Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2015     Views: 33

We often get questions from students who have an assignment where they need scholarly articles about contributions that other (non-western) cultures have made to calculus. 

First, here is information on what is the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly articles, how to find scholarly articles, and how to tell if what you are looking at is a scholarly article:

If you put in non-western contributions to calculus or something like that, you won't get many good search results. The reason for that is that the database can only match the words and phrases you type in with the words and phrases found in the articles. So you need to speculate about the words and phrases authors would be using to describe the topic. In particular, there were quite a few non-western cultures that contributed ideas to calculus, so you will need to specify which ones. 

To find out which cultures/civilizations contributed to calculus, you will need to do a little preliminary research using reference resources. Wikipedia ( is fine to use for this kind of getting ideas and background information. You can look up anything you find in Wikipedia in Wolfram Math World ( for more detail. 

So now you are ready to look it up in the database in order to find scholarly articles.

This topic is the history of math, so it isn't immediately obvious which databases you should be searching in. Mathematics databases tend to be about the math itself. We need something more about intellectual and cultural history. From experience with this research question, the best ones to look in are JSTOR and ScienceDirect. You can get to both of them by going to the library web site and clicking Article Databases. Then either use the search box at the top to search for your database by its name, or scroll down to the name of the database and click it to log in with your college login and password.

In order to search the database, you need to have your keywords and understand a bit about Boolean operators. Here is some information about how to search: and

What you are going to need to do in the database is enter something like calculus AND (X OR Y OR Z) where X, Y, and Z are the names of the cultures/civilizations. 

I hope this helps.

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