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African Studies: Africana Bibliography syllabus

A guide to UF Libraries' research and teaching resources in African Studies. Feel free to let us know what would be useful to have included.


Africana Bibliography AFS 5061.
Fall Semester 2015: taught as section 27BD of AFS 6905; meets 1 hour/wk., Tue. 3rd per. (9:35 - 10:25 a.m.) in Library West, room 211. 1 credit.

Meet in the "hands on" instruction room of Library West (LW 211), located to the left of the Circulation Desk as you enter the second floor from the elevator or escalator.

Required for the graduate Graduate Certificate in African Studies, this one credit graduate course surveys a broad range of library research tools available in print and online. Similar scholarly resources are available for African-related research at other academic research libraries, so information literacy skills learned here will be useful and applicable over the long term. Students will learn how to quickly and efficiently employ a wide range of research tools to retrieve a greater variety and depth of materials for their own research and writing.


At course completion, students will be able to effectively discover, evaluate and use a broad range of scholarly research tools to identify and access library research materials for a variety of advanced projects. They will be able to consistently present scholarly sources in an acceptable citation format and to develop a research bibliography rich in diverse resources relevant to their area of academic interest.


Dan Reboussin ( heads the African Studies Collection for the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. His anthropology dissertation fieldwork was conducted in Senegal. Office: 200A Smathers Library (aka Library East). Telephone (352) 273-2642. Office hours 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, by appointment.


Students are responsible for reading this syllabus for information on course policies, assignment requirements, grading policy, and due dates. Assistance with registration and enrollment issues is available from the Registrar and/or Ikeade AkinyemiCoordinator Administrative Services at the Center for African Studies.

Enrolled students are kindly requested to submit course evaluations online at (from the opening of the system until the day before final exams). Results of previous student course evaluations for AFS 5061 can be found at the same site.

Classroom policies, assignments, and grading

Requirements for class attendance and make-up exams, assignments, and other work in this course are consistent with university policies that can be found in the online catalog at:

Attendance is required at all class meetings--any exceptions will be determined at the sole discretion of the instructor (consisten with university policies). While a very few absences may be excused in advance of the class in question, points will be taken off from semester totals commensurate with tardiness, class content missed, and work not completed. An excused absence is not equivalent to attending class. Students are held responsible for inquiring about missed lectures, completing all assigned readings (the optional textbook and other readings below are intended to support classroom presentations), completing all assignments and arranging their satisfactory completion with the instructors prior to an excused absence. Your attention and active participation in class is expected and required. Please turn off all cell phone ringers and the like.

Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on 10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at

Academic honesty

The instructor requires the highest standards of academic honesty, ethical conduct and scholarly integrity to be maintained for this course and all work at the University of Florida. Among other things, this means that plagiarism is considered a most serious offense. Ask the instructor if you aren't certain of how specifically to comply with these standards and expectations.

UF students are bound by the Honor Pledge: "We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honor and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code."

On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment." The Honor Code specifies a number of behaviors that are in violation of this code and the possible sanctions. Furthermore, you are obliged to report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with the instructor.

Accommodating disabilities

Students requesting classroom accommodations & services must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.


Student e-mail contact information from the Registrar is used to communicate for the duration of the course. You will first outline your academic background and research interests, then develop a project topic in cooperation with the instructor. Next, you will begin evaluating a range of library research tools as a part of a pair of assignments that amount to partial drafts of the final bibliography project. Finally, students will identify and use a variety of reference and research tools to expand, annotate and improve upon these initial bibliographies.

Attendance, participation, timely consultation with the instructor, interim assignments and the completion of a final bibliography project all will be essential elements in the evaluation of your performance for this course. Attention to scholarly standards and accepted formats will be required.

Date due Assignment Point value (% final course grade)
Sept. 2 Research background & academic interests statement 10%
Oct. 21 Draft bibliography, phase 1 (reference resources, dissertation and journal databases) 20%
Nov. 4 Draft bibliography, phase 2 (archival resources, national & topical bibliographies, government documents) 20%
Dec. 9 Final project (annotated bibliography) due 40%
  Attendance, participation (classroom discussions and consultation with instructors on project) and timeliness. 10%

Grade Scale

A 91+ C 71-75
B+ 86-90 D+ 66-70
B 81-85 D 61-65
C+ 76-80 E <=60

Grading policies are adopted from the Graduate School catalog and University Registrar (undergraduate) catalog.

Schedule (subject to change)

2015 schedule & topical summary

Topics and dates are subject to change (note a major reshuffling from weeks 5-13, below).

Week 1 Aug. 26: Collection management and other library functions for African Area Studies: Library branches and organization, formats. 

Week 2 Sept. 2: Using the Library Catalog effectively. National bibliographies, topical bibliographiesResearch background and interests assignment due.

Week 3 Sept. 9: General reference tools: Encyclopedias & guides, the multi-library database WorldCat, and the ILLiad Interlibrary Loan service.

Week 4 Sept. 16: News digest and sources for current events; also: Academic journal indexes and databases.

Week 5 Sept. 23: Scholarly publication and author permissions/rights. Guest: Christine Fruin, J.D., Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Week 6 Sept. 30: Maps collection: Presentation by Map & Imagery Library curator Carol McAuliffe. Meet class on first floor (ground level, one floor down from entrance level) of Marston Science Library. See also African maps and imagery page.

Week 7 Oct. 7: Digital curation and scholarship. Guest Chelsea Dinsmore, Curator for Digital Collections.

Week 8 Oct 14.: Digital and data collections, digital humanities. Guest Dr. Laurie Taylor, Digital Scholarship Librarian.

Week 9 Oct. 21: Rare African Studies materials at UF. Meet class on second floor of Smathers Library (East). Phase 1 project draft assignment due

Week 10 Oct. 28: Social science sources: Disciplinary sources for the social sciences. 

Week 11 Nov. 4: Government documentsIndividual domestic and foreign, multilateral, and quasi-governmental documents, as well as statistical sources. Phase 2 project draft assignment due.

Week 12: Nov. 11. University Veteran's Day holiday. No class.

Week 13: Nov. 18. African Studies Association conference. No class.

Week 14: Nov. 25. Thanksgiving break. No class.

Week 15 Dec. 2: Dissertation sources, Using citation indexes (e.g., Web of Knowledge). Archives: Guides to and catalogs of special material including those at CRL/CAMP, SOAS, the Melville J. Herskovits collection, etc. Microformat (film, fiche, opaque) facsimile collections.

Week 16: Dec. 9: Final projects due (annotated bibliography). Review and open question session.

Optional and supplementary reading

While it's optional, please read Gretchen Walsh's article online. These are helpful and/or interesting, but none are required readings (though they may be assigned to individuals as part of an excused absence).

Howard, Jennifer. 2011. “Citation by Citation, New Maps Chart Hot Research and Scholarship's Hidden Terrain.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Sept. 16). Available online:

Kagan, Alfred. 2005. Reference guide to Africa: a bibliography of sources. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. LIBRARY WEST, Reference Z688.A54 .A37 2005
[Earlier edition (1998) available online via NetLibrary. This is an optional reading assignment that you may use to follow along with during the course for additional information and to complement classroom lectures (especially when you've missed a class). Like this syllabus, it can be considered as an excellent model for the kinds of resources to be included in your final project.]

Kear, Robin and Danielle Colbert-Lewis. 2011. "Citation searching and bibliometric measures: Resources for ranking and tracking." College & Research Library News 72:470-474. Available online:

Lovering, Daniel. 2001. "Taming the killing fields of Laos." Scientific American 285, 66-71 (August) doi: 10.1038/scientificamerican0801-66

Mann, Thomas. 2005. The Oxford guide to library research. New York: Oxford University Press. LIBRARY WEST General Collection -- Z710.M23 2005

-----. 2006. "Doing Research at the Library of Congress: A Guide to Subject Searching in a Closed Stacks Library." Research Guide No. 46. Washington, DC: Humanities and Social Sciences Division, Library of Congress. Available online:

-----. 2007. "The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries." (June 13, 2007). PDF, 41 pp. Available online:

Poe, Marshall. 2006. "The Hive." The Atlantic Monthly. 298:2 (86-96). (September). Available online:

Reboussin, Daniel. 2011. "Information literacy: 21st century library research methods for African Studies." Africa Bibliography 2010. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. [Open Access preprint is available in the UF Institutional Repository].

Schmidt, Peter. 2010. "New Journals, Free Online, Let Scholars Speak Out." The Chronicle of Higher Education (Feb. 14). Available online:

Walsh, Gretchen. 2004. "'Can we get there from here?' Negotiating the washouts, cave-ins, dead ends, and other hazards on the road to research on Africa." In: LaFond, Deborah M. and Gretchen Walsh, (eds.). Research, reference service, and resources for the study of Africa. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Information Press. Available online:

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