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History: Evaluating Your Sources

Suggested resources for the study of history.

Why do we prefer peer-reviewed articles?

Peer-Reviewed (sometimes called refereed or scholarly) articles are written by experts and reviewed by several other experts in the field before the article is published in order to ensure the article's quality. Theses articles are more likely to be scientifically valid, reach reasonable conclusions, etc.

Why Using Library Databases is a Best Practice

Library Databases

Web Searching

Internet or web interfaces (NCLive or any other subscription database, etc)

Internet or web interfaces (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc)

Selective Content, Overwhelmingly peer/scholar reviewed

Non-selective content. Anyone, with any agenda can publish on the web.  No vetting process

Includes citations, and usually an abstract, or may be citations only

Usually only full text, does not always have citations, but may contain footnotes

Field Searching by Title, Author, Keyword, Date Published, etc.

Selective engines allow field searching, but in general, simple search boxes are used.


Evaluating Information

Scholarly versus Non-Scholarly Articles

  Scholarly Non-Scholarly


The sharing of research, experiments, studies in order to better the profession

Entertaining, information in a broad sense

Intended Audience

Researchers, Academic Students, Faculty Members, College Audiences

General Public Audience


Professional associations, university publishing houses or a scholarly commercial publisher

Commercial Publishing Companies


Contents are selectively published, and information is reviewed by scholars and experts in the field

May be factual, but not scholarly. Magazines often publish fluff/opinion pieces, which are not peer-reviewed

Language Use

Specialized vocabulary, jargon of the field

Non-technical, conversational

Article Length

Most often lengthy, ranging from 10-40 pages

Usually short, 1-8 pages


Black text, white paper

Glossy paper, color photographs, colored, stylized text