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Drama 54-183/62-183 Writing History Plays: Research Best Practices

Research best practices

Research is rarely ever well-achieved in a straight line

  • Intrigue!
  • Curiosity is key

Become familiar with resources available on your topic

Log your keyword strategies when searching databases and the web to minimize search replication in:

  • library catalogs such as Cameo and WorldCat
  • article databases
  • search engines (such as Google)
  • open web sources such as Google Scholar

Evaluate resources


Primary and secondary resources

Primary and secondary resources work hand in hand to help inform understanding of an historic person or event. Their efficacy in informing your research can overlap. Educated guesses are often necessary but must be based in exhaustive research using as many viable resources as possible.

Primary resources are direct links to the past including original documents, artifacts or accounts produced by a creator/witness in close space and time to the person or event. In the purest sense the source is in its original form--not condensed, interpreted or evaluated.

  • birth certificate, letters, diaries, correspondence, memoranda, photographs, oral recordings or transcripts, documentary media (photography, audio, video), art work, interviews, legal documents, court records, testimonies, scrapbooks, speeches, electronic recordings or facsimiles from a viable source...
  • be aware that original documents can be biased and/or persons and events misinterpreted. 

Secondary resources  are based in commentary, analysis or description outside the time and space frame of the historic person, creation or event.

  • biography, autobiography, newspaper articles, scholarly journal articles, dissertations, historical fiction...


Tertiary resources help organize and locate secondary and primary resources

  • bibliography, encyclopedias, historic surveys, timelines/chronologies, yearbooks...