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History: Secondary Sources

What is the difference between a popular and a scholarly source?

If you are not familiar with scholarly publications, it can be difficult to tell the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals. There are no definitive rules for distinguishing between the two, but here are some guidelines:


Scholarly (e.g., academic journals):

  • Are written by professionals within an academic field or discipline.
  • Contain research projects, methodology, and theory.
  • Have few, if any, advertisements.
  • Use college-level or specialized vocabulary of the discipline.
  • Include articles with extensive bibliographies, footnotes, or other documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often black & white and consist of tables, charts, and diagrams.
  • Articles are usually peer-reviewed or refereed. 

Popular (e.g., magazines, newspapers):

  • Are written by journalists.
  • Contain general news articles written to inform, update, or introduce a new issue.
  • Have many full-color, full-page advertisements.
  • Use a general, non-technical vocabulary.
  • Include articles with little or no documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often full-color pictures and illustrations.


Interlibrary Loan

What if the library does not have a journal article that you need? We can still get it for you via our interlibrary loan service. It's free! And articles often come electronically within a few days. For more information see the interlibrary loan page.

Why Use A Database?

Search a database to find journal, magazine, or newspaper articles. Some databases also provide access to other materials such as dissertations, book chapters, books, datasets, sound recordings, videos, etc.

This page lists databases that cover:

Some databases have the full text of articles. If not, follow these instructions to figure out if the library has the journal, or call the Learning Lab at 405-325-4142 for assistance.

Area Studies

These databases are useful for finding articles and other materials about individual regions of the world. Also see this guide to International and Area Studies Resources.

Ancient and Medieval History

These are the major databases for finding articles and other resources about ancient and medieval history. For instructions on searching the catalog for texts of ancient sources, click here.

Video and Images

These databases cover still images and video.

Secondary Literature Of History

These are the major databases that cover history or history of science.

Multidisciplinary Topics

These databases cover history and other disciplines.

Disciplines Other Than History

These databases provide access to material in various subject areas that have proven useful to history students in the past.

Current News

These databases provide access to current newspaper articles. Dates vary, but generally, 1980s-present.