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HU 3900: Inquiry Seminar - Medieval Europe and Its Echoes: Historical Scholarship

Professor Tina-Marie Ranalli

About Scholarship in History

Some highlights of a recent study of scholarship and scholarly communication in the discipline of history.  From ITHAKA Report Executive Summary (fulltext linked below):

  • "books are still the preeminent form of scholarly communications in history, and that
    publishing one to two books is critical for attaining tenure in institutions with a research focus.  However,
    there may be some cracks in this edifice in the sense that journal articles and a derivative of monographs
    – book reviews – are the main secondary sources used for research."
  • "the transition from print to electronic is happening slowly in history relative to
    other fields. Many leading journals, especially outside the U.S., do not provide current issues and / or
    back issues online. There are few online-only or open access journals, and little sharing of preprint
  • "the importance in history of comprehensiveness....historians emphasize the need to fully understand the context
    of an argument, where it sits in an ongoing scholarly dialogue, and the primary materials upon which it
    draws....they aspire to discover untapped sets of data or primary materials upon which to base their

About Scholarly Journals

 Journal articles are written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be published. Journal articles may cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.

Use a journal:

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research

Characteristics of Scholarly Journals

Authors are: scholars in the field, academics or researchers.
Sources are: always cited with many references and/or footnotes.
Articles are: long with sections such as abstract, literature review, methodology, results and conclusion.
They are: similar to books, usually don't have color and never ads, even in online versions.

Filter & Follow Up

  • Scan results: Use subject headings, keywords, and phrases from your search results to refine your keyword searches.
  • Scrutinize article titles, number of pages, and journal title.
  • Browse promising abstract and conclusion sections of long studies.
  • Bibliographies can clue you in on the value of the article as well.
  • Find an interesting author? Search for more articles by that author.
  • Notice an agency, association or expert mentioned in an article? Follow up.