Category Archives: Databases

Oxford Handbooks are online all the time

Did you know that we can access the set of Oxford Handbooks online? (Click the link!)

We have many of these in print, but some of them we only have access to online. And FYI, some of these can only be accessed by going through the databases tab (link above) and cannot be accessed by searching in the books & more tab.

These handbooks are great references resources for getting yourself up to speed on a topic as quickly as possible, and they’re a great complement to Oxford Islamic Studies online.

Some of the handbooks most relevant to Islamic studies are the following:

  • The Oxford handbook of Islamic theology
  • The Oxford handbook of Islam and politics
  • The Oxford handbook of American Islam
  • The Oxford handbook of African American Islam
  • The Oxford handbook of European Islam
  • The Oxford handbook of the Abrahamic religions
  • The Oxford handbook of the sociology of religion
  • The Oxford handbook of religion and the American news media
  • The Oxford handbook of religion and the arts
  • The Oxford handbook of religion and violence
  • The Oxford handbook of religious diversity
  • The Oxford handbook of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding

There are even more exciting topics that can help you in a wide variety of subjects. Take a look through the database and see if you can find something that interests you!

So you have a research project – where to start?

When you’re beginning a research project from scratch and you don’t have enough background information, the best place to start are the well-known reference and introductory works on the subject.

These types of work have many titles: encyclopedias, companions, textbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies, lexicons, introductions, primers, handbooks, key to… etc.

Encyclopedias are usually the best place to start, as they have the most detailed level of research among reference works. Articles within them are supposed to be “a repository of all known facts,” i.e. a current overview of everything known on a given topic. They distill vast bodies of secondary research into a small space to make it easier for you to see the big picture.

Encyclopedias tend to range from very broad (i.e. Encyclopedia of Islam) to more specialized and specific (i.e. Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World). If you don’t know a lot already, you want to begin with the general topics and work your way into more specific materials. Imagine you are trying to find a little café in New York City. First, you might need to look at a map of the whole city, then at a map of Manhattan, then of a map of Uptown, and then a map of the subway. Same thing with encyclopedias and references.

While encyclopedias ought to be neutral, scholarship often advances from a relative viewpoint. You might notice that some encyclopedias lean towards various positions. That’s why it’s always a good idea to refer to multiple reference sources.

Sometimes the field of scholarship advances quickly and a new work appears at the time the reference encyclopedia was published. Keep in mind that recently published sources might not account for a year or two of secondary literature published after its writing. Even old encyclopedias have value as you can trace the intellectual history of a concept.

Take note, however, that reference works are usually not cited in academic papers. They’re mostly used for getting you up to speed on a topic.

Today, the most important references are online. My particular favorite is Oxford Islamic Studies, but all of them are generally good resources. Here are some of the go-to references in Islamic Studies:

Take a look at our Middle East Studies Research Guide for even more!

Core databases: Index Islamicus

2016-01-10_0938The Index Islamicus database indexes literature on Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world. It is produced by an editorial team working at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, established to transmit knowledge about Islamic and Middle East studies, which have traditionally been part of the curriculum of SOAS. Records included in the database cover almost 100 years of publications on the world of Islam.

Material cited in the Index Islamicus includes not only work written about the Middle East, but also about the other main Muslim areas of Asia and Africa, plus Muslim minorities elsewhere. Over 3,000 journals are monitored for inclusion in the database, together with conference proceedings, monographs, multi-authored works and book reviews. Journals and books are indexed down to the article and chapter level.

NYUAD students, faculty and staff can access the database here.

U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East, 1945-2009 (Brill)

Brill US intelligence databaseWe recently acquired a new database from Brill entitled U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East, 1945-2009.

According to the publisher:

This comprehensive document set sheds light on the U.S. intelligence community’s spying and analytic efforts in the Middle East and North Africa. It covers the time period from the end of World War II to the present day, up until the 2002-2003 Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) assessments, the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War, and Iran’s nuclear program.

Included in the database are “top secret” declassified primary source documents such as CIA briefings. Each document includes other relevant primary sources, reference works, bibliographies, books, and journal articles. A “background” essay by editor Matthew M. Aid puts the sources in the context of the U.S. Intelligence community’s “misadventures” in the Middle East, including key dates and events in the region. A supplemental bibliography, glossary, and chronology help build an even clearer contextual picture.

This database will be useful for researchers of Middle Eastern history and politics, U.S. foreign policy in the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the Syrian civil war, both U.S.-led wars in Iraq, the Iranian revolution and nuclear program, as well as other countries like Lebanon, Libya, and Jordan.

Migration to New Worlds

Given the historical importance of the Gulf Region as a port-of-call for many different migrants, and the continuing interest of many researchers on migration studies, this new database might be of use to NYUAD scholars:

Migration to New Worlds showcases unique primary source material recounting the many and varied personal experiences of 350 years of migration. Explore Colonial Office files on emigration, diaries and travel journals, ship logs and plans, printed literature, objects, watercolours, and oral histories supplemented by carefully selected secondary research aids.

There are some interesting and unique primary sources in this collection.  Please let us know what you think, or if you have any questions about using the database.

New Resource: Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia Online

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia is one of the most important European primary sources for the study of the modern Gulf region from the 17th to the early 20th century. The Gazetteer offers the fullest account of the state of knowledge of the region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



Arabic Collections Online


“Collections Online Arabic (ACO) Is A Publicly Available Digital Library Of Public Domain Arabic Language Content.  Funded by New York University Abu Dhabi, this mass digitization project aims to expose up to 15,000 volumes from NYU and partner institutions over a period of five years. NYU and the partner institutions are contributing all types of material-literature, business, science, and more-from their Arabic language collections. ACO will provide digital access to printed books drawn from rich Arabic collections of prominent libraries.”

More Information For, Please Email:

Library Director Ginny Danielson discusses the collection here.

Coverage in The National.

Trial Database: US Intelligence on the Middle East

NYU Libraries is trialing a new database, please take a look and let us know what you think in the comments!

U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East, 1945-2009 (Brill)

Since 1945, the U.S. intelligence community has had to cover a half-dozen major wars and several dozen smaller but equally bloody armed conflicts in the Middle East, as well as innumerable civil wars, border clashes, armed insurgencies, and terrorist attacks. This comprehensive document set sheds light on the U.S. intelligence community’s spying and analytic efforts in the Arab world, including the Middle East, the Near East, and North Africa. It covers the time period from the end of World War II to the present day, up until the 2002-2003 Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) assessments, the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War, and Iran’s nuclear program.