Today I’m going to do something a little unusual for the Library of Antiquity. I’m going to review a Latin app called SPQR Latin Dictionary and Reader from romansgohome.com. The website has a lot of screenshots of the app in action plus a lot of information on the app’s different features, so I won’t cover everything the app can do today. Instead I’ll do a brief overview of the main features, and then share what I think are the best and most useful parts of the app.
We’ve been covering L’Année Philologique over the last two posts, but you might wonder why you should bother to use a bibliographical database at all. Why can’t you just Google when you’re looking for sources? The short answer is that Google is primarily a search engine for the web. Google is not, and does not claim to be, a database of scholarly articles. Sure, Google Books and Google Scholar are specialized search engines designed to limit search results to articles and books, but they are not the same as an article database.
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.
I’ve been dealing recently with a lot of questions about finding secondary source material for assignments. I often find that students have a hard time understanding which sources are appropriate scholarly sources, as well as which sources are considered “online” sources and which are not.
We’ve had quite a few posts now on undergraduate essay writing (a general post on academic writing, why you should never write a sandwich essay, and developing a research topic). I refer my students to these resources (and many others developed by universities) all the time for basic essay writing skills, but I’ve recently noticed that many students still struggle with using sources to bolster their argument instead of merely narrating events with provided texts. What follows is a back-to-basics post that I hope will make the distinction a little more clear.