Professor Engen has given you a great deal of latitude on your topic, but does have high expectations of what you will use in researching that topic.
This course guide is to help you to find the best with the least amount of time and effort:
History research is NOT a book report on what has been said before...you are looking for a question that doesn't seem to have been answered. This establishes a place for you to shine by adding to the body of historical studies.
This can be challenging, but as our interpretations of our past continually change in light of modern thinking and new discoveries, there are plenty of topics to explore!
While you are exploring, keep flexible with an open mind and do not 'lock' your thesis to start.
Analyze the source material you need. Books, articles, newspapers, photos, diaries, government publications? there is wide variety of materials, but remember primary sources are of primary importance to you! (yes, that was deliberate.)
Primary sources can be letters, diaries, contemporary newspaper reports, maps or other first-person accounts and evidence. These are generated AT THE TIME of the event or era.
--Note: Ancient and world history have limitations in what is available to you due to scarcity, access limitations, and language. That does not let you off the hook for doing a thorough job but wil make it more difficult, so think carefully about your topic.
--Modern-day translations of ancient or older works are considered primary source as long as they are meet scholarly standards (e.g., a graphic novel about the Peloponnesian War is NOT a primary source.)
Secondary sources are articles and books that examine a number of works to create an argument and text. Secondary sources are written years AFTER the event or time period and through differing social lenses. Check the sources used to make sure the source material was primary sources and not a re-hash of secondary work.
--Note: The older the topic, the more material you will find on it. Is that a good thing? Generally no. You wade through more 'stuff' and will find a lot more discredited interpretations on longstanding topics.
Ask yourself: What is available to me to inform and support my research? If you cannot find enough primary evidence due to issues such as access, language, or scarcity, it is time to re-think your topic.
Identify where to locate what you need. Is it in a book, article collection, newspaper database, or an image collection? In looking at secondary sources, might there be appendices to direct you to additional sources that you need? Which databases will provide the relevant sources?
Collect tools that will help you organize your resources, such as Zotero. An additional tool to help you with word use is the Oxford English Dictionary, found in the CSUSM Databases collection.
Do not wait to start!
Collect your research in print or electronic format. After finding a few pieces, start sorting into folders or topic collections. This will help you see themes and potential questions to drive your thesis.
Keep in mind "Judith's rule of research"--If you haven't found something useful in your first 15 minutes, take time to ask for help!