History Research Guide

Social Sciences Librarian

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Ed Remus
(773) 442-4474

Resources for History

Welcome to the History Research Guide. This guide will provide you with resources to help you with your research.

What is a Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Article?

What is a Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly article?

Scholarly or academic journals (also called “Refereed” journals) feature articles written by researchers and practioners who have expertise in a particular subject area. Articles in these journals are considered “peer-reviewed” when the article has been critically reviewed by a group of professional colleagues, experts, or specialists on the article’s subject matter. Thus a peer-reviewed article in a scholarly journal must be reviewed by a group of subject experts while in a popular magazine, like Time, the article may be reviewed only by an editor or editorial board.

How do I find Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly articles?

  • Use databases which have journal articles from academic sources. Avoid databases with newspaper articles and those with mainly articles from popular magazines like Time and Newsweek.
  • When you use a database, look for a box labelled “Scholarly” or “Peer Reviewed” or an option to limit your results to “Peer-Reviewed” articles.

Primary Source Documents

What is a primary source?
A primary source is firsthand observation, experience, testimony, or original documentation about a person, place, or thing.  Any document is a primary source that reveals something about its author, its intended audience, and the time and place it was written.  Primary sources are often called "the building blocks of history", because most historical scholarship involves the historian looking at primary sources related to a particular topic -- for example, diary entries, newspaper accounts, and other documents related to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 -- understanding their limitations and biases, and then using the information they provide as the evidence for making a historical argument.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Books
  • Government documents
  • Speeches
  • Memoirs, letters, diaries
  • Paintings, photographs, or political cartoons created during the particular time period being studied
  • Statistics or other data