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History 9B: Find Relevant Sources

Research Project Guide for History 9B

Research Strategy

A good way to scaffold your research is to begin with broader sources and then move to more narrow sources. This way, you'll be developing more expertise and understanding to help you sift through more narrow sources. (Research Pie!)

  1. Start with reference overviews from encyclopedias
  2. Next, find book chapters or excerpts on your topic
  3. Then, begin searching for articles and pertinent websites
  4. Finally, tackle primary sources.

Reference Sources

Why start with reference sources?

Reference sources like encyclopedias offer great overviews and are a good place to begin research.

Books and ebooks

How do I use books to research my topic?

Finding information in books is a vital part of the research process. Lengthy books can be daunting, though. Here are a few ways to tackle books to make them worth your while.

  1. Use the index. I think the index is more important than the table of contents! it is located in the back of the book, and you can look for keywords that you collected during your background research.
  2. Use the table of contents to find chapters that will be most relevant to your research.
  3. Skim areas to find your keyword, then read the paragraph or surrounding pages to get more context.
  4. You can even use Google Books or Amazon's Search Inside feature to search the full text of a print book that doesn't have a good index or table of contents.


Articles come in many forms. Newspaper articles are often considered primary sources. Magazine and journal articles are typically secondary sources, and they are great to reference when you are researching.

It is best to wait to search for articles after you've done quite a bit of research on background information and in books. By now, you'll have a better idea of what you are looking for.