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Finding the Original Book or Document Your Excerpt Was Taken From

Looking for the book or larger work from which your excerpt was taken? 

1. In Sources of the Western Tradition, you will find information as to the original source of the reading at the bottom of the page. Use the LibrarySearch tool to check to see if the Library has that work in their collection.

Screenshot of LibrarySearch tool with the search terms machiavelli price

If the specific edition of the source is not available through the Library, you may use a different translation or edition of the text instead.

Use the Resource Type limit to focus on books only or the Author limit to focus your results on results by the person, not about them.

Image of limit for author or creator in the library search tool


2. If the Library doesn't appear to have the book mentioned in Sources, try searching for the author and title of the speech or text in LibrarySearch. In some cases, it may be included in a different collection of the author's works or we may have the primary source material. Staff at the Library's Service Desk or on chat may also be able to help if the search is proving tricky.

3. In some cases, it may not be possible to access a copy of the original text. In that case, focus your search on finding enough scholarly articles or books that discuss your figure and their significance to ensure you meet the minimum sources required for the assignment.

Secondary Sources: Books

LibrarySearch is the best way to find print and electronic books relating to your historical figure or the period in which they lived.

Screenshot of LibrarySearch tool with the search words women french revolution

LibrarySearch isn't searching within the books themselves, so you may find additional sources by searching more broadly for the issue/time period in which your historical figure was a part (e.g. suffrage women britain history). Within those books, look at the chapter headings or check the index to see if your historical figure is discussed.

Additional Tips

  • Limit your search to books by selecting Resource Type - Books from the options on the right

Image of limit by resource type in LibrarySearch. The option for books is highlighted.

  • Make sure that the book you have chosen takes a scholarly approach to the topic. These means that the book is written by an expert in the field (e.g. a Professor of History) who cites the source material they used throughout the book. Typically, these books are published by university presses (e.g. Oxford University Press) or publishers who specialize in academic publishing (e.g. Routledge)

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.

Secondary Sources: Journal Articles

You can start your search for journal articles using LibrarySearch - which is the Books, Articles and More search box on the MRU Library. If you find yourself overwhelmed with results there, you can try some of the following journal article databases which search fewer, but potentially more relevant, journals.

Use the same strategies you used to find scholarly books - look for articles about author's life, the place and time period in which they lived, and their significance using relevant search terms to describe them.

Not sure if your source is a scholarly article? They typically have the following characteristics:

  • written by an expert in the field
  • the university/institution the author is affiliated with is listed 
  • writing is formal and aimed at other experts in the field
  • sources are cited throughout
  • lengthy
  • Example of a scholarly article

Tips for Finding & Recognizing Scholarly Sources

This video explains how to recognize scholarly sources in History, and how to use LibrarySearch to find them.

Recognising and finding scholarly sources 10:00 min
Skip straight to using MRU LibrarySearch: 3:33


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Cari Merkley

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Alice Swabey
Appointments available via Google Meet. In-person appointments temporarily on-hold but back soon. Available for drop-in help at the Library Service Desk Mondays 2-4 p.m.