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History 111/112 (Western Civilization)

This guide should help students in History 111 and History 112 find the resources needed for annotated bibliographies and research papers.

Welcome to the History 111 and 112 (Western Civilization) Research Guide!

Image of ancient tapestry

This Research Guide should help students in HIS 111 or HIS 112 use library resources to find books and articles needed to complete class research assignments.

Topic Background - Reference Resources

Reference Resources include materials like Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Thesauri and Atlas's. They can be a great introduction to a topic and can help you become familiar with the keywords, names and events associated with your topic.

Try these online reference resources from the Library.

Getting Started with History Research

Identifying Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed Articles

A scholarly or peer-reviewed article or source usually has a few key features:

  • An article was published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning a group of peers or an editorial board reviewed the article before publication.
  • A book was published by a scholarly press (University of Michigan, Harvard, Yale)
  • The book or article author is an academic who works at a College or University or has established credentials (PhD, etc.)

Peer review is the process by which scholarly articles are vetted by experts in a discipline, who critique an article’s methodology, findings, and reasoning. Editors of scholarly journals use the peer review process to decide which articles to publish, and the academic world relies on the peer review process to validate scholarly articles.

Using Keywords

It is helpful to break your topic down into keywords that you can plug into the databases. Searching with full sentences does not turn out well. Try something like this:

My research topic is how did disease affect soldiers in the civil war?

I would pull out my keywords and think of synonyms.

Disease Civil War
small pox American Civil War
pneumonia Civil War, 1861-1865
disease or diseases  

This is how I would enter my search terms into OneSearch.

This video from Portland State University demonstrates using a good search strategy for library databases. 

What is a Primary Source?

Primary Sources are materials that contain firsthand accounts of events and that created at the time of the events or later recalled by an eyewitness (note: these items don't have to look "old", they can be transcripts of original material). Examples Include:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Government, church and business records
  • Oral Histories
  • Photographs
  • Motion Pictures and videos
  • Maps and land records
  • Blueprints
  • Original Research (can be journal articles) and Data

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary Sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research. Examples include:

  • Books
  • Magazine and some journal articles (articles with original research data are primary)
  • Documentaries
  • Data Analysis

What is a Tertiary Source?

Tertiary Sources contain information that has been compiled from primary and secondary sources. Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes and Abstracts
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks