Processes of study in the arts and humanities
Processes of study in the arts and humanities

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Processes of study in the arts and humanities

8.4 Carrying out research

During this stage you get down to the business of analysing and interpreting the meanings of all your primary and secondary source material (documents, reports, newspaper accounts, books and articles), in the ways outlined in the previous sections of this course. As you do so you will be making notes towards your project report. In this connection, it is very important to write down full references for all the material you use as you read each item. Then you can easily find particular parts of it again when you need to. And if you do that, you will also be building up your bibliography as you go along. A bibliography is a list of all the sources you refer to in your work which you attach to the end of your report, compiled in alphabetical order of authors’ surnames. It is much better to build this list up gradually rather than leaving yourself with a lot of fiddly work to do at the end.

Presenting references in a bibliography

When you make a reference to a book you note: author, date of publication, title, place of publication, publisher – and any other relevant information, such as the edition, the volume number, and page references for any quotations you make. It looks like this:

Potter, J. (1990) Independent Television in Britain; Volume 4, Companies and Programmes, 1968–1980, London, Macmillan.

A reference for a chapter in an edited book is made as follows:

Sparks, C. (1994) ‘Independent production’, in S. Hood (ed.) Behind the Screens: The Structure of British Broadcasting in the 1990s, London, Lawrence and Wishart, pp. 133–54.

And you enter an article in a journal in this way:

Kandiah, M. D. (1995) ‘Television enters British politics: the Conservative Party's Central Office and political broadcasting, 1945–55’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol. 15, no. 2, June, pp. 265–84.

There are variations in ways of referencing and you may be advised to follow a slightly different convention. But, however you do it, you should always provide as much information as you can.

Whatever style of referencing you use, what matters is that you always make the references in the same way throughout. You should also keep your references together in one place as you work (on cards, loose leaf or in a note-book) so that you don't lose anything. You have to keep your source material and notes well organised too, or you will waste a lot of precious time hunting around for things.

Towards the end of this research phase you should be starting to make an outline plan for your project report and even to draft sections of it as they begin to take shape in your mind. And, as the deadline for this stage approaches, you will simply have to call a halt to your investigations. Whatever your topic, there is always more material than you can handle in the time available. You must be ruthless about keeping to your schedule.


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