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History - General

This guide is intended to help you get started with finding relevant information related to your history class or topics of interest.

You've been assigned a research paper...

Research assignment instructions vary from professor to professor, and project to project. Your professor may provide instructions for each project on how to conduct research, what methods to use, and how to put the final paper together.

I. Tips for choosing and developing a topic:

  • If the topic has not been supplied by your instructor, select a topic that interests you. It will be more fun to research.
  • Avoid a broad topic, but narrow it down to make it more manageable.
  • Do some initial research to see how much information has been written on your topic; and if the book or article is available and accessible. Your topic may not be popular and may be obscure. If you are not finding enough information you may need to broaden your topic. If you are overwhelmed by too much information, try narrowing your topic. Also, look up sources found at the end of an article, or from a literature review.
  • Use dictionaries and encyclopedias for definitions and summaries to help you build a knowledge bank on your topic. 

II. Getting started tips:

  • Plan to be organized. Use a notebook, index cards, and folders for your printed articles or book chapters.
  • Take notes and record every source. A good tool to use is a reference management tool such as Refworks, or Endnote. These will help you keep track of your sources. You do not want to plagiarize!
  • Start early. Don't wait until a week before the paper's due date. 
  • Create an outline. 
  • Research in segments based on your outline

Getting Started

Recommended Databases to start with: