For Students

IMPORTANT RESOURCES

Chicago.

All entries in your guide should be in the Chicago bibliographic form. I consider this extremely important, both for the aesthetic consistency of the website and for the site’s usefulness as a resource tool. Proper citation is also an important skill for all of you budding historians to learn. Still, students frequently have problems getting this right. Everything you need is at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org. A link to the section on documentation is here.

Getting started on WordPress.

Here is a page from the BU Information Services & Technology website about getting started on WordPress.

Here is a “How to…” from the BU Information Services & Technology website about WordPress that includes a 5-minute instructional video.

Zotero.

Zotero is the most useful research tool in history you will ever use. Master it early, use it to collect and annotate your research, and the project will be a snap.

Guides.

My writing guide is here.

My guide to starting your research is here.

The History Department’s writing guide is here.

Looking for examples of what I think is good on the internet? Take a look at some of the sites I have compiled in the Student Resources section of my website.

INSTRUCTIONS

Your Guided History page must be on a topic narrow enough that your guide can be fairly comprehensive. It should include both print and electronic sources. It should include both primary and secondary sources and if available other relevant research guides and search engines. Your job is to distinguish between good and bad sources. Annotate the guide as much as possible, and if you include sources that may potentially be problematic then explain why. You must also include a short introduction (two or three paragraphs) explaining the scope of the topic, why it is important, and a little about the sources you chose. Your research guide should not have a thesis or be organized to argue a particular point. Creating a guide that assembles sources about a topic, while leaving the questions about that topic open-ended, is the challenge students struggle with most. A good research guide should give readers a basic knowledge of the existing scholarship on the topic in question, and provide a number of different avenues for further exploration.

Your guide must include the following components:

Introduction.

A short 1-2 paragraph introduction explaining the following: why the topic is important; what are the major sources; what the existing historiography is; the choice of timeframe; the constituent parts of the guide; if there is a significant starting point, controversy, or debate.

Sections.

You may divide the guide in a way that makes sense for your topic. You should start with some general overview, ususally the key books on your topic. Other sections may include:

-Thematic sections (print and electronic)

-Primary sources (anthologies, institutional websites)

-Related research guides and other electronic sources (online databases, search engines, journals etc.)

-Libraries, archives, museums, historical institutions, professional organizations, government, political parties (these are electronic, but you must annotate your links and say what’s inside and why they’re useful)

Annotations.

In order to be useful, your research guide must be properly annotated. That means every entry must have some explanation for why it is there. Your annotations can take a few possible forms:

-A few words about each book or electronic source

-A few lines or paragraph below the heading for each section explaining the entries below

-You can divide your sections into subsections, and explain entries in clusters

Style.

Your research guide should follow the Chicago citation method with one exception, websites. You do not need to provide full website addresses or “accessed on” information because the reader should be able to navigate to any given website with one simple click. All you need to do is hyperlink the title of the institution to its website. For example, The Russian Museum of Ethnography. You may need to provide a little more information if you are citing a particular collection or page within an institutional site. For example, see here for descriptions of artifacts related to Russian weddings, on the website of The Russian Museum of Ethnography. I hyperlinked “here” to the appropriate page.

For PDF articles from subscription-based databases (Jstor, Project Muse etc.) you do not need to hyperlink to the website or provide the website address. All you need to do is provide the proper citation for a print journal.