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“Brandeis

*Philosophy

A guide for library resources and research information for students studying Philosophy.

Zoe Weinstein

Zoe Weinstein's picture
Zoe Weinstein
Contact:
ztweinstein@brandeis.edu

Getting Started with Books

Books are a great place to find research resources. Most monographs (written by 1-3 people) are focused on a single topic or idea and have a very large amount of information. Many edited volumes (3+ people, or chapters written by different people with one editor) are essentially collections of peer-reviewed essays and are great places to find multiple views on one particular topic or idea. 

To find books at Brandeis use our OneSearch Catalog. Make sure to select Library Catalog in the dropdown to the right of the search bar. 

If you can't find something here at Brandeis check WorldCat and request an item from interlibrary Loan! Books take around 2 days to 1 week to arrive and will be held at the Information and Borrowing Desk. You can also request a single chapter of a book, which will be scanned and emailed to you, usually within 2 business days.

How to determine if a book is relevant to your research

Determining if a book is relevant to your research can be a multi-step process but is especially important in your research process as it can take a large amount of time to read a book thoroughly to determine relevancy. 

Step 1: Use the Index

The index is a list of terms, topics, and people/places that the authors and editors have determined are the most important from throughout the text. Start here by finding the terms, topics, etc that best work with your topic. Think broad! Check out these pages and note them for later.

Step 2: Table of Contents

The table of contents is a way for the authors and editors to break up the book by theme, topic, or time (or other organizing principle). Check out the chapters in which your terms (from the index) are most referenced or turn to the chapter that best fits the overall theme of your research. Again, think broad!

Step 3: Skim the Chapter

There's still sometimes no need to deep dive into a chapter until you've determined its relevancy. Try skimming the chapter by reading the introduction and conclusion as well as the first sentence or two of each paragraph. This doesn't always work! Depending on the topic you may need to skip to step 4...

Step 4: Read Closely

Now is the time to read closely; pick a chapter or section and read the chapter closely.