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Foreign Language Proficiency Exam: French: Databases & Article Indexes

General Databases

Claude Levi-Strauss

An image of Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist and philosopher, by Pablo Secca.

EBSCO Databases

The Penn libraries subscribe to more than 50 databases made available by the EBSCO company. Most of these are databases that index the scholarly literature in specific fields. That literature comes primarily from scholarly journals, although some also cover books, articles from books, dissertations, government reports, etc. The databases include MLA International Bibliographythe major database for literature, languages, folklore, and linguistics in all languages; Historical Abstracts, which covers the historical literature for the world since 1453, excluding the U.S. and Canada; America: History and Life, which covers U.S. and Canadian history; History of Science, Technology & MedicineAnthropology Plus; ATLA Religion Database; Art & Architecture Complete; EBSCO MegaFILEa multidisciplinary mix of more than 16,000 scholarly periodicals from all fields, general and popular magazines, and news sources; Education Full Text; ERIC, U.S. Dept. of Education funded database of the journal literature in education and reports (ERIC Documents); Index to Jewish Periodicals; Urban Studies Abstracts; Music IndexFRANCIS, a French-produced multidisciplinary database of the humanities and social sciences. It covers scholarly writing in a number of west European languages in addition to French. It is an online version of the print index Bulletin signaletique. 

There may be some small variations in the "Advanced Search" screen in various EBSCO databases, but every one has a language option under "Limit Your Results." Here are a few sample searches from EBSCO databases. In most cases a keyword search (do not change the "Select a Field (optional)" dropdown menu) limited to French will provide a significant number of articles in French, although, in some cases, it will be necessary to find "Subjects" (as was done in searching the Franklin catalog) to get the most relevant result. Since many proficiency exams require translation of work by major authors in the field, an Author search is sometimes indicated.

Historical Abstracts: An Author AU search on "Soboul Albert" and keyword (Select a Field) "revolution" limited to French.

ATLA Religion Database: A subject (SU) search on "russ* AND orthodox*" limited to French (an asterisk "*" truncates words, e.g., "russ*" = russe, russie, russia, russian, russians)

FRANCIS: a keyword search on Bureaucracy AND Max Weber limited to French.


ProQuest Databases

The Penn libraries subscribe to more than 50 ProQuest databases. Besides the databases that index the scholarly literature in specific fields, mainly from scholarly journals, there are fulltext newspaper databases and the very useful Proquest Dissertations and Theses Fulltext. Among the databases that focus primarily on the scholarly journal literature are Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals; British Humanities Index (BHI); EconLit; Environment AbstractsERICGeoRef; Index Islamicus‎; International Bibliography of Art (IBA)International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS);  International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text‎; PAIS International, which since 1915 indexes contemporary public affairs and policy issues worldwide; Philosopher's IndexPsycINFO; Sociological AbstractsWorldwide Political Science Abstracts.

In the "Advanced Search" screen inProQuest databases, there is a "Language" limit under "Search options" in the lower part of the screen.  Here are a few sample ProQuest searches. In most cases an "Anywhere" search limited to French will provide a significant number of articles in French, although, in some cases, it will be more effective to figure out the most appropriate "Subject heading (SU)" to get the largest, most relevant result. Since ProQuest searches are not stable, there are no direct links to the search results.

PAIS: Doing an Anywhere search using French words can produce a significant result -- and different! -- from an English language search: "(moyen orient) AND developpement," as opposed to a search on equivalent English terms "(middle east) AND development" limited to French language, though searching on either set together "((moyen orient) AND developpement  OR (middle east) AND development)" produces a result larger than either.

Philospher's Index: "rationalism" as a subject (SU) limited to French


Databases by Title and Subject

Browse the complete list of databases by title or subject. If you are accessing the page from off-campus, you will need to enter your PennKey and password.

Find articles in the Penn Library's electronic & print collections

If an article is not available at/through Penn Libraries

Use the Request Article icon on the left side of the page.

Browsing E-Journals

Rather than undertaking a search through a database, one can simply access e-journals that include a large amount of French-language content. Below are some examples in the fields of history, area studies, anthropology, economics, linguistics, mathematics, musicology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, as well as others that more broadly cover the humanities and social sciences. It is also possible to use one of the large French aggregators listed under "General Databases," such as PERSEE or, and browse through the fulltext journals there, instead of initiating a search.

Historian Marc Bloch

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