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HIST 11A-12A: War & Society in Modern Age

A guide for anyone embarking on historical research, but specifically for students in Wigmore's HIST 11A-12A

What is a scholarly article?

Activity #3

Activity #3

This activity is designed to get you started for your Article Review assignment, which will help you with your Research/Historiographical Project.

Assignment details. You need to review:

  • A scholarly article of your choosing
  • Published during the last 20 years
  • 10 pages or longer
  • Peer-reviewed in a scholarly journal or published as a chapter in a scholarly book
  • Written by an historian


Can you find one today that fits this criteria?



  • Pick a database from the list below, preferably America: History and Life or Historical Abstracts to search
  • Enter the database, strategize your search terms, and utilize limiters
  • Spend 15 minutes searching for a great article or book chapter you could use for this assignment
  • Once you find a good one, upload the PDF or post the permalink to our class Padlet (question #3). 

Tips for evaluating an article for scholarliness:

  • Length: scholarly articles are usually pretty long, over 5 pages
  • References: they usually have a long bibliography that includes primary source evidence as well as secondary sources
  • Credentials of the author: Who is the author? Do they have a PhD? In what? Do they teach at a University or college?
  • If you are not sure if an article is peer-reviewed, Google the name of the journal it is published in and read the ABOUT contents on its website
  • You can also check if a journal is peer-reviewed by looking it up in Ulrichsweb, the authoritative index of all periodicals. If it says the journal is "refereed," that means it is peer-reviewed.

We will examine three random articles from the Padlet as a class and see if they fit the assignment criteria at the end.

Sources for Scholarly Articles

Sources for Scholarly Articles

You may be familiar with Google Scholar, but the Library subscribes to hundreds of databases that give you info only found on the "deep web" behind a paywall. Below are some good databases for your historical research.

History databases:

To get a list of all the databases available at SCU, go to the Library's website and click the DATABASES tab. From there you can specifically look at the history databases.

Best Journals for War Research

Best Journals for War Research

Articles found in the following journals might be particularly relevant for your topics. Click on the link to access a journal and browse it or search inside it.

What's the difference between a journal and a database? The databases above contain the full-text of dozens of journals, so it is a wider search. By searching or browsing the contents of only one journal, as you can do with the links below, you are doing a much more narrow and targeted search.

How to Search the Databases

How to Search the Databases:

Just enter keywords describing your topic.  Use the connector AND between your keywords or enter keywords in different search boxes.    For example if you are interested in the role Teddy Roosevelt played in the creation of the National Parks, you would do a search like this:

-Use quotation marks around a phrase, such as "National Parks".

-​You can use synonyms or related terms to describe your topics.  For example, "National Parks" or Conservation

-You can also use an asterisk at the end of a word to retrieve various endings.  For example, park* would retrieve park, parks, and parking

When you look at your list of results in the database, if the full-text of an article is not readily available, click on the Find it @ SCU Libraries link to see if it's available in another database or in print in the library.

If it's not, you will have the option of using the Interlibrary Loan Service.  It's free and very fast!