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CLAS 145: Classics & Conflict in the US (Joseph): Start Here!

Summer 2020

General Tips & Troubleshooting

General Tips:

We know that accessing online resources when you are not on campus can be confusing. But we want to make sure you know: anything that you could access at Holy Cross, you can access from home! Here are some things you should know about how this works: 

  • When accessing JOURNALS OR DATABASES (like JSTOR), it is important that you go through the links on the library’s website. If you go to while working from home, JSTOR will not recognize you as a Holy Cross subscriber. Using the links on the library’s website will ensure that you are properly recognized and logged in. 
  • When SAVING LINKS for later access, make sure that you are using a permalink generated by the database or search tool. We would caution you against simply leaving tabs open, bookmarking, or copying the link from your address bar. These links often have code in them related to whatever search you have been doing and/or when you were searching, which will expire, causing the link to break.

     Instructions for finding and using permalinks


Here are some of the most common problems that you may encounter when accessing links from off-campus, and what they mean.

In general, many technical problems can be solved by clearing your browser cache



When accessing items from off-campus, the only log-in screen that you should ever see is the CAS login screen, which uses your Holy Cross network username/password (i.e., what you use for STAR). 

Some users are encountering an EBSCO or OCLC login. If these appear, it usually means that there is something wrong with the link that you are using. Check that the link has the proxy prefix (more information below) and does not have any extra punctuation (i.e., a period at the end of some links will prevent them from working). If you are still hitting the OCLC or EBSCO login, please get in touch! You will not be able to login to the OCLC or EBSCO login screens. 


When working off-campus, any link to a library resource should begin with: This is what prompts the database to show you the CAS login screen and verify that you are a Holy Cross user. If you have a link that does not begin with this prefix, you can often fix the link yourself by copy-pasting this prefix on the front of the link. 

If that doesn't work, please get in touch with us (chat or and we'll be happy to get you the correct link. 

Note that the links auto-generated by many databases (ProQuest among them) do not include this prefix by default; you will have to add it manually. 


In library databases or journal pages, if you are properly logged-in, you should see a message with wording similar to “Access provided by College of the Holy Cross,” usually near the top of the page. If you see a message prompting you to log-in to your library’s subscription, are asked to pay for access to articles -- or, in CrossSearch, if you see a yellow bar at the top welcoming you as a Guest -- you may need to log-in again. You can do this by starting a new CrossSearch search, or by opening a database from the library website. Then, refresh the tabs you have open and your log-in and access should be renewed. 

If you are experiencing technical problems, please reach out to us! Not only do we want to fix your access as soon as possible, but you may have encountered a problem that will affect others, too! 

The best way to contact us for tech problems is to e-mail, and mention that it is a library related issue. If you can, CC, which will help us respond to you more quickly!  You can also use the library chat if you need a more immediate response. 

Research 'Need to Knows'

The Information Lifecycle

The Information Lifecycle helps us understand how information about an event, topic or idea might emerge and evolve over time. 

Note that this timeline is just a general sense of the information lifecycle -- the exact timing can vary greatly from one discipline to another! 

How Searches Work

Some research tools -- Google and other web searches as well as certain databases -- conduct what is called a full-text search, which scans every word of the document(s) being searched from beginning to end. 

Others, including the majority of our research databases and the library catalog, conduct what is called a bibliographic or metadata search. These tools scan only the metadata, or descriptive information about the documents they contain -- titles, abstracts, subject keywords and other info. This is why searching for sentences or entire phrases often works poorly in the research databases, and why Google produces so many more matches. 

So which do you choose? 

bibliographic search will bring you fewer results, but will be tailored to results that mention your terms in the descriptive information (and therefore, are more likely to be relevant). 

 full text search will bring you a greater number of results, but more of them are likely to be irrelevant (for example, if your search term appears only once in the document in an off-hand mention). However, it might catch some articles that you might not see otherwise, and may help you find articles whose bibliographic information uses different terminology to describe your topic. 

You may want to experiment with tools that conduct both kinds of searches, to get the widest range of resources on your topic. 

Choosing the Right Search Tool

There are three main categories of databases that you may encounter while doing historical research:

General (Article) Databases 

  • May contain many types of sources (scholarly, non-scholarly, multimedia,etc., all typically secondary)
  • Cover a variety of subject areas; 
  • Good places to begin research OR to do research on an interdisciplinary topic. May not be specific enough for advanced research. 
Subject-Specific (Article) Databases
  • May contain many types of sources (scholarly, non-scholarly, multimedia, etc., all typically secondary)
  • Focus on a specific subject area or areas;
  • Include tools designed for specialized research (e.g., ability to search by historical period).
Primary Source Databases 
  • May contain a variety of source types (newspapers, ephemera, manuscripts, etc.) or be limited to one, but all are of the primary source genre. 
  • Typically focused on the basis of one or more of the following: date; geography; type of source; and/or topic. 
  • Usually includes tools specifically designed for searching primary sources (e.g., chronological browse; ability to narrow by geography; pointers linked from introductory essays; etc.) 

In order to choose an appropriate database, you should consider your research needs. What do you need at this point in time? Are you still becoming familiar with your topic, or are you trying to fill specific gaps? 

Always consider the limitations of your topic. This is even more important when searching for primary sources. When selecting a primary source database from our collections, you should try to identify one that matches your topic based on...

Chronology, topic, geography or genre

For example, if you are hoping to find news reports on the London Blitz, not just any primary database will do! You need a resource that: 

  1. Provides access to newspapers; 
  2. Includes resources published in the UK; 
  3. Cover the period 1940-1941. 

Need help selecting a database? Consult your professor, or a librarian! 

Classics Librarian

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Jennifer Whelan
Coordinator of Research & Information Literacy

Dinand 203