Skip to Main Content

Course: History 1, Middle East (2024): Finding secondary sources

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source is one that was created after the event by someone who wasn't there. Examples include books, journals, magazines and websites. It isn't one that is secondary in importance!

You can review the research instruction from the Fall in this updated Understanding Secondary Sources page.

For your paper you may need to find scholarly sources. The slides below tell you the difference between a scholarly and non-scholarly source. If you're not sure, ask your teacher or a librarian.

Tips for finding secondary sources

  • While you're reading your reference article and primary source, keep a list of keywords to search for.
  • Try broad terms eg Arab Spring and narrow terms eg Tahrir Square
  • Look at the bibliography at the end of the reference article - those might be good sources.

Finding books - databases

Finding books - in print

Finding books - online

You can find books online:

  • Open Library - can be good for older books and more obscure titles. You will need to create an account to access these books, and this is free and easy.
  • Google Books - be careful! Not all books in Google Books are full text, but you can use this to check if it's worth trying to find it elsewhere.

Finding journal, magazine, and newspaper articles

The best place to look for journals and magazine articles for your research paper is through the UHS library databases (a database is an organized collection of pre-selected resources). Make sure you are looking at an article NOT a book review (though you can look for the book if it sounds worthwhile):

Look at the SFPL Libguide for resources available through the San Francisco Public Library. You will need your card number and PIN to access them. As well as access to ebooks, SFPL has many databases that we don't have including Hoopla.

Scholarly source?

You may be asked to find at least one scholarly journal article. But how do you know if an article you find is scholarly? Look at the chart in this presentation to help you work it out. If you're still not sure, ask a librarian or your teacher.

Using GoogleScholar