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HIS496 - History Seminar

Research Strategies

Recommended Strategy to Begin Your Research

  1. Begin your research by reading some background information about your topic:
    • Check out the facets of your topic using an encyclopedia from the library's Reference section, or an online encyclopedia in Gale Virtual Reference Library or CredoReference, which offers tools such as Mind Maps and Topic Pages.
    • Make a list of key people, dates, and terms relating to your topic, or make a mind map of the various facets related to your topic. 
  2. Once you have studied the background of your topic, locate primary and secondary sources with which to write your paper.
    • Tip: Starting your research with secondary sources can lead you to the primary sources which were used by the authors of these secondary sources. Then try to track the primary sources down.
  3. Determine other types of primary sources to use:
    • Find digitized primary source collections on the web (see list on Primary Sources tab)
    • Find published primary sources using the online catalog.

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Follow Rampolla's* advice:

  • Remember to ask those detective questions: Who? What? Where? When? and Why?
  • Try to discover the context in which an event occurred.
  • Examine the causes of an event.
  • Ask questions about the relationship between the continuity of ideas, institutions, and conditions and changes that have occurred.

* Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 2012) 3-4.

Research Assistance

Get one-on-one help from a librarian by scheduling an appointment. Go to the Research Assistance Request Form, fill it out, then bring the resources you've already gathered along with all your questions about your research. The librarian will do some pre-searching from your request form and help answer your questions.