Is it a scholarly source?
Your instructor wants you to use scholarly [or 'peer reviewed'] sources. What does she mean?
- Authoritative- written by a recognized expert in the field. How do you know? The PhD is one sign; employment by a university is another.
- Peer reviewed- before publishing, the article was vetted by other scholars in the field. How do you know? Try searching the journal title in Google and read the publisher's blurb.
- Audience- written for scholars and experts in the field. How do you know? The level of the language is usually a give away. It will be technical and formal.
- Includes a bibliography and/or footnotes with citations of sources used.
Scholarship is always changing. Try to find the most recent scholarly sources you can.
Using call numbers to find books
Books and journals are arranged on our shelves according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. Each is assigned a unique call number based on its subject matter and other characteristics. Items on the same subject will often be grouped together.
In using a call number to locate a book on the shelf, consider each element in turn before moving on to the next segment.
These call numbers are arranged as they should appear on the shelves. In each case, the element shown in boldface distinguishes the number from the preceding one:
Each call number consists of several elements. For example::
The FIRST line, TK, is based on the broad subject of the book. Within Class T for technology, TK represents electrical engineering.
The SECOND line, 7881.6, defines the subject matter more finely. When looking for the book, read this as a whole number with a decimal component. In this example, TK7881.6 represents magnetic recording (a subdivision of TK— electrical engineering).
The THIRD line, M29, usually indicates author, but may also represent a further subject subdivision, geographic area, etc. There may also be a fourth line, formatted the same way. When looking for the book, read the numeric component as if it were preceded by a decimal point. In the example above, the numeric part of M29 should be read as ".29" (and the call number TK7881.6 M29 comes before TK7881.6 M4).
The YEAR of publication, such as 1993, may also be present. These file in chronological order and often indicate successive editions of a book. The call number may also have additional elements, such as volume numbers.
The Research Process
Choose a topic.
Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including
- Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest [countries, regions, cities]
Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from encyclopedias or other secondary sources. Wikipedia can be good here.
Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic. Look under the History Databases tab of this guide for article database suggestions. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.
Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.
Evaluate what you find. Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.
Refine Your Topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.
Take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research for more ideas.
As a Berkeley student you are eligible to use books and articles from other libraries around the United States.
Check OskiCat to make sure UC Berkeley does not own the material you want.
Provide a full and accurate bibliographic citation, including author, title, place and date of publication, and series. You can get citations from professors, from Melvyl, from other articles, from Google scholar. Verify your citations before submitting them for ILL.
Guide to writing history papers
Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students
A comprehensive but easy-to-skim web guide to writing history papers. Recommended by History Dept faculty.
To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.
This guide has been archived
Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.