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FYS Napoleon's Buttons (2020)

Sample Research Questions

WHAT? What are other terms for this topic? What do historians call it? PRIMARY SOURCES
WHEN? What is the timeline for your topic? When did it start/peak/stop? Artifacts from the time
WHO? Who are the key players in your topic? Countries, leaders, Kings, scientists, etc? Letters, newspapers, decrees, treaties
WHY? What was the motivation? Who benefited and why? Books (OLD!)
HOW? What were the mechanisms or events that made this happen?  

GROUP 1: Did a global search for fragrant molecules usher in the Age of Discovery?

GROUP 2: Did sugar usher in the Industrial Revolution?

GROUP 3: Did a huge increase in demand for cotton in Europe lead to a great expansion of slavery in America?

GROUP 4: Did the herbal traditions (“witchcraft”) of poor and elderly women produce our present-day range of pharmaceuticals?


GENERAL TOOLS                        TIPS
Credo Reference

Excellent resource for getting background information. It's the librarian's Wikipedia! Use this to get a general handle on the topic and get more key terms or subjects. 

Find the timeline for your research question. 

OneSearch (Google of the Library)

Search EVERYTHING and narrow your results by putting phrases in quotes (e.g. "spice trade" history)

You can HOP from OneSearch to searching Google Scholar  with the same terms (see External Search)

JSTOR JSTOR is an archive of scholarly journal articles and eBooks from a wide variety of disciplines (from the sciences to the humanities to the arts), with journal coverage dating back to the 1800s. The most recent two to five years of a journal may not be included, however.


If your topic has a medical application search [molecule name] applications (choose advanced search and do a TITLE search for better results)

OR put phrases in quotes so they appear together in the results "phenol derivatives"


America's Historical Newspapers    1620-1920 For primary sources (interviews, historical newspapers)


OF MOLECULE                           

Google Scholar Put phrases in quotes "age of discovery"