Are you conducting research for a paper/project?
Conducting research for a paper or project can be a rewarding academic experiment. It’s a bit like detective work – your teacher or professor tells you to write about a subject, and off you go…. You have to wade through tons of information, and then – out of thousands of words – decide what to include in your paper or project. It can be frustrating, and sometimes boring, but you’re guaranteed to learn (and that is, after all, the ultimate goal of education.)
The first step is the most obvious – choosing a . Choose something which interests you! Research can be fun if you’re actually interested in the . But if you’re not, it can be boring and frustrating.
Now quite often you can’t choose your . But even if you don’t have a choice, the right attitude is important. Don’t look at the research as a chore – look at it as an opportunity to learn new things which may be useful to you one day. Who knows? The love of your life might turn out to be a Tudor fanatic.
Once you’re has been chosen, you’re ready for step two – background reading!
Read a general introduction to your , either in your textbook or an encyclopedia. This will only take a little while, and it’s invaluable.
After all, if you’re doing a paper on Henry VIII, it helps to have read a brief biography of his life. Then, while you’re doing more specialized research, you can place the research in its proper context.
If you want to do further reading on Tudor history, please visit the Tudor Bibliography. It’s a list of the works I used to create this site.
Background research leads to step three – narrow your to acceptable limits.
If you only have to write a 3-5 page paper, don’t choose something like the Reformation. Instead, choose a particular aspect of the Reformation. A good idea is to do background reading, and write down some ‘key words’. Perhaps one of the ‘key words’ will become your final .
Another idea is to use the ‘key words’ to make questions or statements. If you’re writing about the Reformation in England, you could write the following – The Reformation in England was different than the Reformation in Germany. Or, Was the Reformation in England different than the Reformation in Germany?
Answering such questions, or finding support for the statements, can guide your research. Create as many questions and statements as you need.
Once you have narrowed your , move on to step four – more background research!
Once again, head for the encyclopedias. They will give you a summary of the narrowed and familiarize you with the major themes and vocabulary you will encounter later.
Also, most encyclopedias include a bibliography which lists the major scholarly works related to your . Once you have that list, head to the library and use the internet.
And keep it simple!
Whenever you’re writing a paper, always keep its length in mind. A short paper (3-5 pages) doesn’t require the same amount of research as a longer paper. Don’t make yourself work harder.
If you’re interested in a beyond what you can include in the paper, that’s great – but immerse yourself in the during personal time. Don’t let your paper become more than you can handle. And too much detail can drown your and lower your grade. It’s natural to want to impress your teacher or professor with the breadth of your knowledge, but too much detail can actually be harmful to the presentation of a clear, concise argument.
If you start feeling lost or confused, talk to your teacher. After all, they know exactly what they want in a paper.
And now some information about using my sites for research, or the internet in general….
Help for students conducting research on the ‘World Wide Web’Conducting research on the internet can be a tricky and confusing experience. Luckily for us all, the Department of English at Saint Louis University has created a website to help everyone – please take the time to explore this valuable resource. Also, I have collected information about ‘Citing Electronic Sources’. With these tools, you should be able to research and write about any – and use the internet as authoritatively as you use the library!
If you prefer to cut and paste links, the link to the Saint Louis University site is:
Copyright information for this website
I’m very happy that so many people from all over the world use this site for research. It’s the reason I created the site and continue to work on it. Many of you have written and asked how to cite my work in your papers and reports. This is the correct format based upon both the Turabian/Chicago and MLA styles:
Hanson, Marilee. “Contemporary Descriptions of Anne Boleyn.” EnglishHistory.net. 2001. https://englishhistory.net/tudor/anne-boleyn-physical-description/ (7 May 2001).
You must change the article title to reflect what you are quoting and use the date you read the source here.
Please visit the following sites to learn more – The LOC’s Citing Electronic Sources page and the Columbia University Press website.
Let me clearly state that citing electronic sources is a valid form of research and accepted at most academic institutions. And I would also like to reassure every visitor to the site that I have checked and double-checked every bit of information included on these pages.
Also, if you are citing ‘Primary Sources’, you do not need to know the original source of the ‘primary source’. Again, it is perfectly acceptable to cite an internet page as a source and every teacher should be aware of this – if they’re not, tell them.
As I’ve discovered over the years, simply because a book has its information printed on paper and bound in a nice cover doesn’t mean it’s accurate. In fact, quite a few recently-published history texts are woefully inaccurate and misleading. So it is best to check and double-check your research, whether it comes from the internet or a library.
If you have general questions about copyright law, go to this site. This is the homepage of the US Copyright Office; it contains information about international copyright law, too.
And now – Copyright information…. boring but vital! Here it is, in brief – everything at this site was written by me (Marilee.) Therefore, I hold the copyright for all my original work.And I take all the blame if it bores you to tears or confuses you endlessly.
The site was created in 1997 and is updated regularly.
If you need a last name to credit the site, please use Marilee Hanson.
I do not hold the sole copyright to anything at the Primary Sources section. Those are original historical documents in the public domain which I collected and transcribed. Yes, it was loads of work to type everything up, but they were simply transcribed (not written) by me. That is why they’re called ‘Primary Sources’.
I do hold the copyright on the electronic version of the texts, which I typed. This is where the internet becomes confusing – essentially, the words are not mine but by virtue of transcribing them into electronic format, I own this particular version. So I would ask that no one copies my hard work, at least without asking permission and/or giving me credit.
As for graphics used here, copyright law allows the use of images for educational purposes, provided no profit is made and the image is not altered. And since I did go to the considerable trouble of scanning the images, I like to be asked before someone ‘borrows’ them. This simple act of courtesy goes a long way in the happy-go-lucky world of the internet.