Surprisingly few typefaces now come with true small capitals. On a full (2GB) installation of tex-live,
gives me (simplified return, typeset in LibreOffice):
After weeding out the sans serif-fonts and those that are clearly too playful to be used in academic documents, I am left with the following shortlist:
|typeface||remarks||thesis page count|
|Linux Biolinum O||funny yogh, overly wide footnote numbers||287|
|Linux Libertine O||funny yogh, overly wide footnote numbers||286|
|TeX Gyre Pagella, Schola, Termes||just a little playful; no yogh!||304, 318, 282|
|Junicode||lacks uppercase italic dotted s||274|
All the otf files came with tex-live; I installed Junicode myself. Biolinum and Libertine have the best character set (covering everything I need except the runes) and are quite pretty, but their footnote anchors take up too much horizontal space and the frivolous shape of their yogh would certainly raise a few eyebrows. The TeX Gyre fonts are very handsome, although two of them take up way too much space. Termes is the best-looking of these, however, and it is entirely spatially reasonable. But all TeX Gyre fonts are off the table since they do not contain the rudimentary Middle English yogh character.
Libertine looks just a little too round to be used in scholarship, and those footnote anchors really bother me as I have up to 300 notes per chapter. I have printed the defence text of my thesis in Junicode, but the one instance of an uppercase italic dotted s in Libertine.