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HIS 400 (Gimber)

Early American Republic

1)  Don't skip the fact gathering stage.  Gather the essential dates, events, people, places, and special terminology related to your topic.  These details are extremely useful when searching in databases, especially when looking for primary sources.  Wikipedia and other websites are fine for this.

2) Check the footnotes/bibliography of every book, article, or website you find that is even vaguely on your topic.  This is a big part of how professors do research and can save you a ton of time.  See Finding Articles from a Bibliography  and Finding Books from a Bibliography below for a reminder of how to find the full text.

3) Look for books outside of our Library.  Most HIS 300 classes introduce Worldcat.org.  I like Google Books, because it often gives a preview and links to WorldCat.  Amazon or the catalog of an extremely large research library can also work.  Use EZ-Borrow to request books we don't own.

4) Interlibrary Loan is essential.  If you do your HIS 400 project without getting anything from outside this library, you probably haven't done very good research. 

5) Keep organized.  You are going to have a lot of sources.  Set up a system for keeping track of them that works for you.  Some of our databases have folder systems for saving sources.  We also have a university subscription to Endnote or you could use a free option like Zotero or Mendeley.

5) Ask for help!  If you feel stuck, set up an appointment with me.

Sample Research Process

You can't do all the research for a project of this size in one go.  Here is a example of how research may fit into a semester-length project.

1) Develop a tentative topic

2) First round of research.  Look for sources that will give you background on your topic and help you narrow it down.  Books and websites are great for this.

3) Read a bunch of stuff.  Work on refining your topic into a more focused thesis or research question.  Don't forget to check the bibliographies of your initial findings for more sources.

4) Second round of research.  Now look for more specific sources to match your refined topic.  This is the point to do in-depth searches for journal articles and primary sources.

5) Outline or begin drafting the paper.  As you go, you may discover you have places where you need more sources to support specific points.

6) Third round of research to fill any gaps.

Finding Articles from a Bibliography

a) type or copy/paste the title of the article into the search box.  If it has a very long title, you don't need the whole thing, just enough to make it distinctive.  If we have access to it, it should pop up in the first 5 or so results.

b) now use the full text link to get to the full article.

c) If it doesn't show up, we probably don't have access.  Next, try clicking on the "Expand the Results Beyond My Library" link at the top of the left-hand column. 

d) If it shows up now, you can use the "no full text" link to use ILLiad to get it.  Remember that you may have to sign into the system before you will see the interlibrary loan options. 

e) If it still doesn't show up, you can still try to request it via ILLiad, you will just need to enter everything manually.

 

Finding Books from a Bibliography

This is very similar to finding articles, just a couple of tweaks needed to make it work better!

a) Type or copy/paste the name of the book into the Library Search Box.  If it is a shorter title, put it in quotation marks.

b) For books, the results can be confusing, because often a bunch of book reviews will show up!  So, go to the left-hand column under Source Type and select "books". 

c) If it shows up, check to see if it is online or in print.

d) If it doesn't show up, then follow steps c, d, and e as you would for articles (above).  The only difference is that you will use EZ-Borrow to request the books instead of ILLiad.

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