Research in Historical Sources and Methods


Summer Session I

TuTh 4:00-6:30pm

Taliaferro 2103

Prof. Daryle Williams
Department of History
2131A Francis Scott Key Hall
(301) 405-4267

Course Description and Objectives

HIST 819W is intended to familiarize History graduate students to the various research sources and methods used in historical research. Through a series of assigned projects and peer critiques, the course aims to prepare enrolled students for original research in the humanities and social sciences.

Course Organization  

The course begins with an introduction to the fundamentals of information classification (e.g., natural and controlled vocabulary, Library of Congress Subject Headings, Boolean operators) and access at the University of Maryland, particularly ResearchPort. We then proceed to four modules covering methods and sources in four selected disciplinary clusters (History and Anthropology; Literature, Cultural Studies and Cinema; Social Sciences; Art History and the Visual Arts).  A fields trip or two may be planned. 

Course Requirements 

There are two main requirements for the course: Plans of Research and the final paper.    

Plans of Research: Logistics  

During each module, the class will be divided into pairs of an Author and a Respondent. Each Author will be assigned a problem in need of a carefully-crafted research paper.  Each Author will develop a Plan of Research that establishes key themes, methodologies, and sources relevant to the assigned problem.  A draft of the plan will be presented to the class. The Respondent will prepare preliminary feedback for the AuthorŐs in-class presentation. Based upon the Respondent's feedback and other comments raised in class, the Author will revise and update his/her Plan of Research, submitting a final draft one week later.   The Author-Respondent pairings will change for each of the four modules, with each student switching roles.  Thus, all students will play the role of Author and Respondent twice.  

Plans of Research: Plans of Research  

Each Plan of Research should be approximately eight pages and contain the following components:

1) a compelling hypothesis that engages the central problems raised in the assigned topic and your approach to it;
2) a discussion of the salient terminological, methodological, and empirical issues necessary to substantiate your hypothesis and pursue further research;
3) a annotated log of the research strategies and discovery process employed in the crafting of the Plan of Research. The log should provide specific detail on types of sources used, the order in which they were used. False starts, dead ends, and changed directions should be documented in the research log;
4) a bibliography that identifies up to twenty (20) significant sources that might be used in the development of a full research project. The bibliography must include print and electronic sources. The bibliography should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style.  

The written portion of the RespondentŐs feedback should be approximately three-to-four pages, and contain critical assessments of the following components:  
1) the hypothesis
2) terminological, methodological, and empirical issues
3) the search strategy and discovery process
4) the bibliography

These case studies will evaluated for the quality of the hypothesis statement, the presence of a clear and compelling case for methodological and empirical significance of the chosen plan of research, an effective and critical use of print and electronically resources, and finally creativity.    

Final Paper 

Each student will be required to submit a final paper appropriate to the stage of his/her academic career. Students can choose between writing a research proposal suitable for a major grant program (e.g. Social Science Research Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays, Fulbright-IIE) or a prospectus for a master's or doctoral thesis.  The paper is due no later than Commencement.  


As such, there are no assigned readings. However, relevant readings related to the challenge(s) of research may be assigned during the course.  

Style Manuals  

When citing works listed in your research log, you may use the citation style appropriate to the print or electronic database from which the citation was selected. However, the bibliography component of the Plan of Research must conform to the Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.)  (NOTE: The most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style incorporates the classic A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertation, developed by Kate Turabian.)   An online guide to the CMS and other styles is available through the University Libraries at: http://www.lib.umd.edu/guides/style_manuals.html.


The final grade will be determined using the following formula:  

Case Studies


Final Project


Class Participation


Statement of Academic Integrity 

Essential to the fundamental purpose of the University is the commitment to principles of truth and academic honesty. Because academic dishonesty, which refers to cheating, plagiarism, or helping someone else to cheat or commit plagiarism, jeopardizes the quality of education and depreciates the genuine achievement of others it must be reported to the Honor Council. The Code of Academic Integrity guides this and all other courses taught at the University of Maryland. Violations may result in a failing grade and/or referral to a University disciplinary committee. The full text of the Code is available on-line at http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/code.html.  

The Honor Pledge 

Under the provisions of the resolution adopted by the University Senate on April 9, 2001, and approved by President Mote on May 10, 2001, all students will be asked to write by hand and sign the following pledge on all written assignments and examinations, unless otherwise instructed: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination. For additional information on the Student Honor Pledge, visit http://www.umd.edu/honorpledge.

Course Calendar  

June 3

Course Introduction

June 5

Information Resources & Research Techniques

June 10

Presentations on Controlled Vocabulary
MODULE I: History and Anthropology

June 12

Research Sources and Techniques

June 17

Discussion and Critique of Plans of Research


MODULE II: Literature, Cultural Studies, and Film

June 19

Research Sources and Techniques

June 24

Discussion and Critique of Plans of Research


MODULE III: Social Sciences

June 26

Research Sources and Techniques

July 1

Discussion and Critique of Plans of Research


MODULE IV: Art History and Visual Culture

July 3

Research Sources and Techniques

July 8

Discussion and Critique of Plans of Research

July 10 Field Trip