Researching Racial Injustice

two old shade images next to a modern one of someone behind a laptop

How To Do Research

1. Determine what your question is. Grab a piece of paper and start writing down key words or ideas that come to your mind on each topic. Consider your personal experiences with or knowledge of the subject. In this phase, ideas are not good or bad, instead, they are tools to help you get to the question you want to answer. You'll review them once you're done, then select one to begin researching. 

2. Identify sources that you can use. Once you've selected your topic or topics, think of where you could find information related to that topic. We have some listed on the right, and the Alachua County Community Remembrance project has  media and documents online to get you started. Databases, books, eBooks, websites, magazines, newspapers, oral histories, images, government documents, data, and survey results can all be sources for research. If you're not able to find any sources of information for your choice, ask for help! Librarians are here to answer your questions. Don't be afraid to change your topic at this stage of research.

3. Search for information. In the digital age, we know that it is easy to search for information. What is difficult is finding the right information. We suggest sticking with library resources and talking to a librarian first, but, if you have to use Google, make sure you add ".org" or ".edu" to the end of your search words to prioritize the most reliable information. Google Scholar is also a reliable alternative for information seeking. Be specific in your searches and keep a log of the different key words that you use and whether you got any results. During this stage, you will likely find a lot of information and not have much time to read them. Download a free resource management tool, like Zotero, and install the plug-in to your favorite internet browser to save pages and documents easily. If you're having a difficult time finding information, ask for help or consider going back to steps one or two. 

4. Evaluate information. Most information has bias, even a historic government document must have its context reviewed. You can tell when something is too biased if it feels too emotional, does not address any counter arguments, is over simplified, or if the word choice is very extreme. Ask yourself the "who, what, when, where, and why" questions about the document and its origins. Then, evaluate how well it relates to your topic, theme, or event. If you're having difficulty finding trustworthy information, go back to steps two and three to find more information. Ask for help if you're unsure. For more tips on evaluating sources, read our blog.

5. Use information. Once you have all the research done, it is time to use the information to write your essay. This is a good time to look back at your notes and reread your topic, theme, or event and decide how you want to answer the question in 800-1000 words, "Based on the theme or topic and historical event you selected, how does the history of racial injustice help to explain present-day injustice in our society? How can this history be overcome in order to change the challenges our nation is facing today?" 

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