When studying Senior History, students are required to do their own research and come to an informed, reasoned and well supported conclusion through analysis and evaluation. This can only happen if students consult high quality, authoritative sources to base their judgement on.
I find that quite a few students don’t have well-developed online research skills. This page aims to give some ideas on how to be more efficient at finding good sources.
N.B. There is no substitute for a BOOK written by an historian, however, did you know many of these books are now online?
- First off some search basics, like using “quotation marks to find a complete sentence” and things like filetype:doc or filetype:pdf. For more, read here.
- Best trick: Take a sentence from a book you are looking for and Google that sentence using quotation marks. You can even add filetype:doc or filetype:pdf. You’ll be amazed to find that many books are online.
- Google Scholar.
Stand on the Shoulders of Giants. Great way to get more authoritative results. Again, use your effective search queries to get the best results.
- State and University libraries
Some schools give online access to University libraries. If not, then you can sign up for free with any State Library. The State Library of Victoria will send you your library card for free and you will get access to all online peer reviewed databases. Excellent resource. More detailed information here.
- Diigo and other online bookmarking sites.
Using social bookmarking sites is a great way to get to high quality curated content. Diigo also has groups which follow specific topics.
Here is a collection of online books that I have found.
- Scribd. Give it a go. Yes, they do charge money, but you can get a 7 day free trial, a day pass for $9.00 or you can go all the way and pay monthly. A lot of books and articles are available through Scribd so I believe it is good value to sign up if one of your key books is online.
- Google Books, use Search Options.
It is so much more efficient to use the “Search Options”. Choose “Google eBooks” to get all the books that can be read online. Save books to your library so you don’t “lose” them. Take screenshots of significant pages or quotes.
Charity shops and Secondhand books:
I have found the best History books in charity shops, so don’t walk past one without having a quick look.
In Australia, the Brotherhood of St Lawrence Charity has opened up an online bookshop. There is an impressive range of History books here: http://www.brotherhoodbooks.org.au/categories/history-and-archaeology/ and best of all, free shipping!
World of books (Australia) also offers free shipping: http://www.worldofbooks.com.au/humanities-books/history-books.html?limit=60
If you have a larger device like an iPad or Tablet, or a Kindle or Kobo, getting your books as an digital text is a good option too. The school library has an EBL (Electronic Book Library). Many university and state libraries offers similar services.