How It Works
How documents are selected
At the core of this knowledge base is a collection of digitized primary sources. Most of these documents have never been published before, although we do include some important materials that have been known to and used by scholars. We employ two methods to select and add documents to the RPI:
1. Direct archival work.
Affiliated scholars and archivists conduct focused field research and identify specific documents for inclusion in our knowledge base. These documents can be grouped into five main categories that also represent the current search criteria (we may expand this list in the future):
Religion (aspects of history and religious tradition and thought, legal issues, organization and interaction with secular authorities, etc.)
Nationalities question/Nation building
2. Curated collections.
These sub-collections include the materials resulting from scholarly work by individual researchers on some specific topics. Scholars, as they prepare their articles, monographs, anthologies, and other traditional publications, sift through a huge volume of primary sources, only a fraction of which gets published or referenced on paper. Our platform allows to preserve, organize, and share this formidable array of relevant materials. These collections are annotated and introduced by the scholars, and become part of the general pool of documents in the knowledge base. They work in synergy with, and serve as an online documentary extension of, the traditional publications.
How to Navigate the Documents
Browse Collections and Exhibits show curated sets of documents on specific topics assembled and introduced by specialists. For example,
Muslims and the Civil War;
Soviet Muslim Posters;
Religious Boards of Transcaucasian Muslims, etc.
- Keyword: similar to Google Search, a keyword search returns results ordered by relevance. Searching on "ancient warfare" will prioritize records that contain the full string "ancient warfare", but will also include records that contain the individual words "ancient" or "warfare".
Boolean: allows greater fine-tuning than keyword search but does not return results by relevance. Do this by using certain characters at the beginning or end of words in the search string. Some examples:
+: a leading plus sign indicates that this word must be present in each row that is returned.
-: a leading minus sign indicates that this word must not be present in any of the rows that are returned.
*: an appended asterisk serves as the truncation (or wildcard) operator. Words match if they begin with the word preceding the * operator.
" ": a phrase that is enclosed within double quote characters matches only rows that contain the phrase literally, as it was typed.
More special characters and further information about boolean search can be found on the MySQL website.
Exact match: returns records that contain at least one match to the order of words entered, like "Civil War". Use this search type if you need to search short words, like "war", and the keyword/boolean searches do not produce results.
Advanced Search is a powerful tool for complex customized inquiries. It allows to narrow the search by individual fields, such as Archive, Fond, Opis, List, Date, Translation, etc, and any combination of them. For example, a search that includes “Transcription / Is not empty” will render all documents that have been transcribed. Combined with “Translation / Is empty” and “GARF” as the keyword will limit that list to documents from the State Archive of the Russian Federation that have been transcribed, but not yet translated, etc.
Save your searches.
Once you build your search, and run it, you can bookmark the results page in your browser. Next time you follow this link, this search will run again to reflect the changes to the collection that have happened since your last visit.
How to Manage and Organize Your Materials
At Mason, we understand the need of individual scholars to conduct research using a variety of different sources. We do not see the RPI as the sole platform for such research, but hope that it will be a starting or finishing point of scholarly inquiry. Therefore, we encourage users to employ robust research management tools to organize their materials across repositories. RPI is equipped to work seamlessly with Zotero, a free and open source research management tool that functions directly in the web browser. Once a user has Zotero installed, they should be able to save document citations and take notes on those documents. For more on Zotero, consult the "Quick Start Guide."
How to Use and Contribute
If you are a scholar, we invite you to use this collection for initial inquiry, as well as to collaborate with us as you do research for your monograph, article, anthology, dissertation or a course paper. We want to publish an expanded selection of your primary sources that will complement your printed work, and your introduction that will help others navigate these materials.
We are looking for volunteer translators to help translate the most important documents and commentary into English.