Top Ten Tips from History Graduates Giora Sternberg and Rich McKay 1. Project Management • Pick a topic that you (and not just your supervisor) are passionate about. • Always keep in mind an ‘organic blueprint’: your project will grow and evolve as you progress and it will be helpful for you to move back and forth between a view of the trees and one of the forest. 2. Notes, Notes, Notes! • Start your bibliography file early on in your research. Update it regularly. • Make notes on everything you read. • Locate all archival holdings of interest and make notes on them. Keep track of what you have consulted, and what you haven’t (and why). Stall 12: Endnote v Refworks 3. Organisation • Get into good habits early. • Make careful notes, and keep track of your own thoughts and ideas. This will help you see how your research is developing. • Don’t delete anything! If you must, put items in a ‘Things I want to delete’ file. • Back up your work and research notes - REGULARLY! 4. Beyond the Bodleian • You are likely to find that books in your subject area are spread across several different libraries, in Oxford and beyond. • Use the British Library and the US Library of Congress catalogues - great for locating primary and secondary sources. • Use COPAC to check holdings in other UK libraries, including specialist collections. Stall 6 & talk 15:35 The British Library 5. Online resources • Check out Oxford e-Resources (including OxLIP+ and e-Journals). • Try Historical Abstracts, IHR History On-Line, JSTOR, Google Scholar, etc. • Many journals offer ‘alert’ systems, which tell you when a new issue is published, when a particular article is cited, or an article appears on a certain subject, and much more. Stall 10: Keeping up-to-date 6. Archives • Archives have a learning curve – be patient and plan ahead. • Don’t be afraid to contact archives and ask questions about their holdings. • Tell the staff exactly what you’re working on so that they can help you find what you need. • Find out the policy governing digital cameras. • Be nice! You may need to come back. 7. Computing • Find out what OUCS can do for you. They offer computer support, a wide range of courses and great facilities. • Single-Sign-On (SSO) - remote access from outside the university network is easier than ever – all you need is your webmail username and password. • You might still find VPN useful as the university switches increasingly to newer technologies. Stall 12: IT for historians 8. Seminars • Find out what seminars are going on both in Oxford (check faculty websites) and elsewhere (such as the IHR). • Seminars can be a great way of making contact with other graduates and researchers. • Listening to other people’s work can help you think about your own research in different ways. 9. More networking • Approach other academics in your field and talk to them about your research - they may give you useful tips. • Find out what conferences are available in your subject area. • Don’t be afraid to contact experts in your field. • Informal contacts can turn into invitations to present papers and even job offers. 10. Psycho-social aspects1 • Importance of maintaining other interests – historical research can be a solitary experience. • Uncertainty is normal – as you go along it doesn’t disappear, you just get better at dealing with it. • Peer groups can help you to develop ideas and writing. • Mentoring – learn from your elders! 1 Not just footnotes. Good luck!