Faculty of Arts

Where to Start

You may be tempted to try searching an online as the first step in researching an essay topic; unfortunately this approach works much better for answering a simple query on then it does for finding resources for a research project. When you start a keyword or subject search, you will get an undifferentiated mass of sources, a very small percentage of which will be pertinent to your topic, and there is no guarantee these resources will be scholarly.

Your first searching should be done in paper sources, which is actually a lot less work in the long run. Here is a list of places to look for material, in roughly the order you should search:

Bibliographies in recent textbooks in the field

Authors of history textbooks usually are professional historians. When compiling lists of "Suggested Readings" at the ends of chapters, they include books that they believe to be most important on particular topics, so this should help your narrow you search.

Bibliographies in recent monographs

This will allow you to start finding more recently published works on your general topic.

Review articles and historiographical portions of articles in scholarly journals/periodicals

TRU library has access to an extensive list of periodicals. To find out which database has which periodical, try using the “periodical search” function on the libraries homepage. You can always print off any article which have found online.

Bibliographies published in book form

Some research topics are so large that there are separate published bibliographies on them. You may find some of these in the reference section of the TRU Library, but some may be in the stacks. To check this out, do a keyword search on your topic and include the word "bibliography".

You can always ask the library staff to assist you with any research questions you might have.