Annotated Bibliography on Wisdom (Lewis, Spring 2016)

last modified 2016-04-28T16:30:28-04:00

Your first paper is an annotated bibliography on wisdom.  A basic Discovery search for "perspectives on wisdom" produces over 850,000 results.  If you don't want to wade through all of those results, this page provides searching tips to narrow your results as you identify and summarize those 6 good sources for this 4-5 page paper.  Your assignment stipulates 1 source from Psychology, 1 source from Philosophy, and 1 source from Theology/Biblical Studies.  The remaining 3 sources can be from any of these, Theology, or another discipline.  Remember that 2 of these sources should be scholarly/peer-reviewed articles, 2 should be books, and 2 should be from reference sources.

Think before you search

Taking time to make a list of possible search terms can save you time later.  You need to eventually summarize 6 good sources that offer different perspectives on wisdom that include ancient Jewish, ancient Greek, and contemporary psychological, philosophical, and theological discussions.  Create a working list of these words, audiences, disciplines, and thinkers in these fields.  For example:

wisdom Jewish ancient theology Aristotle
practical wisdom   Jews contemporary religion Thomas Aquinas  
prudence Judaism philosophy Robert Sternberg 
sophia Greek psychology    Paul Baltes
phronesis Greece Ursula Staudinger  
techne Albert Jonsen
chokhmah/hokmah  Stephen Toulmin

Chances are not all of your words will work, and you will need to add and subtract from this list as you begin searching.  This will take time, and it may be frustrating.  Your paper is due January 25, so stop and ask Dr. Lewis or ask a librarian if you are spinning your wheels!

Advance your search

Databases do not understand natural language.  This means that typing in a question or sentence generally does not produce the results you need. Instead of typing the question (what did ancient Greeks think about wisdom), return to your list of keywords.  Not all of these will work, and it will take time to figure out the best combinations.  Focusing on articles first and then books is another good strategy.

Our basic Discovery search was too broad, so take advantage of the Advanced search functions and try one combination of terms at a time.

Make sure you select the Advanced Search from the main search box.  It will open a new window where you will input your search and set some broad limits.  The following screen shots illustrate the search strategy, narrowing the focus to specific disciplines, and limiting to scholarly (peer reviewed) sources.  You will have to scroll down to see all the options.

 We significantly reduced our results, especially by limiting our search to subject terms.  You can get too narrow, so be careful.  We can shift our focus to the left to refine these results. 

On the left-hand side of the screen we can refine our results by limiting by type, subject, and language among a host of others.  We reduced this search to only 4 articles. 

If none of these are on target, simply return to the search and remove some of the limits by clicking the blue "x." 

This will require experimenting and trying different searches using the list of terms we created before we started searching.  Other possible combinations include:

Remember to set your database limits.  For a current or contemporary search, you may also want to include Psychology.

  • These guides are available to remind you of search techniques, locating full text, and the important reminder to evaluate the sources you find
  • Amy Gratz creating this general guide on annotated bibliographies and this handout.  Remember to follow Dr. Lewis' instructions outlined in your syllabus for your specific assignment.
  • Databases include options to temporarily place articles in a folder.  Once items are in a folder, you can e-mail them, save them, print them, and request that the citation be formatted for Chicago style.  Remember, Dr. Lewis has final authority on style requirement.
    • E-mail any articles in a folder before you logoff.  They are active only while you are searching
  • Stop and ask a librarian if you are not making any forward progress.
Expand your search

You need to include books and reference books in your sources. While you can do a search using Discovery, the search requires more clicks and takes longer to retrieve a precise set of search results.  The most efficient search is to limit your search to the catalog searching for the subject wisdom or wisdom literature and limiting your result to items available at the Tarver Library here in Macon. 

Two of your sources must come from Reference books.  Returning to your list of terms, these are good sources to use for searching the names as well as the terms.  These sources, located on the main floor of Tarver, may be especially helpful:

Encyclopedia of Philosophy (10 volumes)
REF B 51 .E53 2006

Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
REF B 41 .C35 2015

Encyclopedia of the Mind (2 volumes)
REF BF 441 .E53 2013

Pocket Dictionary of Ethics
REF BJ 63 .G74 2003

Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics
REF BJ 1199 .W47 1986

International Encyclopedia of Ethics (9 volumes)
REF BJ 63 .I58 2013

Encyclopedia of Religion
(15 volumes)
REF BL 31 .E46 2005

New Catholic Encyclopedia (15 volumes)
REF BX 841 .N44 2002

APA Dictionary of Psychology
REF BF 31 .A65 2007

The Wisdom Research Network at the University of Chicago ( includes a link for publications.

Reading this handout on skimming books mindfully is a good idea to make the most effective use of your time when searching books and Reference books.

  • Schedule time to search.  I know you want to focus on reading and evaluating your sources.  It will take some time to find the sources, so start early.
  • Keep your list of words and people along with disciplines and audiences updated.  Not all of your ideas will work, and you will want to add to your list as you work through finding articles and books.
  • Remember the specifics on the types of disciplines (1 each from Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology/Biblical Studies with the other 3 from these, or Theology, or another discipline) and sources (2 each from articles, books, and reference works).
  • Style matters, and your focus will be the Chicago manual.  We often use the Purdue OWL.  Librarians are available to review your citations, and Dr. Lewis has the final word.
  • Taking time to search and working through initial frustrations is part of the process, but spinning your wheels and getting nowhere is not!  Stop and ask if you need help!