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History: How to

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

How to find books and journals for History

How to improve your searching


  • Find the keywords for your topic or essay. Don’t type in a long sentence.
  • Are there synonyms or related terms (broader or more specific) that might be relevant

Getting more results

  • You can use a truncation symbol (usually an asterisk *) to find different endings to your keyword. For example, searching for read* would find read, reading, reads, etc.
  • You can find alternative terms simultaneously by linking them with or; for example, you could search for adolescent or teenager.

Getting fewer results

  • If you get too many results try searching just the title rather than the full record. You should get fewer, more relevant results.
  • Use quotation marks if you want your search terms to appear as a phrase.
  • Use 'and' to combine search terms
  • Use the refinement options and the searchwithin box to make your search more specific

Critically appraising your sources is a crucial element of any literature search.  You need to consider is your sources are:

  • reliable
  • academic enough
  • Free from bias

Ask yourself the following questions about the information you have found.


  • Who is the author or organisation responsible for the information?
  • Are they qualified to write on this topic?


  • Is the information out of date?
  • Does it matter?

What sort of information?

  • Is it opinion or fact?
  • Is it reliable and independent?
  • Is it academic/research-focussed or commercial?


Most of our e-books can be found via iFind.  Our e-books are available via: Proquest and EBSCO. These tabs will tell you a little bit more about the three main databases. To login, use your 6 digit student number as the username and your usual password. If you need any help accessing and using ebooks, email us at

Assignment Survival Kit

The ASK website will help you get organised for your assignment. Type in your assignment due date, and you will be given a timeline to help you.

Using Endnote

EndNote is software which helps you to store your references and format them in Word. The online version is available from anywhere as long as you are a Swansea University student. You can also work through our EndNote online workbook (see attached file) to help you to get started. If you are a research postgrad it would be worth considering the software version of EndNote. You have to buy this for off campus use but it offers more options. There is information in the EndNote section below. You should also check out the Endnote Library Guide for further help and support.

How to evaluate websites

Finding information on the internet is easy, but finding good quality and reliable information is trickier than you think.  Take a look at our tips in this section on how to get the most out of searching online. Before you use any web resource in your assignment ask yourself “Is the web page as good as information you would find in a book or academic journal?”

Webpages can be set up by anyone, therefore before referencing a site check that the information is reliable and accurate.

  • Who wrote the information? Do they have relevant qualifications? Have they written other material on the subject? Do they have a bias?
  • When was the information published? Is it current enough for your needs?
  • Why was the page put on the web? Is it selling or promoting something? Is it biased?

Look for the clues in the URL

  • .com – a commercial company
  • – a commercial UK company​​
  • .edu – a US academic institution
  • – a UK academic institution
  • .org – a non-profit organisation
  • .gov or – a US or UK government site

Are you struggling to find what you need on Google?

Here are some tips to improve your results!

Still not finding enough academic resources in Google?

Try using Google Scholar which only searches scholarly literature.  You can link  Google Scholar to Swansea University's subscriptions by following these instructions:

  • Click on Settings
  • Click on Library Links in the list on the left hand side
  • Search for Swansea University or, if it is listed, click in the check box next to Swansea University - iGetIt.

Here are some useful links you may like to explore further: