Research Methods 3.10.11 & 10.10.11 — Class overview & Archives

In these class periods [1. I’m summarizing two class periods because they were quite similar, and fit well in one themed post. Plus I’m lazy. ] [1. Note the dates in the post title? If you are unfamiliar with it, the UK system is Day Month Year, rather than the US system of Month Day Year. I’m trying to use British standards as much as possible for my own sanity. Seriously, switching back and forth gets confusing!], we covered the topics of archives, what they are, where they are, and how to use them. We also covered the resources available at Queens, both archives, and online databases, such as JSTOR. While I did find a lot of this to be repetitive because of my background in history, it was still useful, especially as an outsider to Northern Ireland, Ireland, and UK archives.

One of the main archives in Northern Ireland is PRONI [2. http://www.proni.gov.uk/ ], which stands for Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. An electronic archive I this I will find useful is CAIN [3. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/], which stands for the Conflict Archive on the INternet. Haven’t spent much time browsing yet, but look forward to seeing what I can uncover. There are also a number of sites one can use to find archives. Later in the semester I will have to write an ‘Archive Review’ after visiting an archive.

Queens has a nice little archive of it’s own, located in the main library, and affectionately called ‘Special Collections’. They do, however, have a number of resources and I already have picked out several books to look at. I think there will be a visit to the Special Collections Reading Room in the coming days…

I should also mention here how much I love the Queens library. There are several [6. The others are specific to medical and technical students, so I doubt I’ll be using them], so when you hear me talking about ‘the library’ I am really referring to the McClay Library, which is a brand new library opened in 2009. It has four floors, and more books that one could probably read in a lifetime. Entry is only granted to Queens students & staff [7. With the possible exception of people wanting to visit the ‘Special Collections’ otherwise only Queens people], and you have to scan in and out as you go through a turnstile. This is a serious business. Books for classes are held in a ‘short term loan’ area, where you can check them out for 24 hours, 48 hours, or 7 days, depending on the book. Fines are 50 pence [8. About 70 US cents] per hour overdue. You don’t return these books late. All books, short term or otherwise, can be checked-out on any floor using a self-service kiosk. They are returned the same way. Easy. There is lots of study are in the building: desks, computers, chairs, and study rooms. Also, did I mention there is a CS Lewis reading room? The door is a wardrobe door. Awesome!

Alright, that was probably more about the library than my class. Can you tell I am excited about the building? In general, the purpose of this class is to give a practical understanding of how to study history. According to the Module Guide it covers:

  1. Practical Research Skills
  2. Analytical Skills
  3. Research Resources

Each week is taught by a different professor. We have three assessed papers [4. British-speak for ‘graded’], and there is minimal reading for the class. Most of the work is geared towards preparing for writing the dissertation, which most students will probably do next summer. All of the papers are set up in such a way, however, that they can form good starting points for a dissertation, for example one is compiling a possible bibliography. There will also be a worship to help get a topic nailed down. We are also going to visit an archive, PRONI actually, and I am excited about that.

This is a part of my History at Queens series. I am writing on what I’m learning in my modules and as a part of my own research. Hope you enjoy!]

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One thought on “Research Methods 3.10.11 & 10.10.11 — Class overview & Archives

  1. Oh, assessments. How I miss thee. And dates that are ordered correctly.

    Seriously, though … I’m finding it highly amusing/impressive that they named their archive on conflict CAIN. Positively biblical! I bow to their profundity.

    Like

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