A2 History Workshop The University of Leicester School of Historical Studies Tuesday 24th June 2008
A2 History Workshop Using the Internet for Academic Research School of Historical Studies
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF WARNING! Online data for historical research is increasing daily. This makes the internet an immensely useful resource, but also one that you must learn to use critically and carefully. The amount of information can be bewildering, and its quality is variable. All internet sources should be subjected to the same critical scrutiny as other material. Internet sources are not inherently ‘suspicious’ but neither are they to be accorded more authority than other material. You should not let your topic or your conclusions be dictated by the fact that some material is easily available on-line and other sources are much harder to access.
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF WARNING! • Most online sites are NOT ‘peer reviewed’ • ie: anyone can put anything online, without it being checked and verified as academically credible by other experts in the subject • Copyright laws mean that a lot of online data is at least 70 YEARS OLD • ie: it can be much more out of date than printed sources • Online data are ephemeral and easily lost through broken links • Medieval parchment and pre-20th C paper sources are physically more robust than online sources!
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF WARNING! • Avoid WIKIPEDIA • It can be amended by anyone, including people with vested interests and false claims to expertise. It is therefore not reliable and has no academic credibility • Be wary of URLs that end .com or .co.uk, these signify commercial companies rather than objective academic organisations
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF ADVICE • Use GOOGLE searches carefully • narrow down your searches to find specific information using double quotation marks to search for word-strings • Eg: instead of searching for VIKINGS [13,600,000 hits] • search for “VIKINGS IN BRITAIN” [702 hits] • “VIKINGS IN BRITAIN” + ARCHAEOLOGY [1950 hits] • “VIKINGS IN BRITAIN” + ARCHAEOLOGY + “EAST MIDLANDS” [63 hits]
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF ADVICE • Look for sites hosted by Universities • UK university/academic URLs end: .ac.uk (ac = academic) • US university/academic URLs end: .edu (edu = education) • Australian university URLs end: .edu.au • Canadian university URLs end: .ca (after u+university name)
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF ADVICE • Look for sites hosted by museums, libraries & galleries,eg: • The Imperial War Museum: http://www.iwm.org.uk/ • IWM Online collections • The British Museum (especially, ‘Explore’) • The British Library (especially ‘Images online’) • The Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC (eg: The Space Race)
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF ADVICE • Look for sites hosted by governments or government agencies,eg: • The British Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk • The National Archives [UK documents post-1086, eg: historical census data]: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ • The Library of Congress (Washington DC) http://www.loc.gov/index.html
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchWORDS OF ADVICE • Use ACADEMICHUB SITES for collections of primary sources. These provide links to credible sites, that have been ‘peer reviewed’ and are academically credible. • General history hub sites: • INTUTE[History resources] • The Institute of Historical Research : – esp. In Focus • http://www.history.ac.uk • Internet History Sourcebook (Fordham University, USA) – chronological and thematic sections • The University of LeicesterHistory Subject Room
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchSpecific Topics • Slavery • American History (civil rights, foreign policy, Space Race etc) • The Victorians
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchSpecific Topics Slavery • History in Focus: Slavery http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/ • Parliament and the British Slave Trade, 1600-1807 http://slavetrade.parliament.uk/ • American Memory: Born in Slaveryhttp://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.htmlfacsimiles of slave narratives (1936-38) • Geography of Slavery in Virginia: http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/gos/ (facsimiles of advertisments for runaway slaves in Virginia)
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchSpecific Topics American History • Virginia Center for Digital History: • http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/index.php?page=Projects Very good resources on the American Civil War, Civil Rights (TV clips), Race Laws • American Memory (Library of Congress): • http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html Primary source collections on multiple topics:, eg: African Americans; WW2, Vietnam, (picture collections, The Stars and Stripes troop newspaper from WW1); US cities, Native Americans
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchSpecific Topics American History • Truman Library http://www.trumanlibrary.org/
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchSpecific Topics The Victorians • Charles Darwin • http://darwin-online.org.uk/ (first editions of the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man; Darwin’s Beagle diary and notebooks) • The Victorian Web: http://www.victorianweb.org/ • Victorian Britain at the British Museum • Victorian Women Writers Project • Historical British Censuses 1801-1961 • History In Focus: The Victorians
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchOnline Bibliographies • Royal Historical Society Bibliography -- online • http://www.rhs.ac.uk/bibl/bibwel.asp • A comprehensive database, updated annually, of all published books and articles on British and Irish history. Multi-period
Using the Internet for Academic ResearchCitation of online sources • Cite URLs as you would a printed source, but include the date which you accessed it (since its content may change afterwards) Eg: Patrick Wormald, ‘Alfred (848/9-899)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/183, accessed 25 June 2007] • This example is from the online version of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), which has 0000 biographies of nationally important figures, from Julius Caesar to the present day. It is available from within Leicester University Library, or via local libraries.
AND FINALLY … • REMEMBER: Not everything is recorded, not everything that was recorded has been preserved, and very little of this is available on-line! • FURTHER ADVICE on using electronic resources is found on the INTUTE website: http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/ • COME BACK TO: The University of Leicester History Subject Room