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History 301: The French Revolution

Research Process Overview

The research process typically includes five broad steps. Most often you complete one step before moving onto the next. However, there may be times when you will need to return to a previous step or complete multiple steps simultaneously.

Step 1. Develop a topic
Selecting a Topic | Develop Research Questions | Identify Keywords | Find Background Information | Refine a Topic

Step 2. Locate information
Find Books | Find Videos | Find Articles | Find Websites | Search Strategies

Step 3. Evaluate and analyze information and sources
Evaluate Sources | Primary v Secondary Sources | Types of Periodicals

Step 4. Use, organize, and communicate information
Notetaking | Paraphrasing

Step 5. Complies with legal, ethical and moral standards
Plagiarism | MLA Citation Style | Works Cited ExamplesCopyright

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources are works created by a person or persons involved in an event, movement, battle, etc. or in newspapers, journals, or other media contemporaneous with the event. Thus, they are first-hand (or primary) accounts of the event and they provide first-hand evidence of what happened. Another way to think of primary sources is as “original,” “uninterpreted” sources which provide an original perspective on an event. Please note that primary sources can come in many formats – they can be published or unpublished, a printed text or a text that has been digitized, an artifact, a recording, a painting or an image. They can also be reprinted or issued for publicatioSecondary sources are more critical analyses of events, movements, battles, etc. They are created by a person or persons who has/have the necessary distance in time and involvement from the event, movement, battle, etc. to write a less personal account.

Secondary sources build upon and interpret primary sources, as well as secondary sources created by others. Thus, secondary sources are second-hand accounts because their creators are one-position removed from first-hand accountsn or made accessible to the public long after their creation.

Courtesy of FSU Libraries


Scholarly/Popular/Peer Reviewed/ Refereed?

Research Consultations

Work with a research librarian to:
  • brainstorm about a paper topic
  • develop a research strategy
  • learn to find and how to use relevant resources.
  • work on any research-related question, problem, or skill.
  • learn about citing in various output styles. 

Hour-long sessions by appointment


Helpful Information