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Identifying scholarly history sources

Quickly scan the following sources to determine whether they are scholarly.

1) Sorcery in New France

Scholarly: 2 votes (8.7%)
Non-scholarly: 21 votes (91.3%)
Total Votes: 23
Scholarly: 20 votes (100%)
Non-scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 20
Scholarly: 18 votes (85.71%)
Non-scholarly: 3 votes (14.29%)
Total Votes: 21
Scholarly: 18 votes (78.26%)
Non-scholarly: 5 votes (21.74%)
Total Votes: 23

Narrowing Your Topic

Some strategies for generating and narrowing research topics include:

Use a good search strategy to look for sources

Build your vocabulary: As you browse possible sources, read book/chapter and article titles carefully to help improve your search vocabulary and narrow your topic. The larger and more flexible your search vocabulary, the more successful you will be. 

Use keywords and short phrases: never use sentences or sentence fragments. Choose keywords that are vital to your topic. Use terms an expert would use, avoiding slang. Your course outline offers some good starting points.

  • A good search
    "new france" women (native OR indigenous OR aboriginal)
  • A poor search
    experience of Indigenous women in New France

Don't settle for the first results you find: the most relevant results aren't always on the top of the list or on the first page of results. Browse through for the best sources, not the easiest ones to find.

Search for books, book chapters, and journal articles in LibrarySearch

Use the MRU LibrarySearch tool - the search box on the library homepage - to find information in all formats (books, journal articles, videos, magazines) simultaneously.

Your task: Find two books and/or journal articles on your topic - "pin" them to a list and email to yourself.

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)

Use a History-Specific Journal Database

Using history-specific research tools can often return more relevant results, more quickly.

Your task:

  • Go to the Article tab of this database and open the database America History and Life 
  • Find two journal articles related to your research topic.
  • Experiment with the advanced search.
  • As you search, look for new keywords, along with narrower and broader ideas related to your topic.  Write them down.
  • Email the articles to yourself. 

Chicago Style Citation

Alice Swabey's picture
Alice Swabey
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