Historical Research





Historical Research


What is Historical Research?
The systematic collection and evaluation of data to describe, explain, and understand actions or events that occurred sometime in the past.
There is no manipulation or control of variables as in experimental research.
An attempt is made to reconstruct what happened during a certain period of time as completely and accurately as possible.
Historical Research
The researcher tries to record and understand events of the past
Provides a better understanding of the present
Suggest possible future directions
Historical research:
tries to discover facts
tries to get at truth
involves the collection of data
The Purposes
of Historical Research
To make people aware of what has happened in the past in order to:
    1. Learn from past failures and successes
    2. Apply them to present-day problems
    3. Make predictions
    4. Test hypotheses concerning relationships or trends
    5. Understand present educational practices and policies
The Nature of Historical Data
The data already exist.  New data cannot be generated, only found.
The data cannot be controlled in the same way as they are controlled in other types of research
Whatever data are found must be validated
Sources of Historical Data
Primary Sources:
Original documents
Remains of documents
Physical artifacts
Eyewitness accounts
Firsthand information
Connected directly to an event
Primary Sources
v  Minutes of meetings
v  Medical records
v  Original speeches
v  Original manuscripts
v  Tax records
v  awards
v  Committee reports
v  Court proceedings
v  Diplomas
v  Memoirs
v  Autobiographies
v  Written eyewitness accounts
v  Photographs
v  Buildings
v  Costumes
v  Paintings
v  Video recordings
v  Lecture notes
v  Facilities
Secondary Sources:
q  Hearsay evidence
q  Not joined directly to the event
q  An interpreter is placed between the researcher and the event
q  Examples include textbooks, newspapers, encyclopedias, bibliographies
Oral History
Taped interviews with individuals who are in a position to recall their involvement and perceptions of various events and movements
Biographical Research
Studies the life, career, and contributions of former leading scholars, teachers, coaches, administrators, dancers, health educators and re-creators to provide a better understanding of the philosophies and movements in our fields

Problems of the Biographer
Ø  Faulty memory of primary source people
Ø  Inability to interview a primary source person
Ø  Failing to discover a primary source person or document.
Ø  Response of a living subject could be biased
Ø  Controversial aspects of a person’s life might be offensive to living relatives.
Ø  Striking a balance between being too vague and providing too much detail.
Ø  Organizing the data and writing an interesting narrative.
Steps of Historical research
In general, Historical research involves the following five steps:
  1. Selection of the problem
  2. Formulation of the hypotheses
  3. Collection of Data
  4. Criticism of Data
  5. Interpretation of Data and Reporting of finding

Format for the Report
Chapter 1:  Introduction
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Significance of the Study
Delimitations
Limitations
Chapter 2:  Review of Literature and Procedures
Nature of information needed
Sources of data
Procedures for collecting data
Organization and analysis of data
Criticism of Data
Evaluating Historical Data
  • Internal Criticism:
  • Assesses the meaning of the content of the document
  • Did the event really occur?
  • Did it take place as it was described?
  • How consistent is the writer’s account with other reports of the same event?
External Criticism:
  • Determines the authenticity, genuineness, and validity of the source of the data
  • Physical and chemical tests of artifacts
  • Tests of signature, script, handwriting, spelling and type
  • Consistency in language use in relation to the time period
Interpretation of Data
After the data have been collected and criticized, the researchers start the task of interpretation of the data in the light  of their problem. The writing of the historical research report needs the highest level of scholarship on the part of the researcher. the presentation of the report should be objective and systematic, and should not hide the truth. The historical research report must be presented in the logical and chronological order. 
Steps Involved in Historical Research
Defining the Problem
Locating relevant sources
Documents
Numerical records
Oral statements
Relics
Summarizing information obtained from historical sources
Evaluation of historical sources
Internal criticism
External criticism
Data Analysis
in Historical Research
Historical researchers use the following methods to make sense out of large amounts of data:
Theoretical model leading to a content analysis
Use of patterns or themes
Coding system
Quantitative data to validate interpretations
Advantages and Disadvantages
of Historical Research
Advantages
Permits investigation of topics and questions that can be studied in no other fashion
Disadvantages
Cannot control threats to internal validity
Limitations are imposed due to the content analysis
Researchers cannot ensure representation of the sample
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