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History: Start Your Assignment

How to Start Your Research Assignment

What do you have to do to successfully complete this assignment? How long will each step take you?

Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish. Set a schedule to finish each task. Put the schedule into your calendar.

Is your topic the right size? Most students choose a topic that is too large. Doing some presearch on your topic can help you get the big picture and understand what narrower topics are available.

Reference resources help you get started on a new topic, answer quick questions, and/or point you to further resources. Examples of reference resources include:
Almanacs -
Atlases - Dictionaries - Encyclopedias - Handbooks - Indexes - Thesauri

Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Credo Reference is a collection of all of the above.

What questions will you need to answer to write about your topic? What information will you need to find to support your argument?

Make a list to help guide your research.


It's true - keywords are the key to success when it comes to research. Generating a list of keywords before you start searching - and adding to the list as you go - will make you an efficient, effective searcher. If you can't find what your looking for, it's probably due to bad keywords. 

  1. Write down your topic.
  2. Identify which of the words you've written can be used as keywords. Hint: pick only ones with meaning directly connected to your topic. Ex. Are safe-injection sites good for Vancouver
  3. Brainstorm synonyms, broader & narrower and related words. Ex. safe-injection sites = Insite, needle exchanges; Vancouver = Lower Mainland, Canada, BC, British Columbia, Fraser Health


What kind of resources are you able to use for this assignment?  Where can you find these kinds of resources?

  • academic vs popular
  • primary vs secondary
  • media 
  • reports and data

Browse the Shelves

Academic libraries in North America organize their collections according to the Library of Congress Classification system. History material is shelved in the C through F sections at CapU Library. To assist you in browsing, the following provides a further breakdown:

C History (Auxiliary Sciences)
CB History of Civilization
CC Archaeology
D History (General & Old World)
DA-DR Europe
DA Great Britain
DD Germany
DK Russia
DS Asia
DT Africa
E & F History of America
E51-E99 Indians of NA
E151-F999 United States
FC Canada
FC2001-FC4350 Provinces & Territories
FC3801-FC3850 British Columbia

Featured RSS feed: History News

Check out the latest history news headlines from George Mason University's History News Network:


Featured film: Louisbourg Under Siege

This feature-length National Film Board (NFB) documentary Louisbourg Under Siege (Albert Kish, 1997, 45 min) brings to life the siege and fall of Louisbourg in 1745, a turning point in North American history. This and many more historically important films and films about history are available to view on the NFB History Channel.


Featured podcast: On MacDonald & McGee

Who says Canadian history is boring! Listen while you work to this interesting interview by Michael Enright, host of the CBC Sunday Edition in conversation with biographers about two of the more intriguing Fathers of Confederation. Biographer Richard Gwyn talks about Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada's first prime minister, while University of Toronto scholar David Wilson talks about the poet of Confederation, Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

Subject Guide

Michel Castagné's picture
Michel Castagné
LB 112C
604-986-1911 (2143)