When working on a research project, save yourself a lot of time and aggravation with one simple step. Keep track of your research trail. What is a research trail? Think back to the story of Hansel and Gretel, and those pebbles they dropped on the ground to find the way back home.
Instead of pebbles, make notes, either on your computer or in a notebook, of the sources you have searched. And also keep track of the search terms you have used. This trail or log will make sure you do not repeat the same searches, and also, if you meet with a librarian or your professor for a research consultation, you can show exactly what you have completed, and the sources you have already located. The trail notes can also help build your bibliography and footnotes later, when you are drafting your paper.
So, save yourself time, and be sure to make a trail of your research!
So you have located (with the help of a reference librarian) a few scholarly articles or books related to your research topic. Want a quick way to multiply the sources without hitting the databases or online catalog? Take a look at the footnotes!
Footnotes provide a wealth of citations to sources on your topic, primarily from other reliable academic sources. You can now take these citations, and locate them using the online catalog (for books and ebooks) or subscriptions databases and Google Scholar (for articles).
The footnotes can also lead you to authors or experts in your field of inquiry. Search the online catalog, subscription databases and Google Scholar to find additional materials these scholars have written on your topic.
So, don’t just file those research materials away. Mine the footnotes for a short cut to more sources!
Would you like some free research assistance? Someone who can get you off to a good start on a project, saving you valuable time? Come talk to a reference librarian at Whittemore Library!
Use the expertise of the FSU reference librarians to power your research project. Each reference staff member has a master’s degree in library science. So, each librarian has actually completed graduate studies on how best to conduct research – locate the best books, select the relevant databases, track down reports, and more! Some reference librarians also have additional master’s degrees in various subjects, including art history and law. Wow.
Plus, every day, the reference librarians work with the FSU online and print resources. Think of your reference staff as GPS for your research project. Get to the best sources faster. Reference is like the Waze or Google Maps of Whittemore.
How much does it cost an FSU student to sit down and talk to one of these expert researchers? Absolutely nothing. That’s right – nada, zip, rien.
What are you waiting for? Would you rather go it alone, and try to figure out the vast resources waiting for you? Or are you going to contact the reference staff? Thought so – you are smart!
When starting a research project, even librarians take a look at Google or even Wikipedia. You may be thinking that your professor or friendly librarians always advise you NEVER to rely on these somewhat dubious sources. You would never, ever cite this type of source in your paper, but they can be useful tools. But how?, you may wonder. When you are new to a topic, often the case when you start a research project, you may be unfamiliar with the area of academic inquiry. Use these “quick and dirty” tools to familiarize yourself with the basic background on a topic. What are the important concepts? Key dates? Major academic players? Get yourself up to speed.
Say, for example, you heard recently that early exposure to peanuts may impact peanut allergies in children. This might be a great topic for your food science paper. But you are fuzzy on the details – was it a study? Recent or older? Was it just babies or older kids as well? If you visit Google, and search for, “peanut allergies research exposure”, you can read through some quick information on the topic from sources like recent news stories, National Institutes of Health panel announcement, medical websites, and more. From there, you can determine if this is a topic which you would like to pursue, and collect basic information on any studies, time frame when the studies were published, names of researchers in the field, etc. Now, with those basics in your grasp, you can move on to reliable scholarly resources. Your research is off to a good start.
Remember to keep Internet searching in your toolbox when starting a research paper. While these web-based searches should not be your main research tactic, nor should they appear in your bibliography, they can help you educate yourself on a topic.
Black History month asks us to remember some of the most influential members of our history. Some of these people are closer to our school than you may think. Mary Elizabeth Miles was the first African-American woman to enter and graduate from Framingham Normal School when it resided in Lexington, MA in the early 1840s. She was born in Rhode Island around 1820 to free parents in the Quaker community. Miles was educated at Prudence Crandall’s Female Academy by Crandall herself, a white abolitionist who was the first to teach exclusively black children. By the time Miles was a young adult she had proven herself capable enough for Rev. Samuel J. May and Horace Mann to petition the school committee to allow her access to higher education.
Miles entered the school on May 26th, 1842 as a twenty-two year old woman and graduated in April of 1843. Back then, an Education major had requirements that could be achieved in one or two years, a fact that shocks many present day Education students. The 1861 school catalogue states that students were only required to attend three consecutive terms (roughly a year and a half) to complete their courses of study in Reading, Spelling, Writing, Defining, Grammar, Geography, and Arithmetic. Miles already had some teaching experience working in public schools before she entered the Normal School giving her an edge in her studies.
After her graduation in 1843 she began her teaching career. She moved from Boston to Albany to Cincinnati before meeting her future husband Henry Bibb, a fugitive slave from Kentucky and ardent abolitionist. They formed a bond at an abolitionist convention in New York City in 1847 and married a year later in Ohio before moving back to Boston. They resided in the North until the federal government passed the Compromise of 1850 and the dreaded Fugitive Slave Act. Since Bibb himself was a fugitive slave and Miles’s family had been free for generations with little way to prove they were not slaves, the couple emigrated to Canada and lived in Sandwich.
Unfortunately, much of Miles’s career was overshadowed by her husband’s. He established Canada’s first black newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive, and continued the abolitionist movement while in Canada until his death in 1854. During his lecture tours, Bibb left the job of editing and publishing the paper to his wife making Mary Miles the first ever woman in Canadian history to publish a newspaper.
Meanwhile, Miles was doing more than her part in trying to promote education in the black community. She opened her first school in their home in 1851, the year that Canada segregated its public schools. Miles’s school was the first opened in Sandwich for black children. Attendance swelled she had no choice but to find a bigger space to accommodate all of her students. Unfortunately, the community was too impoverished to afford the meager six cents a week per student she was asking to be paid, and Miles was forced to close the school.
In a way, Miles’s story should make us present day Rams very proud because she continued her fight despite the odds against her. She opened a second school in 1852 in Windsor for both black and white children to attend with no prejudice about race. She also opened a third school later on in her life as well that promoted the same model.
At the same time that the Bibbs were running the newspaper and opening schools, they were also acting as the final stop on the Underground Railroad. They accepted American refugees into their home as a part of the Windsor Anti-Slavery Society and the Refugee Home Society. They worked to give the fugitive slaves enough of a foothold to survive and thrive in a new country.
Thanks to her dedication to education, Mary Elizabeth Miles forever changed the lives of the children she taught as well as the fugitive slaves she bravely sheltered. She was someone who sought to brighten the future by teaching new generations while trying to help fugitive slaves find a new life beyond the border. This is a woman who each Framingham State student should find strength in as well as an immense sense of the pride.
For more information on Mary Elizabeth Miles, check out the exhibit in the foyer of the Henry Whittemore Library.
2017 English Intern