- Select a topic that interests you.
- Start from what you know: your class reading and lectures, what you’ve read in the media or heard in other classes.
- Do some preliminary research on your topic to determine if you can find enough information. Not too broad, but not too narrow! It’s good to check your topic before it’s too late to change.
- Familiarize yourself with the context around the topic. Whether you are researching a particular woman in African history or a particular topic, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the African countries you are looking at.
- Resources may exist in the language of the colonial government and may dictate how names are written. For example, Njinga could be written as “Nzingha” or “Nzinga”.
Arm yourself with as much information as possible and all possible variations of a name as you conduct your research:
It is critical in the number of results you retrieve when using the library catalog, electronic databases, and the internet.
- Identify authors who are specialists in the field, search for other works they have written.
- Whom do those authors cite? Check the bibliographies of books on your topic in order to find additional resources.
- If the topic is extremely specific, for example, you want to find rites & traditions performed by the Masai when a child is born, try looking at a more general book such as an ethnography of the people. Search chapter headings and indexes for the information you need.