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Recognizing Scholarly Sources in History

History is a topic with broad interest that extends beyond history scholars. For this reason, you must pay particular attention to the quality and audience of the sources you will use in your research. Look for substantial sources that clearly display indicators of scholarliness:

  • Authority: Written by a history scholar with an advanced academic credential, published by a reputable academic organization.
  • Audience: Aimed at an academic audience.
  • Process: The source should be based on substantial original research (look for footnotes and bibliography), and be peer-reviewed.

Examples: Scholarly Sources

Examples: Non--scholarly sources:

  • Book review - note the book price, a clue that this is a review.
  • Magazine article - note the short length and that the author has no academic credential.
  • Website - note the absence of footnotes and that no individual author is listed.

Find Books & Articles Using LibrarySearch

LibrarySearch is the best starting point for finding books and articles at MRU

  • Within the search results, don't overlook items that seem broadly related to your topic. Look at the item descriptions and article abstracts, chapter headings of books, or do quick keyword searches of ebooks to see if your narrower or more specific topic discussed.
  • Put important phrases inside quotation marks e.g., "consumer culture" 
  • Put synonyms inside brackets to search for either one at the same time e.g., (automobiles OR cars) 

Pro Tip
For some topics, it can be difficult to find narrow a topic successfully via your search terms. Try limiting your search by selecting Subject from the options on the right side, then choose a relevant subject tag from the list of options.
LlibrarySearch subject filter


Pro Tip
Did you know you can lock your filters in place in Library Search? Hover your cursor over the limit and click to look it in place. Now, even if you change your search terms, the limit will stay in place.

Image of option to lock in a filter. Cursor is hovering over the limit and image of lock appears.

History-Specific Journal Article Databases

If you find yourself overwhelmed with results in LibrarySearch you can try some of the following journal article databases which search fewer, but potentially more relevant, journals.

Use the same strategies you used in LibrarySearch, and be sure to use the advanced search options and filters to improve results.

Materials Beyond MRU Library

Primary Sources for Consumer History

Emergence of Advertising in America - Duke University collection of advertisements, 1850-1920.

Smithsonian: Warshaw Collection of Business American a 1724-1977  - Largest advertising ephemera collection in the USA.

Ad*Access - US and Canadian advertisements covering beauty and hygiene, radio, television, transportation and World War II propaganda, 1911-1955.

Consumer Advertising During the Great Depression: A Resource Guide - Covers many different aspects of advertising during this period, including grocery advertising and gender in advertising, 

MRU Library Primary Sources for US History - try the historical newspaper section, the Library of Congress and National Archives links.





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Alice Swabey
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