Skip to Main Content

Tips for Finding Relevant Secondary Sources

- Change your search terms often when searching for your sources, and think of alternate ways to express your ides.
         world war II  --  world war 1939 - 1945  --  second world war

19th century -- nineteenth century -- 1800s

- Look for seed documents on your topic (recent books, articles inside specialized encyclopedias), then mine the footnotes and/or bibliography for related sources.

- Pay close attention to book results - books are an important form of scholarly dissemination in the field of History. 

  • Browse the contents or chapter headings in the item descriptions to assess for relevance, or to identify possible essay topics.
  • Look for Subject Headings  (they look like hashtags) in the item descriptions in LibrarySearch, to help improve your search terms, and for links to related titles. 

- Use Google Scholar's cited by function to check for who has cited the sources you've already found. This can lead you to more recent items on the same topic.

Finding & Recognising Scholarly Secondary Sources for History

Recognising and finding scholarly sources 10:00 min
This video explains how to recognize scholarly secondary sources in the discipline of History, and how to find them at MRU using our main library search tool LibrarySearch.
Skip straight to advice for using MRU LibrarySearch: 3:33


Use the MRU LibrarySearch tool

The search box on the library homepage to find at books and journal articles on your topic. 

Try limiting searches by:

  • using the sidebar options (e.g. limit results to only relevant subjects, or to preferred resource type, e.g., books)
  • using the advanced search to search for important terms in the subject or title fields on the drop-down menus.
  • refining results to only peer-reviewed sources (searches only within scholarly journals)
  • Sign in for enhanced results, to save "pinned" favourites lists and search queries.

Sample search on the history of European nationalism - look closely at the search terms; you can use this search as a model for your own searches, by adding/removing terms to customize to your essay topic.

Find Articles in a History-Specific Database

How to Get Items MRU Does Not Own

Chicago Style Citation



Profile Photo
Alice Swabey
Drop-in help Mondays 12-2 at the Library Service Desk. Appointments available via Google Meet or in-person. Email help is also available.