Historical Research

1) Discuss what is historical research.
Historical research is a study and analysis of the past events to predict the future. It involves systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past events. Merely collecting data related to the past events and presenting a chronology is not historical research.

2) Enumerate the purposes of historical research.
 The purposes of historical research are:
• To reconstruct the past;
• To discover unknown events;
• To understand significance of events;
• To discover the context of an organization /movement/the situation;
• To find answers to questions about the past;
• To study cause – and effect relationship;
• To study relationship between the past and the present; and
• To record and evaluate the accomplishments of individuals, institutions and other kinds of organizations
• To provide understanding of the immediate phenomenon of concern
• To understand the cultural context of libraries

3) What are the steps involved in conducting historical research?
 The steps involved in conducting historical research are:
• Identification of research topic and formulation of the research problem
• Collection of background information or contextual information about the research topic
• Formulation of the questions to be answered or formulation of hypothesis (es) (if appropriate) to explain causal relationships between historical variables
• Systematic collection of evidence or data or literature review
• Rigorous evaluation of historical resources (the authenticity of the resources and validity of their contents)
• Interpretation
• Synthesis into a narrative account

4) Why does a researcher not prefer secondary sources to primary sources of information?
 A researcher does not prefer secondary to primary sources of information because these report information concerning an event, object, or phenomena not directly observed by the author/ compiler. As a result, the authority of these sources is less compared to those of primary sources.

5) Describe the process of data synthesis in historical research
Data synthesis involves collecting, organizing, analyzing and presenting the data systematically. It is important that the presentation is coherent. Therefore the researcher should plan the presentation regarding how the topics have to be sequenced from general to specific. There should be adequate diagrams supporting the narrative.

6) Why is scientific method difficult to apply in historical research?
It is difficult to apply scientific method to historical research due to lack of precision and objectivity. Historical method of research lacks the rigour of survey and experimental methods. It is post- facto in nature handling complex phenomena where it becomes difficult to apply scientific method.

Historical Research : Systematic collection and objective evaluation of data relating to past events concerning causes, effects or trends of those events to explain present events and predict future events
Library History : Historical research conducted in the field of library and information science

Source: IGNOU Study Material

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