Historical Methods in Mass Communication

By James D. Startt; William David Sloan | Go to book overview

4
Basic Procedures and Techniques

How should one begin a project in history? Let us assume the project is one of considerable length -- a seminar or convention paper, a journal article, or a longer work: a thesis, a dissertation, or even a book. There are basic procedures to follow. At the start of a project, however, one must ask: What is it that I want to do with this study? How can it be done? What are the practical considerations to take into account? What will make it a worthwhile study? With such questions in mind, one can appreciate the fact that beginnings are never easy. So much is at stake. Barriers, known and unknown, lie ahead. There is vastness to confront and manage. Mistakes made at this point can haunt one throughout the entire study. They can even ruin it. In this chapter we shall consider some basic procedures that one should follow at the outset of a project.


Preliminary Reading

When students and scholars contemplate research in history, in any part of history, they already have started to think about a subject to investigate. From either general interest or previous courses, they have acquired at least a semblance of knowledge about a particular subject. The task they face now is that of sharpening the degree of knowledge they have, and general reading about the subject in its larger historical setting is a logical place to begin. How much of this general or preliminary reading is necessary? The answer depends on the person involved in the task. We all approach research with varying degrees of knowledge about a field that attracts our interest.

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Historical Methods in Mass Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Nature of History 1
  • 2 - Interpretation in History 19
  • 3 - The Fundamentals of 'Good' History 41
  • 4 - Basic Procedures and Techniques 65
  • 5 - Searching for Historical Materials 81
  • 6 - Historical Sources and Their Evaluation 113
  • 7 - Explanation in History 141
  • 8 - Writing 157
  • 9 - Presentation and Publication 171
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index of Subjects 195
  • Index of Names 205
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