Before going to specific history research institutions or conducting interviews, you must have a solid idea for the direction of your topic. That direction may change as you get further into your research. This checklist will help you build a foundation for your research.
When all of the items below are checked AND you have used at least five secondary resources, then you can schedule an appointment for a visit or an interview.
At any point during the checklist, you can ask your teacher, advisor, or the NHD coordinators for assistance.
1.___ Get a notebook in which you will keep all your information.
2___ Choose a specific topic. Be sure your topic relates to the annual theme and that sufficient information is available on the topic.
3___ Write a thesis statement. If you do this correctly, it will take some time. Your thesis statement should summarize your entire entry. Put it at the top of every page and remember it! Here are some questions to guide you.
a) What will be your core idea for your research?
b) If the topic is controversial, can you research both sides and defend your position?
4___ Write about 56 questions you will answer through research. These should be openended (NOT yes/no) questions, which can be answered as you put together good information.
5___ Do preliminary research about the topic. Limit the amount from the internet! The Internet is actually better for primary sources after you do your basic research.
6___ Take notes and make photocopies of information that you use. Remember that you will write a bibliography. Keep a complete list of the information from all sources that you use. It will be much easier if you have the information in case you need to double check the information.
7___ Visit your local public library. If they don’t have the books you need, they can be ordered through interlibrary loan.
Tips on Researching
1. Chose a topic you would like to research.
2. Write a thesis statement early, then look at it regularly to make sure you’re focused. You should clearly understand what you are researching and how it relates to the theme.
3. Make sure your topic isn’t too big. If it is, you will likely skim over the information and not present anything insightful or significant. Other than failure to adhere to theme, the most common mistake made in NHD is selection of a topic which is too broad.
4. Do in-depth research. 60% of your score is based upon HISTORICAL ACCURACY and INTERPRETATION.
5. Begin by looking at good quality secondary sources. Learn background information and basic analysis. Good secondary books include bibliographies, which will help you find primary sources. These secondary sources can also help you develop your thesis statement.
6. Your entry should be the final thing you do. First, you must write your thesis statement, complete your research and begin your bibliography before you begin to write your paper, design your exhibits, write your scripts, film your documentary, or create the layout for your web pages.