Researching your paper can be the most entertaining part of the entire process – you’re taking in new information, expanding your knowledge on a subject and enriching your understanding of a moment in history, but you need to be able to provide accurate information on paper when you come to finally put it all together. From utilising an ancient history encyclopedia, to triple checking the facts you find from sources across the web, we’ve put together a simple guide to making sure you’re getting accurate information for your history paper. Read on to find out.
Use Primary Sources
If you’ve written papers before, you’re probably already sick of hearing this point but the value behind it is undeniable – you need to use primary sources where possible. While you aren’t going to be able to sip tea with Queen Elizabeth or battle through the trenches of World War I for a first-hand experience, speaking to experts, reading first-hand accounts, finding historical or legal documents, recordings, objects and similar are all forms of primary resource and can provide you with the most accurate information of all. Make sure to properly cite these sources, and where possible, provide the fact as well as your interpretation of analysis points.
Use An Encyclopaedia
Encyclopedias are put together with great care, research and dedication and can offer a perfect starting point for any history paper. Trustworthy encyclopaedias will offer you accurate information and will often provide links or other suggested sources through which you can explore a subject or topic further. For this reason, an encyclopaedia is a great place to find accurate information for any paper, not just a history paper, but remember to further your research for a more in-depth look at your given topic.
Double, Triple and Quadruple Check Your Facts
You’ve likely been told to double check your facts already and where history is concerned, this is extremely important. In a lot of cases, history can all be down to interpretation, especially where there isn’t much information available and for this reason, the ‘facts’ that you find might be anything but. Instead, they could simply be a suggested time frame, someone’s guesswork or an inference. Triple checking and then checking again will help you determine whether this is the case and whether you can use the original source and fact in your piece.
Look At The Suffixes On Web Addresses
The internet is an amazing tool right there at your fingertips, but sorting fact from fiction is often much harder when there’s so much information at your disposal. While it’s not necessarily a foolproof method every time, the suffixes at the end of a web address can often tell you everything you need to know about the type of website your visiting and give you a much more clear view as to the reliability of the information.
- .edu – This suffix is given to sites designed for or by educational institutions, and for this reason, the information is usually reliable. It’s still best to double check your facts, but ‘edu’ sites are often the most reliable of all.
- .org – .org sites are given to non-commercial organisations, for the most part, however, it’s important to note that this can often come with a bias to suit the organisation’s agenda.
- .gov – .gov is given to government websites and will usually hold reliable information, particularly for students though often on a local basis.
- .com – this suffix can essentially be given to any business, service or company looking to sell or provide some kind of commercial offering. Information found on these sites is often best checked over.
Other suffixes, particularly location-based suffix’, should be taken on a site-by-site basis. Regardless, checking your information can give you extra peace of mind regardless.
Cite All Of Your Sources
Finally, make sure that you cite every source that you use. While this won’t necessarily help you find accurate information, it gives your educator, marker or readers the opportunity to follow up a fact they may be sceptical or curious about with ease. This way, you are covering your back in the case that it is wrong by ensuring that you haven’t made a sweeping statement, or made up statistical or historical data.
Writing a paper is often stressful enough without concerns over the accuracy of information, but by ensuring your research gets off on the right foot, to begin with, the entire process can be made much smoother.