Picking a Topic
Think about what you know about the topic possiblities provided by your instructor. Focus on several that especially those that interest you as ideas to investigate. To assist in your research, look for relevant terms and names in your notes and readings as well as consider variables in spelling and alternate terms.
This is done before committing to in-depth research, but you need some "survey-level" research to be sure that appropriate, accessible, and sufficient resources are available to you. You can do this by searching for a person, organization, or topic in the library catalog or a scholarly database. You can also search the web, but there will be an overwhelming amount (much of it low-quality), you will find it difficult and time-consuming to assess valid resources while wading through masses of links.
Doing simple searches reveals the range of primary and secondary materials you could potentially use to write your proposal. The more comprehensive research will start following topic approval.
What Your Topic Means for Your Primary Sources
You have a choice of emphasis in your topic focus, either: "Chinese in America" or "Americans in China."
If you choose to research the experiences of Chinese immigrants, your desired primary sources will be materials and documents created by immigrants and those concerned with them at the time the immigrants were living. This could be US government officials and agencies, welfare organizations, religious organizations, businessmen, or many other groups and individuals. A sample of a primary source can be a diary kept by a Chinese railroad worker. The few diaries of this type are rarely translated, creating access issues if you do not read Chinese. You need to think of a way to address the topic that will rely on materials written in languages you can read. Solutions to this could be to look for government reports written in English on the Chinese railroad workers, newspaper reporting, or documents from the railroads concerning the workers.
If you choose to research the experiences of Americans as tourists, explorers, entrepreneurs, artists, students, military, or missionaries in China, primary materials relevant to your research will generally have been written or created by members of those groups. You can search by occupation or pasttime if you do not know names of individuals as a means to discover sources.
As you search for materials in books, the databases, and open web, you are likely to accumulate a large number of sources. How are you going to manage them all?
Maybe you like the retro method of hard copy file cards, but there are more modern means that take advantage of technology.
A free cloud-based app that allows you to snag and store documents and other formats in libraries with tags and notes. Create bibliographies in a number of citation styles. Create an account and your materials are available wherever you have internet access. Fee-based options also available.
Free, does not offer the capabilty to create bibliographies, but can be shared with others.
Group Work Resources
Google Groups if you wish to communicate via online discussion.
Google Documents allows text editing of documents by those in a group.
Last Update: September 12, 2014 09:16