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HIST 111 Origins of the Modern World: Find Books & Scholarly Journal Articles

Guide for Dr. Schultz's HIST 111 course

How to evaluate secondary sources

What is a secondary source?

In the discipline of History, secondary sources are works of synthesis and interpretation.  Authors develop interpretations and narratives based on based on consultation of primary sources (documents and other evidence created by participants or eyewitnesses) as well as secondary sources written by other historians.


How do I determine if a book/article is scholarly? 

Examine the following when deciding if to use a particular source:


1. Author's credentials :  

Does the author have a Ph.D. in history or are they a journalist who writes on a variety of topics but is not an expert?

HINT :  Look at back flap of a book's cover or the bottom of the first page or last page of the journal article for this information.  If all else fails, Googling the author's name can usually help you find out if someone is an expert.


2. Publisher :  
Is the book a university presses (ex. Oxford University Press)  or a scholarly press?

Is the journal peer-reviewed and/or  published by a scholarly organization?

HINT: You can Google the publisher to find out if their audience is scholarly.


3. Notes/Bibliography: 

Does the work have an extensive notes/bibliography which includes both primary and secondary sources?


4. Currency:  

When was the item published?  Materials published in the last 30 years (since ca.1990) reflect the most current thinking on a topic.


CLICsearch book search

Results here are limited to books, ebooks, and book chapters.

Find Journal Articles

Use the following databases to find scholarly and peer-reviewed articles on your topic.