Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Research Methods in History
Dr. Aldo Lauria-Santiago
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This course is an introduction to research methods for students in the humanities. Thesis writers, students interested in independent research projects or graduate school will benefit from the exercises and lessons covered in this course. Students will choose their own questions or problems and apply to them the objectives and exercises outlined here. The course will require meticulous and time-consuming attention to detail, but will allow students a break from the more traditional thematic structure of courses and paper-writing at Holy Cross. At least two of our class meetings will be on-site visits to libraries and archives, and it might be necessary during the term to add one or two additional sessions to discuss the reports. I will provide introductions to the week's materials and guide you through the search process. This course will not only make you a more efficient researcher, cutting your search time in half, but also bring to your attention the many and complex sources of materials that undergraduates often are not aware of and fail to use in their research projects.  A good portion of the course will be dedicating to learning how to take advantage of electronic resources.

Class times will often be divided into two halves: a presentation of the week's materials and challenges and then a work session in students might separate to carry out individual work or present and discuss their own work.

Half your grade will be determined by your participation and attendance. Attendance is crucial in a once-a-week format research seminar format.

The other half of your grade will be based on the weekly (approximately 12) projects and exercises. These will vary in weight according to the difficulty and time involved. The final requirement for this course is a draft of your research paper that reflects the course's lessons, and final drafts of some of the reports assigned and revised during the term.

It is important for students to remain in contact with me about their projects and consult with me individually throughout the term.

Every week you must check the web site for updates and information on assignments.

Students will submit their work via email attachment and/or hardcopy but also post all work to the course's network drive (K: drive)

Students must:

The following books have been ordered by the bookstore. Other readings are on reserve. It is your responsibility to allow sufficient time to access these materials according to the conditions established by the library's reserve room.


Week 1: [Sept 4]  Historiography, Controversy and Sources


Week 2: [Sept 11]  Organizing the research enterprise, formulating a proposal and a research plan


Week 3: [Sept 18] PC Software and Web Research--PC Lab

Week 4: [Sept 25] Bibliographic Research--PC Lab

Week 5: [Oct 2] Reference Materials for Research in History--Dinand Library


Week 6: [Oct 16] Journals and Journal Indices--Dinand Library


Week 7: [Oct 23] Newspapers and Specialized Research Tools

Relevant sections of MANN; review of other readings
Students will examine the various reference sources for the use of US and foreign newspapers including print and digital indeces. They will identify one newspaper useful to their project, one local newspaper and foreign newspaper. They will examine whatever papers are available at Holy Cross or have been made available through inter-library loan.

Week 8: [Oct 30] Primary Documents Search--PC Lab

Students will research primary sources through three means: examining research guides and other reference materials for accessing documents, identifying specific document collections for their projects, and carrying out some exercise questions.

Week 9: [Nov 6] Field Trip to Widener Library, Harvard University

Week 10: [Nov 13] Visit to Holy Coss Archive

Complete research into primary sources for your project.

Week 11: [Nov 20] Writing, formatting and organizing the research paper--PC Lab

Bring detailed outline of research project and list of problems pending, and initial draft of paper. Bring in old research papers from previous courses.
Week 13: [Nov 27] The use of primary and secondary Sources in the Research Paper--PC Lab

Week 14: [Dec 4] Use of Statistics in History--My office