digital holdings include over 75 digital discovery tools – indexes to books and other documents, of which the most fundamental to your work would be the HELIN Catalog, indexes to periodical articles from both magazines and academic journals, as well as collections of digitized reference resources, streaming audio and video files, and online collections of art and anthropological images. [see Online Resources A-Z ].    

To get an impression of the resources on this menu by discipline look at Online Resources by Subject .  Note that many research publications are indexed in large, multidisciplinary tools such as Academic Search (see separate Tools box on this page).

In addition to the three quarters of a million items which Adams Library makes available to you, the majority of the physical items held by the other libraries of the HELIN Consortium can be borrowed directly by you as if they were part of Adams Library [see About HELIN for a complete list of college and university members].  And re-executing a HELIN Catalog search using InRhode allows you to discover holdings among the Brown University Libraries which, if they are circulating materials, can also be borrowed directly by you.  This means you have access to a circulating collection of over 4 million items.

As Roy Tennant  [famous librarian and one of the founding designers of the California Digital Library ] once said:  “librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find."   (a half-truth, as with most clichés).    So although you are encouraged to poke around among our resources, as Ms. Hurston notes, it is when you search “with a purpose” that you are most focused and effective.  So don’t hesitate to contact us before you start gathering information for a project, when your search is underway but you want to discuss tools and strategies, or when you have discovered the existence of useful sources, but can’t seem to gain access to them. [see Ask a Librarian, or contact me directly as Head of Reference: ]

Tools - HELIN and her Catalogue

HELIN is an acronym [ Higher Education Library Information Network ] representing a consortium of ten colleges and universities,  which includes the James P. Adams Library at Rhode Island College,  plus a number of RI hospital libraries.  The 4 million circulating items held by the HELIN libraries can all be borrowed by you either via the catalog or in person at each library.  The key is the 14-digit library barcode printed on your RIC ID.  Once your barcode is activated by establishing a library account then you may directly borrow or request any circulating item (STATUS = "Available") in the HELIN system.

HELIN Catalog tab on homepage

This array of tabs gives you convenient access to a number of tools besides the HELIN Catalog.  However, the ARTICLES tab links to the basic page of Academic Search Complete.  Use the more flexible and powerful search interface in the Tools - Periodicals box on this page instead.  JOURNALS tab allows you to check for a publication you already know about (i.e. your advisor wants you to use American Historical Review to find reviews for books on the Civil War). Course RESERVES allows you to check by professor's last name (i.e. Ciambrone) or course (i.e. Sociology 350) to see if material has been "reserved" for use in a particular course.  GOOGLE SCHOLAR gives you direct access to the simple search page of the "RIC version" of Google's academically oriented search interface.  The more powerful Advanced Search page is listed on our Online Resources A-Z list.

There are two ways to begin a HELIN Catalog search from this tab on the homepage.  The simple search box provides access to a version of the catalog where the "facets" or limiters listed in the left-hand frame allow you to focus your search in a number of ways. 

HELIN Encore

The Keyword link below the simple search box allows you to start with the master Advanced Search page of the HELIN Catalog where you can set a number of limits in advance as well as using the search boxes to break your search down into its main concepts.  Notice that the SUBJECT "Honors courses" and the education level "colleges" have been specified as well as RIC holdings, material for the last 15 years, and digitized books.

HELIN Catalog - Adv Keyword

Tools - Periodicals (Journals mostly)

Though Newton may have been only napping under that tree when the proverbial apple struck him on the head, he was more likely reading - studying the work of fellow scholars.  You will do a great deal of work discovering, gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing information to support your academic projects.  The better the quality of those sources, the more likely they will help you in developing fresh insights into the questions, problems, or creative work (art, music, literature) you choose to pursue.

These discovery tools represent a very basic toolkit for gaining access to scholarly articles and documents (for books, films, government documents, see the HELIN Catalog box below).  But one of the tools that is NOT in this toolkit is a magic bullet.  Neither these databases nor any other single tool is the ONE place you will find the most relevant, authoritative, and useful academic publications for your work.  There will always be MORE places to look and new search strategies to try.  Remember: you can contact Reference whenever you need help with tools or search strategy.