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Strategies for identifying key and current research on your topic

​​​​​​Look for "seed documents" to introduce you to key authors, publications and historiography on your topic 

Recommended Reference Sources

Bibliography Mining & Citation Chaining

  • Carefully study the relevant texts you discover - start with the list of recommended titles in your course outline, and recent publications on the topic.
  • Look at the introductions of these books for the main sources and scholars mentioned there; look for a discussion of methods/methodology, and mention of key works
  • Next, mine the footnotes and bibliography - what research is cited in these books/article?
    • Make note of key sources cited in the text, then look for them in LibrarySearch or Google Scholar.
  • Follow citation trails, to see who has cited these texts

    • Look in Google Scholar for "cited by" results for the titles you discovered above, then limit to more recent citations. 

    • Pursue the citation trails in LibrarySearch to see what other texts a source has cited, and also who has cited it. Note that in LibrarySearch, this is possible only for journal articles, book results are not included. 

    • In the database Historical Abstracts, go to the Cited References button at the top of the screen. Enter your title and author name, then follow instructions for viewing cited articles.

What Reviews Can Do For You

Tips for Finding Review Articles

In the Historical Abstracts database and in LibrarySearch

  • Along with your topic search terms, search for the term historiography in the subject term field.

This will retrieve articles discussing previous research on a topic that can alert you to key authors, significant studies, and key theoretical approaches that historians have used to address this topic.

  • Try searching for variations of the terms historiography, historians, scholars, etc. in the abstract field, along with terms about your topic. This should also retrieve articles that discuss the work of previous scholars.

In any search tool, search for a book title or it's topic and:

  • Go to the Advanced Search and limit to "book review," OR
  • Add "book review" or "review article" or "review essay" or "literature review" to your search

Finding Secondary Sources in MRU's LibrarySearch

Find scholarly books and articles using MRU's LibrarySearch

  • On the library homepage, use the Books, articles & more box.

  • To to find scholarly journal articles, check "peer-reviewed" on the right side of the screen.

  • To find books, filter by "resource type" to "books" on the right side of the screen.

  • Try the Advanced Search option, and use the drop-down menus to search for important search terms in the Subject or Titles of library items.

  • Use * to find all possible endings of a word: historiograph* (will find historiograph-y, historiograph-ies, historiograph-ical)

Finding and Accessing Books & Articles in MRU's LibrarySearch 5:32 min

Find Secondary Sources in a HIstory-Specific Database

How to find secondary sources in the database Historical Abstracts
2 minutes

What happens if the library does not have the items you need?

If our library does not have the journal or book chapter you need, you can request them through the InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service. The service is free, and the library will find the article for you at another university.

*Note that during the pandemic, ILL is only available for digital items - electronic journal articles and book chapters. Entire books are not eligible for ILL right now. If you need an entire book, ask Alice for advice.

MRU Interlibrary Loan Service

or try Google Scholar. Make sure you have the Library Links settings configured to link you to MRU Library.