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Secondary Historical Sources

A guide to finding secondary historical sources. Details on using JSTOR, OneSearch, Google Scholar and other search engines. How to order materials via interlibrary loan. How to determine if a journal is both peer-reviewed and well-regarded.

Checking for Peer-Review - Three Options

Here are three methods for the checking peer-reviewed (refereed) status of a journal:

  1. OneSearch - easiest method if you have the title of an article
  2. UlrichsWeb - most comprehensive list of journals (currently only works on campus) (must have journal name)
  3. Scholar's Portal - if you're off campus and you only have the name of the journal


About Peer Review and Databases that limit to Peer-Reviewed Journals


Peer-Review Check - Option #1 - OneSearch (library website)

 Search the title of your article in OneSearch to see if the journal it comes from is Peer-Reviewed. Click on Expand My Results if the article doesn't appear in the results.


If the journal that this article was published in a blue icon and PEER REVIEWED label will appear in the results.


If your article doesn't appear in the OneSearch results -
which will happen if we don't subscribe to the journal -
you can still generate a OneSearch record by clicking on
the option Expand My Results -
found on the right-hand side of the results page.



Peer-Review Check - Option #2 - "UlrichsWeb"


For instance if I search for journals with the phrase "Civil War" in the title UlrichsWeb indicates that:

Civil War Quarterly is not refereed

Civil War News is not

Civil War History is refereed (Civil War History is peer reviewed)


Type the title of a journal into UlrichsWeb to determine if it is refereed (also known as peer-reviewed).  Refereed journals will be indicated by a black-and-white-referee-shirt icon. You can also click on the name of the journal in this database to find out if the journal is refereed.



WARNING  the black-and-white referee shirt icon is the icon to watch for when determining if a journal is peer-reviewed (refereed).  Do not pay any attention to the gold stars (which are labeled "reviewed" ... but in this case that just means the journal was "reviewed" by a librarian for UlrichsWeb ... it does NOT mean that the journal is "peer reviewed").


You can also click on the title of the entry - e.g. Civil War History - and then click on the option "Additional Title Details" which will also confirm that the journal is indeed "peer reviewed".


UlrichsWeb Additional Title Details will indicate if a journal is refereed (peer-reviewed)

Peer-Review Check - Option #3 - "Scholar's Portal"


About Peer Review and Databases that limit to Peer-Reviewed Journals

To maintain high levels of quality and reliability, the most respected and dependable journals require all manuscripts (potential articles) to be reviewed by other experts (peers) to determine whether the submitted scholarship meets the high standards of the journal.

This process is called peer review and journals that utilize peer review are often referred to as refereed journals.  


To be sure you are using the highest quality research and scholarship in your projects you should gather your materials from peer reviewed journals / refereed journals   


How can you be sure you are working with a peer-reviewed journal?


When searching OneSearch you can limit your results after you search by clicking on the "Peer-reviewed Journals" option found on the right-hand column of the results page:

The Peer-reviewed Journal option in OneSearch (the Rod Library search engine)


However, you might find an article using Google Scholar. Since you can't limit to peer-reviewed journals with these techniques you need to use the database UlrichsWeb or the Scholar's Portal to determine if the journal that published your article was refereed (peer-reviewed).