World History at




History Research at KMLA - Stages



(I)     The Selection of a Research Topic

Students should write about a topic they are interested in, as it takes sustained effort and attention to convert a concept into a finalized written paper.
However, potential topics have to pass a check list :
       (a)     is there a clearly-defined base of resources
       (b)     are these resources accessible to high school students (accessible/affordable/ in a language he/she can handle)
       (c)     is the base of resource appropriatre uin terms of size (or too small/too wide)
       (d)     is the topic original (to result in more than a mere summary of something already written)
In order to make sure that the topic is original and manageable, students are to discuss their ideas of research paper topics with the teacher.

(II)     Registered History Research Paper Topics

As of March 2008, ongoing history research projects are listed on this site, f.ex. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/0809/rp11.html. As some of these research projects may not be completed, students' names are given as initials. Students are expected to present stages of their research for posting (students' log); teachers' comments are posted in teacher's log.

(III)     Reference List

As discussed in (I), the base of resources is of crucial importance. Students shall begin with compiling a temporary list of references, which is - until the finalized version of the paper is handed in - is subject to change.

(IIIa)     Reference List : Primary Documents

Example : papers examining topics based on the coverage in a particular newspaper.
The student will go through abstracts of newspaper articles, select relevant articles and get a hold of these. It is advisable to compose a list of these relevant articles in chronological order, to be published as an appendix to the rersearch paper in question; this should be done at an early stage in the research project.

(IIIb)     Reference List : List of Printed and Online Resources (Secondary Sources)

Most research papers will be based on secondary sources, because primary sources are comparatively difficult to access. Students are recommended to compile a working bibliography at an early stage of their research project, and to present it for posting / comment. Students may begin their quest for publications on their topic by using www.amazon.com (for books in print), www.abebooks.com (for antiquarian books); http://www.kessinger.net/index.php (for reprints of out-of-print books) results depend on the keywords used (use a variety of keywords, not just one). The result will be somewhat accidental, as it depends on the availability of titles. A more professional approach makes use of the Historical Dicionary by Country Series published by Scarecrow, many volumes of which are either held by KMLA library or found in Mr. Ganse's office. These volumes contain an extensive bibliography. Always check if a recent updated version has been issued; if yes, go for the most recent edition, as it has an updated bibliography section. Try find these on www.abebooks.com, to save on expenses. Disadvantage - the series covers the history of existing states. Example : there is a ROK volume, but no volume covering Korea prior to 1945.
Search for specialized bibliographies on the internet. A vast bibliography online, for insance, is http://www.ubka.uni-karlsruhe.de/hylib/iblk/ Datenbasis "Internationale Beziehungen und Länderkunde" (IBLK) [Data Basis International Relations and Country Studies]. While the site is in German language, most entries registered are in English. It has entries for every country of the world, often for regions and cities. Keyword search : use both the name of the country in English and alternatively in German; the number of titles found when using the German spelling is often larger than that the English spelling throws out. How do you get the German spelling ? Go into Wikipedia, look for country in question, click for German version of the Wikipedia. The IBLK bibliography contains a huge number of publications published from 1970 onward.
When you get a hold of some books on your topic, look first into the reference list of these books; you may stumble over further publications.
When compiling a working bibliography, which you may update any time, divide your working bibliography into two sections : section A, publications you intend to use, section B, publications which you consider(ed) to use. As a high school student, your financial resources and access to academic libraries are limited, and your paper can not be measured by academic standards. However, your paper will be posted, and your reader may have access to an academic library, and if you give him the titles of publications which may give further information, he/she might welcome that. Also, if during the vacation, you might enter an academic library in Seoul or elsewhere, you would have a list which may help you find what you look for quickly.
Reference lists should not limit themselves to books / printed publications only, but include information available on the web.
Reference lists should include a bibliography section - list the search engines, (printed) bibliographies used.

(IIIc)     Reference List : Sources printed in languages not using the Latin alphabet

Post the text in a gif file. Either make a separate file for all titles in question as one large gif file, or create a number of small gif files, one for every title you list. Reason : users who want to read your paper may not have a Korean font at their disposal.
see Sim Chi Kyu's paper, bibliography (http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/0708/chikyu/chikyu2.html#bib) for the title by title approach

(IIIc)     Establish Access to Selected, Essential Sources

(IV)     Outline and Working Table of Contents

Ask yourself : What questions do you want to answer ? These questions should lead to the formulation of working chapter titles.
At an early stage in the project, students are expected to present an outline and/or a working table of contents. It is understood that the (working) table of contents, in the course of the research project, is subject to change.

(V)     From Concept to Finalized Paper

During the last years, experience shows that only c.30-40 % of the research papers in history were completed. This may have a number of reasons, some of which involve that students, after the initial phase (advice on the topic / on how to find books) felt that the next step expected of them was to hand in the completed paper, andf the guiding teacher had limited opportunity to comment / advise.
Therefore, he student's and teacher's logs were inroduced.
Students tend to think : I have to read all my (15) books first, then I write. When they finished reading, hey know the facts, but forgot where they found a specific peace of information. Advice : never read without pen and paper; make notes when reading. When reading, read with specific questions in mind. For most books : do not read everything written in the book in front of you, try extract the information you need. That way, reading may be a faster process. Only a few books are of such an importance for your topic that you may decide to read them cover to cover.
Students are advised to pick a chapter from their working table of contents, read several books on the topic simultaneously (parallel reading), write chapter complete with notes, and present it for posting / comment.
Perhaps when writing chapter III you figure out that you missed information or misinterpreted information when you wrote chapter I, So complete chapter III, fix chapter I, or if necessary change table of contents.

(VI)     The Right to Change

The student researching a historical topic has the right to change any part of his paper posted in stages on the students' log until the moment he hands in the finalized version. Such changes may affect the working title, the working table of contents, the bibliography, individual chapters.

(VII)     The Last Chapter to Write

The Introduction.


April 5th 2008

Alexander Ganse