10311 historical research design historical research

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10.3.11 Historical Research Design Historical research involves systematic collection and evaluation of data to understand, describe and explain the past events. It embraces the entire range of human activities, moving backwards, using clues and attempts to construct the scene of the past in the form of an integrated narrative. Aspects of the past are studied by perusing documents of the period, by examining relics or by interviewing individuals who lived during those times. An attempt is then 114
made to reconstruct what happened that time as completely and as accurately as possible so as to arrive at conclusions concerning causes, effects, trends of past occurrences which may help explain present events and predict future events. Even though historical research is not common as other research designs, there are some concepts that are better understood in terms of past experiences. An example of a topic suitable for historical research may be factors leading to the development and growth of individual institution. The purpose of historical research is to make people aware of what happened in the past so that they may learn from past failures and successes and to learn how things were done in the past to see if they may be applicable to present day problems and concerns. It is very useful as an aid to prediction. If an idea has been tried before even in different circumstances, the past results may offer insights about how the present result may turn out. It helps people to understand the present from the past. Historical Research Process There are four essential steps involved in historical research: a) Defining the problem A historical research problem is identified in the same way as other research problems. The only difficulty here is that most of the time a problem may be selected for which sufficient data is not available. This is especially true the further back the past the investigator may look. b) Locating the source Once the problem has been identified, the search for sources begins. There are four main sources of historical data: 1. Documents – this are written or printed in whatever form. They refer to every kind of information that exists in some type of written or printed form. 2. Numerical records – these may sometimes be considered as aspects of documents they are numeric data in printed form. 3. Oral statements – are obtained through oral interviews of the people who witnessed or were part of the events. 4. Relics – these are forms of visual characteristics or physical objects whose form provide information about the past such as furniture, clothing and pottery. Note: This design does not gather data by administering instruments to individuals. They seek out information from data which is already available. The sources of data are classified as primary and secondary.

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