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Research Guides

HIS102: Empires, Encounters, and Exchanges: From the Silk Road to the Present

Journal articles

Use the Library website to find journal articles

Begin your search at the library homepage. From the "Start your search" search box, you can find books, journals, and other resources in our library catalogue in addition to searching for articles across multiple databases.

In the search box, type in the keywords relevant to your research topic. 


For example, if your topic is about the Jews in 14th century Barcelona, you can enter the keywords

jews barcelona medieval

You will get a list of results organized into different information source types, such as Articles, Books, Journals & Databases, and more! To find scholarly articles, underneath the Format section check off Articles or under Show Only check off Peer-reviewed articles



Narrow down your list to get better articles

Sometimes you will get hundreds of results. Use the filters in the left hand sidebar to narrow down your list of articles. You can filter your search results by Subject, Language, and Publication Date.


You can also narrow down your search results by adding different keywords. If you are looking for a specific phrase or multi-word term, such as the Industrial Revolution put the phrase in quotes: "industrial revolution"


Identifying book reviews

While searching for journal articles, you may come across book reviews. Examine the citation for the article to distinguish between journal articles and book reviews. 

Book reviews

  • "Book Review" may be a subject heading in the search results
  • The author of the review and the author of the book are sometimes both indicated
  • The book publisher information may be included in the title
  • Books reviews are often short (only a couple pages)


Use the Library website to find books

In the library homepage search box, type in the keywords relevant to your research topic. When searching for books, remember to use simple, broad keywords.

From the list of results, go to the Books section, and click on All Books to see the the library catalogue search results.

Narrow down your list of books

You can refine your search with various filters on the left sidebar, such as Library, Subject, Language, Subject Time Period, and Publication Date.



For ebooks, you can also click on the Online checkbox underneath Show Only.. 

If you want to see the most recent books at the top right, use the drop down menu next to Sort by to change from Relevance to Date-newest. .

How to find a book in Robarts library

  1. Look at the call number for the book in the catalogue record: e.g. DP103 .M55 2008X
  2. Take the elevators from the 1st-5th floors of Robarts Library.
  3. The books at Robarts are on the 9th to 13th floor.  The Robarts Library Stack Guide tells you which call numbers are on which floor, according to the first letter or letters. In this case, DP is on the 10th floor, with most other history books. 
  4. Once you are on the floor, find the section with the correct letters. Then work your way through each line of the call number.
  5. To sign out your book, take it back to the 1st floor and use one of the automatic machines. If you need help, ask at the loan services desk.

Choosing the best sources

When choosing books or articles for your paper, consider the following:

  • Are they relevant to your topic, and the argument that you wish to make?
  • Are they current? Some of your sources should reflect current research.
  • Are they substantial? Beware of an article that is only a couple of pages.
  • Are they scholarly? Distinguish between popular and scholarly sources 

Scholarly journal articles report on original research by experts in a particular academic discipline. Often they go through a peer-review process, which means that they are evaluated by reputable scholars in the field before they are published. 


Criteria for evaluating scholarly journals


Who wrote it? What are their credentials?


Does the author acknowledge his or her sources? How?


Is the content substantial?

Does it appear to be valid and well-researched?

Does it make sense, based on your own background knowledge, or what other articles have to say on the topic? 


Is the language scholarly?

Is the article well written?

Do illustrations and data support the content in a scholarly fashion, or do they appear to be attention-getting, or sensational?


Who is the article written for?

Is it written for experts and researchers in the field, or for members of the general public?


Is it published in a scholarly journal?


RADAR (Rationale, Authority, Date, Accuracy, and Relevance)

Another helpful way to evaluate the credibility of a information source is through the framework RADAR (Rationale, Authority, Date, Accuracy, and Relevance). See the guide for using RADAR for more detailed guidelines about how to evaluate the quality and usefulness of an information source for your research

Adapted from: Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal of Information Science, 39(4), 470–478,

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