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Undergraduate Research in History


Research Process

This is a guide for Boston College's undergraduate student population in how to approach historical research.

Getting Started

To do put together an excellent research paper in History, you'll need a number of components. Below are some recommended steps for setting out:

  1. First, make note of specific assignment requirements. 
  2. Next, write out the what, when, where, and who you are looking for. This gives you a starting point for finding primary and secondary sources
  3. Next, try running a couple search in some reference works (i.e., encyclopedia, handbooks, guides, and dictionaries) to get a general sense of your project. Note: Wikipedia can be a great place to start and a terrible place to end. 
  4. Once you know more about your topic (e.g., exact dates), try finding a couple academic books on your subject before turning to scholarly journal articles. These should give you context for your research. 
  5. Now, head back to the main History Research Guide to pick appropriate access points to primary sources for your specific project. 
  6. Don't forget throughout to keep track of your scholarly and primary sources. Boston College Libraries recommends doing so using the Zotero citation manager, which can help you assemble your citations as footnotes and in a bibliography.