Starting your research can be a difficult process to undertake in history because there is an abundance of information that exists in regards to many topics. The best route to take when beginning your research is to learn as much as you can about your topic before you start to research it. Background information can be obtained by using print encyclopedias or online encyclopedias like Credo Reference. These resources have been created to assist you in locating informative and accurate information on your historical topic and are highly recommended.
Now that you have performed some background information on your topic, you are ready to begin your research. The library subscribes to many databases that focus on historical time periods and specific populations. Suppose you are interested in Texas history, you may wish to consult databases such as the Texas Digital Sanborn Maps or Texas Reference Center. Perhaps you want to know more about Native American culture, then you should look explore the Bibliography of Native North Americans. Just remember that some databases will be used for a specific focus while other such as JSTOR or Academic Search Complete look for resources across multiple disciplines.
At this point you should have selected a database or databases that you wish to look for resources in. Now you have to formulate a search strategy to create keywords that you can use to search for articles that are found in journals. Journal articles are helpful in understanding complex topics that center around important issues and are predominantly written by scholars who are experts in their subject field.
Sometimes it is helpful to search for outside resources or content that aids your research. You should seek out external web resources to supplement your research but you should not rely on them for your main source of information. Also it is important to be aware that some websites may publish content that aligns with their stated goals and may have biased information so when searching for external web site content, look for content that comes from government agencies, educational institutions, and public policy organizations.