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HIS131 - World History 1 - Sherf

Researching History

Researching ancient civilizations is often subject to interpretation. Many ancient cultures lacked lasting documentation, therefore, most of what we understand of these groups today is based on the archaeological record. Artifacts are interpreted and placed within the time and place of the civilization. You will be working with these interpretations to understand groups, themes, and events in history.

Use the tabs in this box to research your topic. Try more than one database, and be flexible and patient with your searching. Some helpful tips are listed below.

Evaluating and interpreting historical research

  • Evaluate each source to determine if it is primary or secondary, scholarly or popular and if you are using it appropriately
  • Understand there are gaps in the historical record
  • Think critically about the credibility of sources
  • Determine the credentials and intent of an author before using a source
  • Consider how the historical context in which the information was originally created, accessed, and distributed would affect its message
  • Contextualize primary and secondary source materials within the larger debates surrounding the writing of history

(Adapted from the ALA's Information Literacy Guidelines and Competencies for Undergraduate History Students)


Search Vocabulary

1. Initiate multiple searches within a database looking at your core research concepts and utilizing synonyms, broader terms and narrower terms for each concept.

(Example: If your Concept = Power, alternative terms to try might be authority, ruler, official, king, pharaoh, etc...) 

2. Use historically appropriate terms when searching for primary sources in databases and on the Internet.

3. Try using subject terms found within source records to see if they improve the relevancy of your results.


Mining Bibliographies

Look at the list of references at the end of secondary and tertiary sources.  Make notes of any scholarly works, for example books published by academic presses, and primary source materials.

History Databases