How to prepare for your research paper
British Studies courses, and many other courses, may require you to submit a research paper. Here are some tips to help you prepare for that paper.
1. Look at your title. In what ways did [ x ] both reflect and influence his or her time? How does the life and work of [x (dates)] inform our understanding of national identity in the British Isles during this period?
Now you need to breakdown the title. You are not being requested just to provide a biography or fact file about your person, although this information can be included. You will need to also research the social history and events of the time both in Britain and if appropriate, globally.
2. Read the relevant chapter in the Penguin Illustrated History of Britain and Ireland to gain an overview of the historical context of your person. Reference copies of this textbook are available on the Library Reserve Shelf.
3. Go to the College Library
You can access the online Library Catalogue on the computer in the Library or by visiting http://lib.harlaxton.ac.uk. First, search for the name of your person and make a note of where the books are shelved. Then search for items on the relevant time in history. For example, for William the Conqueror (c.1028-1087) you would need to look for items about the Normans in general, the Norman Conquest, Battle of Hastings, Domesday Book. If you need help, please ask your Professor or one of the Library staff.
4. Register with Lincolnshire Libraries instructions here to give you access to ODNB and Times Digital Archives (see below).
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography http://www.oxforddnb.com is available via membership of Lincolnshire Libraries. Use the Lincolnshire Libraries Online Resources page as your point of access. Help for searching is available here ODNB help.
- The Times Digital Archive 1785-2012. If your term paper person was influential between these dates, try searching The Times Digital Archive available through Lincolnshire Libraries. This will give you primary source examples of newspaper coverage of events relevant to your research. Use the Lincolnshire Libraries Online Resources page as your point of access. Search tips.
7. Scholarly sources
You need to include a minimum of five scholarly sources. Visit the the Journal Databases available through University of Evansville Libraries to gain access to journals and periodicals. A-Z Journal list.
Tip: JSTOR http://www.jstor.org/ is a good place to start. If you’re not sure how to search or getting too many results, have a look at the Getting started guide and How to use JSTOR guide. You can also carry out a basic JSTOR search right from the Harlaxton College Library catalogue home page.
8. Searching the internet
Finally, once you have completed the first 9 steps you can search the internet for information but make sure your search is targeted to obtain meaningful and academically worthy results. Have a look at the Beyond Google section: Advanced Internet Searching, Subject Gateways, Website Evaluation. Every website you use must be properly cited with a reference in your reference list or bibliography. It is important to note the author and date of the website and the date on which you accessed it, as websites do come and go.
Please note, Wikipedia can be used to gain an overview of your person or a time in history, however it is not considered to be a scholarly source.
Make sure you keep a note of the source of all materials that you use throughout your research as you go along. This will needed for citations and to create your reference list and bibliography at the end of your paper. Further details are available on the Referencing page. Please note, plagiarism is a serious violation of the College Honor Code.
Please see your Professor or a member of the Library staff if you require any help with your research.
Updated by AH, 16/11/2021