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How to Research

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I know this is so repetitive and most likely going to throw a few moderators out of their chairs in frustration, but I honestly do not have any clue how to begin my research. I have e-mailed my teacher (but he's in Europe) and called last year's history teacher, who had no knowledge about my topic (French history). He also did not offer any usable advice. He simply told me to just read, which I have been doing for a week now, but what do I read?

I have a plethora of sources, but what exacting am I looking for? Am I supposed to save everything? I have what seems to be an answer to my research question, but how do I "answer" it? I have read through various outlines (both on the IB Survival website and on other college website who contributed guides to research papers), but none of them specifically tell me what I'm supposed to be doing.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance. I want to get this done as soon as possible. Thank you!

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FRENCH HISTORY! I have an AWESOME book that will help you! What's your question? (*to self* Dial down the crazy, Hannah. Dial it down.)

Well, you have to look at the theories/historiography that's available. Look up historians who are experts/known for research in the topic area and evaluate their views on the topic. Look into different history books and sources- if you can, take a museum tour and try to talk to somebody who works at the museum since they might know a few things you can put in your essay. Just remember to take down their name, position and the museum they work at in case you decide to use what they tell you!

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:no: :no: :no:

Haha oh dear. Research basically works thus: you pick your EE title which should be in the form of some kind of challenge or question, which you've already done. Then you think to yourself, what kind of information do I need exactly to help me answer this question?

For instance, I did mine on paternalism vs autonomy in Philosophy, so I thought I'd need a definition and discussion of paternalism, the same for autonomy and then to begin to read around current writing on those arguments, bearing in mind my topic (placebos). The best way to start out with the current writing is to head directly for a textbook or some kind of summary text. For a science EE you should be reading journal reviews, for written subjects like History I suggest textbooks. Check out your school library or local library.

The idea of looking in the textbook is that it helps you identify the main sources which are out there and that you should then go and get hold of. Read footnotes and see where information has come from in the first book you look at, then follow it backwards and you'll find papers, articles, artwork and a whole myriad of sources. Ultimately there is a lot more out there than you can read, but if you look at what other people have cited it will often lead you to the most important/relevant information. Google them if you can - Google Books or whatever has a surprising number of really weird/obscure stuff on there, so you may well find it, even if it's very weird!

The research takes ages (considerably longer than writing the essay, often, depending on how slow a writer you are...) and is a very organic process - you basically keep going until you feel like you have enough stuff to support your arguments and make your case. Also you may come across stuff which is so interesting it forces you to change your question for your EE :P Or spend ages on stuff you never include.

A few things to say - firstly, make a word document and copy/paste all useful links, articles etc. that you find and if you have time now, make sure you write out whatever information it is in the form of a reference. You know like Smith, J. (2002) French History Explained. Routledge. London. <--- that kind of thing. You will hate yourself if you have information you can't reference later on because it means either finding it all over again or leaving it out.

Secondly, don't reference the web page if you can reference the original article/book! Look in the web page's reference and try your best to track it down. Then once you have, do you best to track down an actual copy of it so you can verify that the website you got it from got their information right. Perhaps unsurprisingly, websites make a hell of a lot of mistakes/make up a lot of information/misquote a lot!

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