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Research Guides

AIS 212 / HSTCMP 212: Indigenous Leaders & Activists: Scholarly Books & Articles

Why Use Secondary Sources

 sample article book jacket

The raison d'être of scholars is to attempt to describe, explain, interpret and analyze issues & events. Scholars use evidence to support their interpretations which are most often published in the form of books and journal articles (secondary sources). So why should you use secondary sources?


  • Written by expert scholars. Before publication academic books and articles are vetted by other scholars in a process known as peer review.
  • Peer review ensures that scholarly books and articles are more reliable and credible than other types of publications.
  • Provide historical/broader/in depth context and analysis of a topic. For example, if you are researching Shigeru Kayano, you may want to use a scholarly source to get information on the Ainu peoples of Japan. 
  • Scholarly articles and books are based on evidence (primary sources) that are cited in the footnotes and bibliography. They are often a quick way to identify potential primary sources that you too may wish to use as evidence in your research paper. 


Keep in mind


  • Expert scholars are likely to use specialized terminology and theory in their analyses making scholarly articles and books sometimes difficult to understand.
  • There may not be a book-length biography of your subject. 

UW Libraries Search


Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

Using UW Libraries Search to Find Books

  • For Biographies - Type in your subject's name in quotations. You may want to try both surname first name & the reverse. For example: "frank billy" - "billy frank"
  • By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic. For example: ainu identity japan
  • By Title - search for a specific book by title. Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations.  For example: "where the salmon run"
  • By Author - search for books written by a specific author. Type in the last name followed by the first name of the author in quotations. For example: "reid joshua"


On the results screen use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any book reviews and articles that were found.  Note down the library name and call number -- you need this information to locate the book.