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Introduction to Anthropology

An introduction to anthropology related resources available through NYU library's online collection.


Anthropology is the study of all things human. Research in the field of anthropology requires the use of a variety of information resources. Although academic, scholarly or peer-reviewed articles and publications are considered the most appropriate sources for university-level research and writing, you might also have need of reference resources, audio-visual materials, digital collections, magazines, and news articles. Before using the following recommended databases to start your research, here are a few tips:

  • Start your search for articles in a general article database such as EBSCO Discovery or ProQuest Central.
  • For subject-specific articles use a subject database such as AnthroSource.
  • If your assignment requires the use of scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed articles, try a database such as JSTOR

Types of Anthropology Journals

University-level research requires a high degree of scholarship and most instructors generally require that resources be scholarly and of high quality. Journalsmagazines, and other types of periodicals are especially important sources of scholarship, commentary, and analysis for current anthropology research.

Because the quality and usefulness of journals and magazines vary, knowing how to differentiate between them is one of the most important tasks an academic researcher must learn to do effectively. Listed below is a quick review of the types of anthropology journals you will encounter when doing research.

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals are associated with publications marketed to a university or otherwise highly educated audience. Most scholarly journals contain articles that have been peer-reviewed (also known as refereed). Peer review occurs when a scholarly publisher sends an author’s submitted article to outside experts for review before publication. The reviewers (the author’s peers) conduct research in the same academic field as the author and determine if the article meets the academic standards set by the publishing journal. Features of scholarly journals include: 

  • Long, in-depth analysis of topics using specialized language.
  • Authored by university professors and researchers for a specialized audience.
  • Extensive bibliographies, footnotes or references.
  • Few images or illustrations except for basic charts or graphs.
  • Main purpose is to report original research within the academic community.


Current Anthropology Journal Cover Human Nature Journal Cover Journal of Archeological Science Cover The Journal of Peasant Studies
Current Anthropology Human Nature  Journal of Archeological Science The Journal of Peasant Studies

General Interest Journals and Popular Magazines

General interest journals and popular magazines such as Discover and National Geographic can be great resources for a broad overview of a topic. Further, they often provide well-researched articles on current  topics and issues useful for academic research. However, they are generally not considered scholarly, nor have their articles gone through the academic peer-review process. Features of popular magazines and general interest journals include:

  • In-depth analysis of topics.
  • Attractive covers, images, and advertisements.
  • Authored by scholars, specialists or journalists for an educated, but generalist audience.
  • May sometimes cite sources, but not generally.
  • Main purpose is to educate and inform.


Archaeology : a magazine dealing with the antiquity of the world. Anthropology Now Discover Magazine World Archaeology
Archaeology  Anthropology Now Discover Magazine World Archaeology
Your university professor may not consider popular magazines credible sources for scholarly research assignments. Carefully read the assignment requirements before evaluating and selecting your sources.

Anthropology Subject Databases

Subject-specific databases provide articles and resources solely within a specific discipline. This section lists the best anthropology databases providing coverage of scholarly literature across all anthropology areas and sub-disciplines.

General Article Databases

The two largest general academic databases are EBSCOhost and ProQuest Central. Known primarily by their vendor names, EBSCO and ProQuest are aggregators of individual databases that use a single search interface. Each contain a combination of full-text and citation databases and provide a varied mix of scholarly journals, trade publications, general magazines, and newspaper resources. EBSCO and ProQuest are also multidisciplinary, which means they cover a wide range of subject areas.