L’Année Philologique (APh) is a specialized bibliographic reference for all fields of Greek and Roman antiquity, published by the Société Internationale de Bibliographie Classique. It provides book, article, and review titles, authors, and abstracts for material published from 1924 to 2014 (it’s updated every year). APh is an actual print publication that most university libraries will (or used to) subscribe to if they offer undergraduate or graduate programs in any discipline of classical antiquity, but it is also available as an online database via two different interfaces. The first, EBSCO, is the interface that my library subscribes to and will be the topic of today’s post.
First perhaps I should start with a few words about what bibliographic databases are for. When you are looking for sources on a topic (for a research paper, for your thesis or dissertation), a bibliographic database is a great place to start because it will have the most up-to-date material and will not (unlike a Google scholar search) include materials that are not peer-reviewed. It’s also a useful resource when you need to build a comprehensive bibliography on a particular topic. Searching APh probably won’t find you every single article or book ever published on your topic (remember, entries currently stop in 2014), but it will give you a large bibliography right away. Those books and articles, in turn, will lead you to anything that gets left behind in your search – and there will be! APh is a powerful tool, but there are always going to be things that are missed in a database search because no database is perfect. What I’m trying to say is that you should start with the APh search, but don’t expect the list you export to be every single article ever written on your topic. Instead, use it intelligently to build your bibliography and add other sources that you come across as you read the works you found in APh.
Let’s take a look at the EBSCO interface for APh.
The main search page is a pretty standard advanced search. Taking a closer look at the field selections at the top you can see that you have the option to choose which field to search for your terms (like Title, Author, Abstract, etc.). Note that you can select interesting categories like Archaeological Sites or Reviewed By if you’re looking for something extra specific, such as a citation.
You get some more neat options in the pane titled ‘Search Modes and Expanders.’
You can search Boolean, or choose to find all your search terms, any of the search terms, or perform a SmartText Search. SmartText Searching is EBSCO-specific, and offers a way to locate an exact phrase or large chunks of text. This can be useful if you read a quotation in a non-scholarly work and you’d like to find out where it came from. But be cautious with this tool: SmartText is limited to EBSCO, and you might not be able to find the exact match in an EBSCO-indexed text. A Google search may be more helpful here.
On the right-hand side you can choose to search for related words as well. I’d highly recommend leaving this option checked, especially if you’re looking for items in more than one language or you’re not using super-specific keywords. You can also choose to search in the full text of articles (which returns many more results) and you can apply equivalent subjects. This last tool checks your search term against commonly used index keywords and returns the result of both your specific search and the common keyword. This option does not work if you’ve chosen a search field such as Title or Subject.
In the bottom pane you can limit your search results. You can ask it to only return items that have the Full Text or an Abstract Available online. Maybe you’re only interested in stuff you can find quickly, or you’re worried that without the abstract you won’t know if you need to read some exceptionally long article in another language. You have options to define the Publication Name (useful if you’re looking for something specific) or limit by Publication Date, Language, or Document Type. Most useful to undergraduates is the Language limit. You’ll see why in a moment, because we won’t select it for our sample search.
Let’s do a quick search. I made selections in the search fields, but otherwise left the search options in the default position. If you look up at the panes in the pictures above, I didn’t change any of the selections.
You can see that my very general search for ‘Scipio Africanus’ has produced 102 results. If this seems like a daunting number to you, or you are immediately perturbed at all the different languages the results come in, you can (on the left-hand side) refine your results by Publication Year, Language, etc. (any of the search parameters that you were given the option of changing on the main Advanced Search page).
If you don’t limit your results (and we won’t), you can use the Page Options and the Sort Order to make the list more approachable. Under Page Options you can choose how much detail you’d like to see for each result, the number of results per page, and the layout of the results page.
You can also Sort your results by Date (Oldest or Newest first) and by Relevance.
Each search result has two small icons on the right-hand side of the pane. The first one, a page with a magnifying glass, brings up a more detailed view of the result, complete with the abstract.
The second icon is a blue folder. It will turn yellow when you click on it, indicating that you’ve added the result to your Folder.
Once you’ve selected a few, a Folder Items pane will open up to the right of your results list.
If you click on Folder View (next to the red arrow in the image above), the results that you selected in the previous screen will be waiting for you in your Folder. From there you can Print the results, E-mail them, Save them to a file, or Export (to a spreadsheet). Your Folder is active for your entire session (that is, until you log out of EBSCO or are timed out for inactivity), so you can put the results of multiple searches into the same Folder if you want!
Hopefully this little tutorial helps you use the EBSCO-hosted version of L’Année Philologique. If you’d like more detailed information of the interface, EBSCO has a great help section that is really easy to get to. All over the place are these little help icons (indicated below with red arrows).
When you click on the little help icon you will find the main help page for all of EBSCO’s website. To find the help section for APh, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the left-hand column.
Click on the link to L’Année Philologique and you will find a detailed help section for the entire database!
There you have it! L’Année Philologique on EBSCO, complete with a detailed EBSCO help section. Happy bibliography-building everyone (and Happy St. Patrick’s day)!