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Steps in Researching your topics
General steps in the process of doing library research:
- Identify a topic of interest
- Do a little bit of background reading on the topic (Wikipedia or Sports in America: from Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century: an Encyclopedia are good tools for this)
- Refine your topic to a manageable argument if it's too broad a topic
- Identify keywords that you can use later on in a search. These include: individual sports, athletes, players, leagues, teams, and important events in the development and history of sports in the United States
- Try a wide range of search terms to locate information. Rarely is there ever a perfect search
- Ask for help if you get stuck at any place in the research process
- Talk with your professor, your fellow students or make an appointment with me if you have any questions
Primary vs. Secondary Sources
- Primary sources are produced by participants in a specific event or time period, or witnesses to an event or period in history. Examples include: contemporary news and magazine articles, interviews, original photographs, memoirs and autobiographies, as well as material objects
- Secondary sources are typically books and articles written about a topic, by a non-participant in an historical event or time period. Authors of these works utilize evidence to formulate a thesis and develop a conclusion based on this evidence, which often are primary sources
Searching TIP: Many primary sources can be found within the bibliographies and notes in secondary sources.
If you are unsure about a source, check with your professor or a research librarian to determine whether it can be considered primary or secondary.