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Pop Culture Research Guide

This guide will help you start your research on a history topic for your research paper or presentation.

 Reference Books - Searching the Library Catalog - Searching Electronic Resources - Print Periodicals - Searching the Internet - Recommended Web Sites - Web Evaluation - Citing Your Sources


Reference Books

Reference books are a good place to start your research. The following list of books will help you narrow down your topic, find additional search terms, and get a general overview of your topic before you begin your research. This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to look at the books shelved near these titles for additional books.

  • St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture – REF E169.1.S764 2000
  • War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia – REF E181.W26
  • Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture – REF E184.S75 E59 2004
  • Shakespeares after Shakespeare: An Encyclopedia of the Bard in Mass Media and Popular Culture – REF PR2880.A1 S48

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Searching the Library Catalog

Once you have narrowed down your topic, search the library catalog for additional resources on your specific topic. Here are some search tips and strategies.

Try the following subject headings in the subject search screen (you will then want to scroll down the search results for additional related headings).

  • Popular culture
  • United States--Popular culture
  • African Americans in popular culture

To conduct an advanced keyword search, go to the advanced search tab and try some of the following search strategies.

In the first search box search: popular culture “as a phrase” in “Subject”. In the second search box, add one of the following terms:

  • icon? “all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”
  • fashion “all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”
  • art "all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”
  • music “all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”
  • language “all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”
  • media “all of these” in “Keyword Anywhere”

Note: The ? symbol placed at the end of the term is a truncation symbol that tells the computer to search for all words that start with the first part of the letters included. For example, icon? will search for icon, icons, and iconography.

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Searching Electronic Resources for Articles and eBooks

You will find magazine, journal, and newspaper articles on history topics in many of the databases at OCC Library. This is a list of the most pertinent sources. You can find all of the databases that are available on the library's Periodicals and Electronic Resources page. If you are off campus, you will need to log on with your student ID and last name.

  • Britannica Online - Online encyclopedia with photos and more. Good for providing a general overview of your topic.
  • Academic OneFile - Database of magazine and journal articles, most of which are available in full-text. You may also limit your search to scholarly journals.
  • Academic Search Premier - Similar to Academic Onefile, but with different content. Database of magazine and journal articles, most of which are available in full-text. You may also limit your search to scholarly journals.
  • America: History and Life - America: History and Life covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. This database has journals and some books.

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Periodicals in Print at OCC Library

The following periodicals are found in the Periodicals section of the library and are filed in alphabetical order by title. You may also want to consult the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature to locate articles from the time period you are researching and to view the articles using microfilm. For a complete list of periodicals available, see our periodicals title list.

  • Entertainment Weekly (1 year ago - Current)
  • Esquire (4 years ago - Current)
  • People (1 year ago - Current)
  • Rolling Stone (4 years ago - Current)

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Searching the Internet for Web Sites

The following Web sites will help you find reliable Internet resources that are of good authority for your research paper or presentation.

  • IPL2 - This site was developed by librarians as a reliable and efficient guide to Internet resources. This site is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 14,000 Internet resources that have been selected and evaluated by librarians.
  • DMOZ Open Directory Project – This human-edited directory of the Web breaks the topics into sub-topics and also provides “see also” references.
  • Google Advanced Search - Instead of using Google's default search, try the advanced search. There are a lot of tools that will give you better results, such as a box that lets you limit your results to a domain such as .edu or .gov.

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Recommended Web Sites

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Web Evaluation

Evaluating Web Sites - A quick and useful guide to help you evaluate the Web pages you find for purpose, authority, objectivity, relevance, currency, and responsibility.

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Citing Your Sources

  • Purdue OWL: Research and Citation Resources – A thorough guide to basic research and citing your sources using MLA, APA, and other formats. From Purdue University's online writing lab.
  • Guides to Cite It! – Provides style guides for APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and others. From the University of Georgia Libraries.

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(jk 5/07, updated lc 12/11)