Online Sources

In the past dozen years, a wide variety of electronic media sources have come into use by people in many professions, including historians. They can be valuable sources of information such as government documents, statistics, and bibliographic references, etc. While these sources can be very useful and access to them has increased tremendously, it must be noted that the credibility of these sources can vary widely. When consulting sources online, consider the nature of the publications you encounter. Are they webbased academic journals or government databases, or are they popular web sites hosted by private individuals? If they are popular sites, what are the credentials of the person or group hosting the site? What was the publication date of the site, and when was it last updated? Many web sites about historical events or subjects are available, but be careful when examining their contents. If they make bold or innovative claims without providing reference to their own source material or evidence, it is possible that their arguments are unsubstantiated. Do not subscribe to radically revisionist interpretations of historical events or to conspiracy theories that cannot be supported by the weight of accessible, credible evidence. Well researched and well written histories will always provide the reader with explicit references to the sources used in the authors’ investigations.

The university library web site provides access to a wide variety of online academic journals, known as electronic-journals or Ejournals, and many historical journals are among them. Authors of articles featured in such sources are typically professional historians, and their work is usually peer-reviewed, which means that it has been examined for credibility and accuracy by an editorial committee and a series of experts in that particular field. An index of E-journals on the UBC Library web site.

Another valuable online resource is the article database kept by major periodicals such as The New York Times newspaper, The Economist magazine, etc. Occasionally these periodicals require a small fee to access or to reproduce a particular article from a back issue, but if the article is unavailable in a standard microfilm collection such as that here in the university library, it may be a useful option. Use caution when subscribing to such web sites. Reputable, trustworthy sites will always keep your personal details and credit card information private.