History Homework Help Online Free: Finding Reliable Sites
With any research, but especially history, it is critical that you find reliable sources. This can be problematic enough when filtering through books and can gain another whole dimension of difficulty when researching online. The guide below provides a few ideas of where to look and what to look for online that, with some reservation for any source, you can trust.
Where to Look
If your school has a library website, it is by far the best place to start your search. Not only will it quickly lead you to hard copy source material, but even if you want to stick to strictly online material, your school may have access to a variety of scholarly, online databases. These databases may contain anything from digitized primary sources and photos of manuscripts or period articles to research conducted and published by the leading scholars of the field. If your school library does not have access to anything like that, check the website of your local library. It may even have some material that it has posted. If all of this fails, here are some things you might try:
- Google Scholar. While it may not be the best and is certainly not comprehensive, it does have the advantage of being free and easily accessible.
- Don’t underestimate Wikipedia. Though it is generally a good idea to keep it out of your bibliography, most Wikipedia articles have a references page. Check that out and see where some of those links may lead.
- Ask for help. Often your instructor is more than willing to give you a few suggestions to get you started on the right foot.
What to Look for
When you cannot find a good reputable sight or are not sure what you have found is of a reliable quality, there are a few things to look for that will help you determine a source’s worthiness:
- References, works cited or bibliography. All research and every article depends upon information from someone else’s work, be it a primary or secondary source. Reliable documents will recognize this and cite that source somewhere within the article. You not only establish a degree of reliability, but you also gain a list of places to look for more material.
- Affiliated institution. There is a lot of online research material that is posted or sponsored by a university or other academic institution. Look around the edges of the webpage, most closely at the bottom. If the article you are reading has such an affiliation, it will go a long way in establishing the document’s credibility.
- While the exact steps that you need to take for your research depend entirely on your subject and time period, the advice above should get you going in the right direction. Remember that the best way to make sure that your own research is reliable is not to base it on extremely credible sources but include conflicting accounts and maintain a professionally skeptical eye on everything you come across.