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Gerstein Science Information Centre

JHE353H1 : History of Evolutionary Biology (Winter 2015)

This guide is intended to assist students in the course as it is taught by Professor Rebecca Moore

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. 

Examples of secondary sources include:

How to find secondary sources

  1. Write down your argument or question. For example: Darwin wasn't the first naturalist to write about ethics. Why is this significant? 
  2. Pick a resource. Catalogue for books; Database or journal (for articles) - read the descriptions to the right to find the best one for your question
  3. Break up your search question into concepts. Darwin wasn't the first naturalist to write about ethics= Darwin AND ethics
  4. Think of synonyms for each of your concepts. Use OR to combine synonyms and AND to combine concepts. Use parentheses or the database search boxes to separate your concepts. Darwin AND ethics = (Darwin OR pre-Darwin OR "Herbert Spencer") AND (ethics OR moral sense OR morality OR morals)
  5. Search! 
  6. Look at the results of your search. Use limits (date of publication; history journals; language) to refine your results or add/remove keywords to find more/less information. 
  7. Read a couple relevant results. Look at the reference lists to find more primary and secondary sources to keep informing your research. 
  8. Ask your librarian for help! 


  • you may or may not find sources of information on the exact combination of ideas, perspectives, and/or topics you are researching in order to make your argument/assertion

  • you may have to research the ideas within your argument separately: background sources are a good place to start 

  • you may have to adjust or realign your argument as your research progresses

Use these databases to find journal articles written by historians

Find books in the library catalogue


Other libraries and Interlibrary Loan

Can't find what you are looking for in our catalogue? Don't despair! 

Browse or Search these History of Biology Journals

Catalogue tips

1. Use the side menus in the library catalogue to focus your results: for example, you can choose the language, the library, the kind of material (eg., video), author (to find books on the topic by a particular author)

2. You may need to try your search a few times with different keywords to find everything.

3. If you have more than one keyword, try doing your search in two steps. For example:
Step one, enter:
residential schools
Step two, enter:
canada, click on 'within results,' and then click on search.