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Finding library resources for Anthropology

Assignment Type

Have you been given a topic?

> Yes. Skip to 3. Library research.

> No. Start with 1. Developing a topic.


Read your assignment!

Before you start, make sure you understand what the assignment is asking for.

Highlight key parts (e.g. due date, requirements). 

Use Assignment Tracker to manage your time.

Paper structure

Adapted by Sabrina Wong 
Source: Wikimedia Commons author 120

Lucy, skeleton (AL 288-1) Australopithecus afarensis, cast from Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris

1. Developing a topic

Start with what you've covered in class - Is there a reading or a weekly theme that you are interested in?

You can also think about what you've learned in other classes - are there connections to the themes of this course?

2. Develop and focus your topic

You'll need to hone in on a guiding question or thesis. What is your main argument?

Ask yourself:

Is this topic too big?
Look at the length requirement for the paper. 
The shorter the paper, the more focused your guiding question needs to be.
   You might want to consider focusing on a particular culture (e.g. Tsuu T'ina) or
   situation/event (e.g. signing of Treaty 7) in the context of a larger topic
   (e.g. indigenous land rights).

Is this actually focused on anthropology?
Have you phrased your question so that it draws on or is framed by anthropological theories or ideas?

Are scholarly materials available for this topic?
Do a quick search on the library website. Type in the keywords (main ideas) into the search box and see if many results come up. You probably want to stick with a topic that has some sources available.

If you're still unsure, check with your professor or T.A.

3. Library research

Start with your course materials (lecture notes, readings)

If you find a relevant course reading, look at the bibliography at the end. You'll find other relevant materials that way.

Use this guide to find specific types of materials. Start with Background sources and then move on to Books or Articles, depending on what the assignment requires. 

4. Write the paper

Take a look at the diagram and model your paper on the Department of Anthropology style sheet.

Title: Separate title page required (abstract needs to be on this page)

Introduction/Abstract: Provides a road map of your paper - outlines your topic, thesis/guiding question. Take a look at this guide.

Body: Main part of your paper - presents your research in a clear and logical structure and builds support for your thesis

Conclusion: Bring together your main points and tell reader why it matters/supports your thesis. Take a look at this guide.

References Cited: List of the resources that you used in your paper. Format it in the citation style your professor has chosen.

Once you finish writing a first draft, edit, edit, edit

If you're unsure about the writing process, visit the Student Success Centre's Online Writing Resources or book an appointment with them.

What citation style do you need?

American Anthropological Association style guide (AAA) has been discontinued as  of September 2015.  AAA now follows the Chicago Manual of Style (Author-Date format).   See also:  Chicago Manual of Style - quick guide

Primatology uses APA Author-Date. 

If your professor has chosen neither of these styles, check out the Student Success Centre's guides to citing.

​Note for online sources you need to add the DOI or stable URL to end of the citation in the Reference Cited list.  

What is a paper proposal?

You might be asked to hand in a paper proposal or paper abstract before the paper is due.

It should have these parts:

  • title
  • brief discussion of your topic
  • guiding question/thesis
  • possible conclusions
  • list of some books/articles/resources that you'll use

Helpful Guides

This guide was created with information from these sources: 

A Student's Guide to Writing and Reading in Social Anthropology, Harvard University (PDF, pages 26-30)

Writing in the Disciplines: Anthropology, University of Richmond