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Anthropology: ANT 470 Cities

This guide provides research strategies for anthropology students at the University of Northern Colorado.

Research Guide for ANT 470

ANT 470: Cities in Anthropological Perspective, Dr. Andrew Creekmore, 8- 28-13

Librarian: Wendy Highby, 970-351-1530,

Your information portal:




Definition: METADATA—data about data

OED: “a set of data that describes and gives information about other data”

You will be using metadata and creating new metadata when you create your Annotated Bibliography (list of resources with explanatory notes) and Prospectus. In your research, you will be searching for metadata that will point you to resources.


Types of Resources: reference books, books (monographic), chapters in books, journal articles, reports/white papers (grey literature: incl. government and think tank documents, statistics)

Where to search for metadata about books? The LIBRARY CATALOG: Click on the Books & More tab. Direct link:

If we don’t have an item, check the statewide catalog: Prospector

National/International catalog: WorldCat


MONOGRAPHS: browse the stacks:

GN 395 in the 3rd floor stacks: Urban Anthropology

HT in the 3rd floor stacks: Urban Sociology


ONLINE REFERENCE Use reference sources for topic overviews, context, starting points, orientation

Two examples of subject-specific reference books:

Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (Sage, 2010)

Handbook of Urban Health (Springer, 2005)

Search tip: In the catalog, add “and encyclopedias” to your search; or add “and handbooks” to your search.

Gale E-Books, Oxford Reference (all on the Databases A to Z list), or click on Databases by Type


SCHOLARLY JOURNALS Use the Journal Titles tab, the “Find Journals” feature, or Ulrich’s Directory. E.g.:

City & Society

Urban Affairs Review

Urban Studies




Where to find metadata about journal articles:

INDEXES/ABSTRACTS/DATABASES (lists; summaries/structured sets of data): general and subject specific; see Databases A to Z link on library homepage

Your challenge: The multi/inter-disciplinary nature of your field. The four-field anthropological approach: Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, Bioanthropology, Linguistics (Also: Sociology, Urban Planning, Philosophy, Geography, Film Studies, and Psychology)

For advice about which Index/Abstract/Database to use, see the Libguides re Anthropology and other subject areas:

Or ask a Reference Librarian:

Just a few examples of databases (See Databases A to Z or by subject):

Academic Search Premier—comprehensive, many subject areas covered

Social Sciences Full Text—subset, excellent metadata

Sociological Abstracts—good for many topics in cultural anthropology

Anthrosource—full text, not comprehensive, no subjects, just keywords

eHRAF World Cultures—selectively indexes books and articles by paragraph

Humanities Source—try for archaeological topics




Many Databases use a controlled vocabulary: look for the Thesaurus or Subject Term links/tab.

Definition: CONTROLLED VOCABULARY: A consistent collection of terms chosen for specific purposes with explicitly stated, logical constraints on their intended meanings and relationships.

Brainstorm: What are the synonyms for “city”? Urban, metropolitan, civic, municipal, town, community, neighborhood, suburb

How to format your search? Here is one possibility: (urban* or cities or city or metropolitan) and [subject]. The asterisk is a truncation character and retrieves any word with the root “urban”. Don’t truncate cit* because it might bring up “cite” and too many other words starting with “cit”. The parentheses and the “or” groups the search logically.

NOT ENOUGH RESULTS? Combine databases within Ebsco or ProQuest; use keywords instead of subject terms

TOO MANY RESULTS? Limit your search to one subject-specific database; use controlled vocabulary/subject headings

SEARCH TIP in EBSCO AND PROQUEST: Author affiliation search: AF space [in Ebsco's ASP], AF() [in ProQuest Sociological Abstracts]

(AF anthro*) and urban* and (homeless* or housing) = 117 results in ASP

AF(anthro*) and urban* and (homeless* or housing) = 92 results in Soc Abs



PAIS: Public Affairs Information Service selectively indexes grey literature Go to “P” in the Databases A to Z list

Urban Institute: “nonpartisan economic and social policy research”—Think Tank

Google Scholar: Scholarly gray literature, citation tracking, drilling into full text (also Google Books) 

Georgia Tech Research LibGuide—excellent Urban Studies links



State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, 2010 (US Census)

County and City Data Book (US Census)

State of the Cities Data Systems (HUD)

UN’s state of the world’s cities (UN Habitat)


Class exercise: Possible subject headings/controlled vocabulary, indexes/databases: • theories/general resources • urban sociology • fieldwork • archaeology • city planning • public health • social problems • popular culture, music, film • language/linguistics

Task 1: Identify type of resource cited

Task 2: Evaluate author of resource: (A) determine institutional affiliation (B) determine discipline (C) Other

Task 3: Locate metadata for the resource [catalog record for book or chapter; abstract entry for journal article]: (A) identify database(s) [library catalog or database name] (B) list subject headings found (controlled vocabulary)

Task 4: Look up citation in Google Scholar and/or Google Books

Task 5: Find a think tank or government agency document relevant to an urban studies topic.