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HST 261 - American History since 1865: for Benjamin Fitzpatrick's students

Instructional Guide to Dr. Benjamin Fitzpatrick's HST 261 class

Relevant Encyclopedias

Locate Journal Articles

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups are also primary sources. In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies—research where an experiment was performed or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research.

Peer Review

What is Peer Review?

It is the quality control system for scholarship.  It means that articles in a peer-reviewed journal must be scrutinized by experts before they are published.  SYNONYMS = 'academic', 'juried', 'refereed', 'scholarly'.

How can you tell when something is peer-reviewed?

1) When you are looking at a print copy, of an entire issue of a journal, the editorial board of scholars with academic credentials and institutional affiliations will be listed somewhere.  These are the 'peers' that review each published article.

2) Use a check box limit in your database search (when available).