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HIST 213: World History, 600-2000

Research guide for HIST 213 (Fall 2023)

Secondary Sources

A secondary source is an information source created after the period you are studying​. This can include academic sources, such as scholarly monographs or peer-reviewed journal articles which typically present an argument about what happened in the past using evidence​ drawn from primary sources. There are also non-traditional or non-academic sources such as public history websites, documentaries, and even personal views.

Historical Interpretations

Source 3: A peer-reviewed publication of a historian

Academic historians typically publish their research in two forms: (1) scholarly books called monographs, and (2) articles in peer-reviewed journals.

TIP! After locating a book or article, search for the author to ensure they are a historian, and not working from another discipline.

Find a scholarly monograph

A scholarly monograph is a single-authored book usually published by an academic or university press (such as Oxford University Press, McGill-Queen's University Press, or Routledge). Scholarly monographs are peer reviewed, meaning that other historians read the book before it was published to offer suggestions and corrections.

The best place to look for books or eBooks is the Library Catalogue. Try using quotation marks for exact phrase searching and combining keywords using the Boolean operator AND. 


"Berlin Wall" AND politics

Other tips:

  • Filter your search by format to Book to exclude irrelevant results
  • Do not search for 1989, as this will bring up many irrelevant results (such as a well-known album by this name)
  • Look out for related terms -- the catalogue may automatically include irrelevant (or useful!) related terms

Find a peer-reviewed article

Scholarly articles appear in academic journals and have undergone a process called peer review. They consist of original research and are intended to be read by students, scholars, and researchers. The best place to look for peer-reviewed articles are in specialized databases that you have access to via library subscriptions. These databases index articles on specific topics, which you can then access through the McGill Library.


  • Always use the Advanced Search option
  • Search in Abstract (preferred), Anything But Full Text (NOFT - not always an option), or Subject Terms rather than full text
  • Limit to peer-reviewed 
  • Consider limiting by language and publication date

Individual Interpretations

Source 4: An account provided on a present-day social media platform

Try searching the internet more generally or any social media platform to find public opinions expressed about a particular event.


  • Focus on exact phrase searching ("Berlin Wall")
  • Know how the social media platform aggregates, such as through the use of hashtags (#berlinwall)
  • Look up the author or content creator so you can learn more about their approach and biases, which will help you to better understand their point of view

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