This course guide will help you find resources for your HIST 103 research paper. This guide will also help students enrolled other HIST courses.

Course Content


I. Prehistory 

A. Emergence of humankind in Africa 

B. Paleolithic food gatherers 

C. Neolithic farmers 

D. Transition to civilization 

II. Early Civilizations (3500 - 200 BCE) 

A. River Valley Civilizations: Euphrates , Indus , Nile , Yellow 

B. Empire and religion in the Middle East 1200-500 BCE 

C. Greek Civilization to 500 BCE: Minoan Crete to Classical Greece 

D. Early Indian religious systems and the Mauryan Empire 

E. China : Xia, Shang, Zhou, and Qin Dynasties 

F. Africa : Kush , Carthage , Western Sudan 

G. The Americas : Olmec, Chavin 

H. Cultural evolution and parallel development 

III. Classical Civilizations (200 BCD – 500 CE) 

A. Emergence of Greek City States B. Rome : early republic and empire 

C. Golden Age on the Ganges : Gupta Empire 

D. Empire of the East: Han China 

E. Africa : Axum 

F. The Americas : Mochica to the Mayans 

G. Cultural diffusion: migration, trade, and ideas 

IV. Diverging World Regions (500 – 1500 CE) 

A. Europe : Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation 

B. The Arab Empire and the expansion of Islamic Civilization 

C. India between the Gupta and the Mongols 

D. East Asia : Tang and Song in China and Heian Japan 

E. Eurasian Empire: Mongols 

F. Africa : Ghana , Mali , Ethiopia , Western Sudan 

G. The Americans: Toltecs to Chimu

Keyword vs. Subject Searching

A keyword search uses natural language to search for a word anywhere in a record: the title, abstract, subject headings, author, text, etc. (the equivalent of searching "everything" in the library catalog).  For example, if you search for fast foods and teenage obesity, you'll retrieve results in which all of these four words appear anywhere in the record at least once. However, you won't find articles that use synonyms of these words, such as overweight or youth.

A subject heading search uses the database's own pre-determined vocabulary. This requires you to know which terms have been assigned for certain subjects. For example, if you want to find articles on fast foods and teenage obesity in Academic Search Premier, you'll need to search for convenience foods and obesity in adolescence. This will retrieve all articles that have been assigned these subject headings, even those that use different wording in the text itself.

Keyword                vs.                 Subject
Natural language words describing your topic. A good way to start your search. Pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" assigned to describe the content of each item in a database or catalog.
More flexible for searching. You can combine terms in any number of ways. Less flexible. You must know the exact controlled vocabulary word or phrase.
Database looks for keywords anywhere in the record (title, author name, subject headings, etc.). Database looks for subjects only in the subject heading or descriptor field, where the most relevant words appear.
Often yields too many or too few results. If a subject heading search yields too many results, you can often select subheadings to narrow the search.
Often yields many irrelevant results. Results are usually very relevant to the topic.

Clip video--Developing a topic

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Boolean Search Operators

There are three little words that are used as Boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT

Think of each keyword as having a set of results that is connected to it. These sets can be combined in different ways to produce different sets of results. You can also exclude certain sets from your results.

The table below explains how Boolean operators work.

Boolean Operator Examples Retrieves


Boolean AND

AND combines different terms when both must be present. Use AND to narrow a search.


Boolean OR

OR combines terms when at least one must be present. Use OR to broaden a search.


Boolean NOT

NOT eliminates irrelevant terms from a search. Use NOT when you want to exclude all records that contain a certain term.

Generating Keywords

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