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History 290: Historiography & Research Methods


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Doris Wagner
1-01 Rutherford Library South
University of Alberta


  1. The writing of history; written history.
  2. The study of history-writing, esp. as an academic discipline (OED)

Historiography is concerned with historical interpretations and representations of the past—put another way, the writing of history as opposed to history itself. Although historiography is primarily a disciplinary phrase introduced by contemporary academics, the inquiry it represents can be traced back to the very earliest origins of historical writing in the work of ancient Greek writers who reflected on each others’ historical conclusions. (from SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods, 2008).

Finding historiographies on your topic of interest

1) Historiography is often embedded within academic texts writings - sometimes separated out (e.g. literature review) or woven throughout. Search scholarly databases for your topic of interest and look for historiographical elements as your read.

2) Add AND historiograph* to your topic search terms; e.g. canad* AND historiograph* (the * wildcard covers variations like historiography OR historiographies OR historiographical OR historiographer, etc).

Some possible subject headings: HistoriographyHistoriography -- History, Historiography -- Philosophy

Some starter texts on historiography as a topic itself:

Evaluating What You Read

Once you've found some sources, you need to evaluate them to determine whether the information is reliable and relevant to your thesis.

Tutorials (University of Alberta Library)

Critically Analyzing Information Sources (Cornell Univ. Library)

How to Evaluate Journal Articles (Colorado State Univ.)

How to Evaluate a Web Page (Colorado State Univ.)