Research Essentials: Oxford Bibliographies Online

By Katherine Cordes, Associate Director, Reference and Outreach
April 7, 2020
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

To the uninitiated, there may be few things that sound more dry than a collection of bibliographies, but for any student, researcher, or lifelong learner hoping to get a quick foothold on essential texts and resources in their area of interest—there is absolutely nothing more useful.

Oxford Bibliographies Online is one of many online bibliographies—or collections of books, journals, and literature organized around a particular subject, author, or other aspect—that New York Public Library provides access to. Researchers usually first encounter Oxford Bibliographies Online when introduced to it by a librarian, as we frequently direct researchers to this resource at the beginning of a project, or when a student is getting their grounding during a seminar or when putting together a literature review.  

The database, accessible with an active NYPL library card, provides peer-reviewed guides (meaning they contain credible, scholarly content) to a range of topics, providing brief introductions, lists of core texts, and key areas of scholarship. The search interface is straightforward, with various pathways to search and discover relevant articles, links to related articles, and easy internal navigation across resources. 

The range and depth of content is not possible to fully cover here, as over 30 fields in the humanities and social sciences as disparate as Atlantic History, International Relations, and Public Health, can be searched for, each with hundreds of guides for areas within these fields.  Over 50 new articles were published this past month providing extensive guides to subjects like, "Black Codes and Slave Codes," "Japanese Ceramics," "Hebrew Literature and Music," and "The Politics of Parenthood."

Oxford Bibliographies Online is a core resource to keep in mind when investigating new areas of study or deepening knowledge of your current field, providing reliable citations for scholarly journals, essential monographs, and databases, all couched with historical context of a subject's field.  Once you've explored the wonders contained in this database, with research guides covering everything from 'Roman Law" to 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer," perhaps you'll try your hand at other subject specific bibliographies the Library provides access to from the comfort of home.