It’s the end of January, which for humanities students means only one thing, essay season is approaching. In light of upcoming deadlines, one of my International Relations professors invited a librarian from Graham Library, to give a talk on conducting historical research. After the lecture, my professor encouraged students to book a research consultation appointment to guide our research process.
During my three semesters at U of T, I have written several research essays. However, I previously never took advantage of the research advising services offered on campus. With my curiosity piqued and the encouragement of my professor, I decided to book a consultation to discuss my essay. Coming out of the experience, I can say that my only regret is not visiting sooner!
In preparation for the session, I conducted preliminary research on my topic. I wanted to see what resources I could find on my own and expand them with the help of a librarian. I also discussed my topic in advance with the librarian via e-mail, which helped her recommend specific resources for me later! This was immensely helpful because it helped me notice important books on my topic that I previously overlooked.
The session also further acquainted me with the primary and secondary resources available for historical research at U of T. Not only was I provided with general advice on researching, but the librarian also pointed me in the direction of specific books and journals that would be useful for my topic of research. The librarian’s academic background in international relations made her advice particularly helpful! She guided me through different databases accessible to U of T students. Before the appointment, my research process revolved around searching for books on the UT Libraries website and looking for journal articles exclusively on Google Scholar and JStor. While this left me with information adequate for my previous assignments, I think that I would have written better essays had I booked a research consultation sooner.
One of my favourite takeaways from the session is that U of T students have access to a database full of old newspapers. They’re all available here on the UT Libraries website. Learning about this made me think “I should probably know this already!” Previously my go-to method for finding old news sources was looking through the archives of various newspaper websites or searching Google Newspapers. This option offers a much more extensive selection of international and regional newspapers that beats any haphazard Google search!
After my research consultation, I would not hesitate to recommend the service to other students! Despite going into the session feeling confident in my abilities as a researcher, I came out knowing many things I didn’t before. The thirty minutes I spent at the session saved me time that I would have spent looking for research material, perhaps in the wrong place. I think that in the future this will help me conduct better and more productive research for my essays.