Keep in mind that at some point (sooner rather than later!) you just have to sit down and read the secondary sources you've found.
Good secondary sources will lead you to other sources, both primary and secondary!
A secondary source is a source (usually a book, an article, or a paper) written by a scholar, based on the interpretation of primary sources and other relevant secondary sources.
What does a secondary source do?
When you write a research paper, you are creating a secondary source!
Always look at the footnotes or endnotes of a useful source, to find other useful sources!
See the Using Footnotes/Endnotes tab above for more information.
Historiography is "the history of History as a discipline, or the specific discourse on a particular subject as it has unfolded over time." (Jim Cullen, Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write, and Think about History [New York: Wiley & Blackwell, 2009], p. 178; for a more detailed discussion, see chapter 2 of Cullen)
Most introductions (books, articles, research papers) will include a historiography section, demonstrating the author's knowledge of the answers to these questions:
When you read a book or article related to your topic, pay attention to the historiography section. Often it will include references/footnotes citing relevant secondary sources—which will help you learn the historiography for your topic.
Why do I need to do this?
Scholarship is a conversation between scholars writing on the same topics. Sometimes you agree with other scholars, sometimes you disagree, sometimes something written by another scholar will send you off in a new and unexpected direction. Understanding these conversations also provides you with much-needed background information for your paper.
Intellectual honesty requires that you acknowledge this information, and these influences by