Week 2

Exercise: Literature Review

  • Start by visiting pages on Wikipedia that are relevant to your topic. Skim each article looking for primary sources relating to your subject. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and look over the References section and take particular note of authors and titles that seem interesting. Follow some of the links to secondary sources and try to harvest potential citations from there.
  • Based on this internet research, find 3 books in the NYU Bobst library catalog which you’d consider relevant for your literature review. Be sure to use the ‘Tweak My Results’ sidebar filters to stay within the library. Your three books should focus on different aspects of your subject:
  1. a person relevant to your field of interest
  2. a particular era or place of historical significance
  3. an event, thing, or process that is central to the field
  • Write down each book’s ‘call number’ and use this map to find their locations on the shelves.
  • Walk down Fifth Ave. to Bobst Library in the southeast corner of the park.
  • Within reach of each book’s shelf location, choose one additional title. Since call numbers group related books via physical proximity, you will marvel at the relevance of this serendipitous find.
  • You are now holding six books.
  • Check out all of the books you’ve selected unless they’re available online.


  • Reading
    • Read chapters 3–6 from The Craft of Research in the section “Asking Questions, Finding Answers”
    • For every reading assignment, you will be expected to post a short (250–500 word) write-up summarizing what you took to be the ‘message’ of the piece, what you agreed or disagreed with, and what you’d be curious to hear your peers’ opinions about.
    • Be sure to add the tag “R1” to your post by clicking on the gear icon at the top of the screen and don’t forget to publish your post via the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the editor.
  • Literature Review
    • If you haven’t done so already, make a local clone of the course Github repository and locate your personal subdirectory within the students folder.
    • Add the titles of your six books to the references.md file within your student directory using Chicago Manual of Style formatting (feel free to use Citation Machine to figure out the ‘syntax’).
    • Do some research into library catalog systems and figure out which scheme Bobst uses and what your books’ specific call numbers mean (using the links below). Look into the ‘nearest neighbors’ of your numbers and consider broadening your topic to incorporate them. Include these subject names alongside the call number in the Subjects list of your references.md file.
    • Identify the other major catalog system and figure out where each book would fit into its more hierarchical scheme. Consider the ‘parent’ and ‘child’ categories that relate to your call numbers. Add as many of these as are relevant to your Subjects list (and sort the list so the most general terms are at the top and the most specific at the bottom).
    • Skim each of your books and write up a concise summary of its subject matter, its thesis, and 3 Questions it raised for you or could help you answer. Append these notes to the citations in your Literature Review section.
    • Some useful references:
      Complete listings of LCC Categories
      DDC → LCC and LCC → DDC call number mapping
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