Loyola University Chicago Libraries

HIST 212: United States History Since 1865: Home

Elizabeth Shermer

Fall 2020

  How can we together insure you do your best when learning online and performing digital research?

Write to me at jcurrie@luc.edu for research support, appointment requests, ebook recommendations, and instruction opportunities. All questions welcome!

Research Paper Assignment

The research tools provided in this course guide will help you locate information on the issue or event whose story you have decided to tell and to assess its relevance in our world today.

Find News Articles from the Period and Place

These articles will serve as your primary sources. The databases linked and described below present a strong sampling but not a complete list. Refer to the history research guide for a more exhaustive list.

Find Ebooks

Books continue to serve as the most authoritative and influential source of historical inquiry and analysis. Search the library catalog exclusively for ebooks and use these important books from any location, near campus or far. 

Open search notes on how to find ebooks specifically.

Find Ejournal Articles

Supplement your book sources with ejournal articles. Look for them using America: History and Life, the essential research database for American history and JSTOR, a multidisciplinary journal archive.

Effective Search Technique: Operators

You can do more than simply search your keywords! Experiment with the search methods described below and begin adopting them into your research practice. You will save time by more quickly and effectively reaching a balance between a precise search and an exhaustive one.

Most library catalogs and research databases have an advanced search that enable search operators (known as Boolean searching):

keyword: election
keyword: 1968

This search will look for the presence of both the supplied keywords.

keyword: election OR voting
keyword: 1968

This search will look for either of the first two keywords but only if it also finds the third supplied keyword.

A third but less often used operator allows a researcher to leave any item with an unwanted term out of the search results.

keyword: republican
keyword: libertarian 

This search will look for the first supplied keyword but only in the absence of the second.

Learn more about these operators and this technique using a guide from the University of Southern California. I also welcome an appointment with you during which we can apply these concepts to your research project.

Effective Search Technique: Marks

In many library catalogs and research databases, use quotation marks to conduct phrase searching. The quotation marks mean an item will only appear in a results list if the enclosed words sit side-by-side in some part of its catalog/database record.

"presidential nomination" will find these words side-by-side but will ignore the word nomination by itself

The asterisk provides another helpful mark. Insert it at the end of a root word to find all of the variations on that root, a technique known as truncation.

nomin* will find nomination, nominee, nominate, nominated


Effective Search Technique: Assessment

Before you use a source, whether a book, an article, a documentary film, or even a primary source such as an interview or diary, you want to assess it critically. Particularly important: its age, its authority, and its argument. Regarding age, know that in history an older source may have lasting value but you must also watch for methodologies no longer considered accurate or perspectives no longer valid. Regarding authority, take care to know who authored the source and their background, whether scholar or journalist. No name? Than what about the reputation of the source itself? As for argument, look at the sources used and watch for bias or propaganda. Does your assessment leave you uncertain? Find an alternative or ask a professor or a librarian for input on the source before you use it. Remember that your professor may look over your works cited page or bibliography before they ever look at your writing. Impress them! Cite authoritative sources that effectively made their argument, an argument that logically connects to your own.

Watch this three-minute video from University Libraries at North Carolina State University and get a multidisciplinary understanding of source evaluation. The NCSU library produces videos in partnership with the Department of Computer Science.

Subject Librarian

Jane Currie's picture
Jane Currie
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