What is history? Welcome! History is a fascinating craft, but one that sometimes has a reputation for being boring. This could not be further from the truth. As an instructor, my goal is to demonstrate that history—far from being the rote memorization of dates and “facts”—is a creative and imaginative interpretation of the past that is achieved through both meticulous research and persuasive storytelling. History allows us to learn about ourselves as we stare into the mirror of the past; it helps us to understand what it means to be human. I hope you are ready for a fascinating journey of intellectual development and self-discovery. Studying the past at the university level is truly a privilege that few people in the world enjoy, and one that we should never take for granted.
What is in this Research Guide? While history is indeed both interesting and fun, it is also difficult. There is a lot to learn about content (the past), sources (how to find and evaluate information about the past), and conventions (how we write about the past). This Research Guide is designed to help you navigate the craft of history; it is a complement to the course outline and provides you with the tips and tools you need to succeed. You are responsible for understanding the material in this Research Guide, which provides you with the tools you need to obtain basic information literacy skills.
What is information literacy? According to the Association of College & Research Libraries, “Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” These “integrated abilities” are central to historical research and include knowledge about the following themes:
- Academic integrity
- Historical and scholarly sources
- Concept mapping and searching
- Library search engines
- Databases and scholarly journal articles
- Information evaluation
- Citation styles and management
How is this Research Guide organized? This Research Guide consists of a series of separate modules that are organized into five general sections:
This Research Guide is by no means exhaustive. As in any craft, it is necessary to start out as an apprentice learning some of the basics before you can move on to become a master. I wish you all the best in your training, both in this course and in your university studies.