Historical Research in a Digital Age

With the rise of advanced digital technology making information available in a snap, some historians are left to wonder, “How do we go about ensuring that our research is academic and extensive?” This is a completely justifiable concern! With so much out there, how do we wade through this sea of information to find what is useful, true, and scholarly? Well, I think that it is not as difficult as we sometimes want to make it out to be! It is not a bad thing to start off with a Google search! That can give you a general feel about what is out there on a specific topic! However, you do have to look at the source of the information. Scholarly sources like JSTOR or online archives are a reliable place to start, but you also have to recognize that some of these databases will still have their own biases and interpretations. Something else that is really important to recognize is the fact that there are thousands of archives that have never been digitized. If you are truly looking for detailed information on a specific area, it is still going to be to your benefit to visit local historical societies, libraries, and archives. The process of digitization is lengthy and costly, so often times, you can find pertinent information on site. I know that you can’t always travel to the places you are writing about, which is why the digital era of information is such a help. If you are smart about the sources you are using and you can recognize the possible inconsistencies, incompletes, and biases, you are well on your way to utilizing digital media to the best of its ability in historical research. By looking into digital historical research, I can tell you that I will be adjusting how I fulfill my own research. There are so many helpful insights out there that I plan to utilize! One of those is Zotero, a program that helps to create citations and sources lists. I also think that I will be paying closer attention to the information that is available (or unavailable) on certain sites, and what that can mean for the bias of information. Good luck on your historical research and I hope you can all utilize digital media to the best of your abilities to really enhance the work that you are doing!

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