Resources for History
- Research Help
- Finding Primary Sources
- Finding Secondary Sources
- Reference Sources & Databases
- Collections & Archives
- Selected Readings
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- Questions? Ask Us!
Call: (337) 482-6030
Text: (337) 205-7558
Visit: 1st Floor - Dupré Library
Form: Submit Your Question
Hours: Reference Desk/Chat
Note: Reference Chat and Email services are primarily for the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The department will assist the public if the question concerns the University or some unique resource of Dupré Library, such as Federal government publications.
The first step to any research project is selecting your topic. This can be challenging, especially if your assignment is very broadly defined.
One way to narrow down your research options is to use reference works (subject encyclopedias, bibliographic essays, even Wikipedia), to get your bearings. These overviews of a subject area can give you the big picture, and perhaps generate questions you want to explore in more detail. Some call this "presearch" since it happens before actual research begins. We all know to use Wikipedia cautiously; just remember to read critically and consider the sources of information you find there.
Subject encyclopedias are the great reference sources since they are written by recognized experts in the field, contain citations or suggestions for further reading, and sometimes introduce you to the significant debates and controversies on your topic.
- Adam Beauchamp, Tulane University, History Research Guide: Background Info
Evaluating Online Resources
When evaluating online resources, there are five things to look for:
Why should you trust the person that gave you this information? Is it from a credible source?
Is the site up to date? Is the information in your article current with events and technology?
Design & Style
Is the site professionally designed, or does it look like a personal blog? (Note: sometimes the look of sites can be deceiving)
Is the information presented in a balanced, objective manner? Is the author trying to sway you in some way?
Can you find the information you need in the site easily? Does the site direct you to places to find more information?