I’ve always liked to read books and organize things, I guess you could say I was born to be a librarian, but maybe I’m just a glorified pack rat!
I’ve had a job at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University for ten years. I worked at Hoover part time while I was at San Jose State University, studying history for my bachelor’s degree and continued working while I earned my master’s degree in library and information science (also at SJSU). Since I started working full time, I’ve been fortunate to experience life in a research library from almost every angle. I create museum exhibits, write articles, lead tours, blog, make presentations on topics in 20th Century history and teach research strategies to all types of students, professionals and local groups. My current focus is answering research questions by email, phone and in person, as well as organizing and describing newly-acquired collections of materials. I’m passionate about World War II history so I can’t imagine a better place to be!
Since I get so much satisfaction from helping people as part of my work, I decided to start ResearchTeacher.com to reach an even broader audience. I’ve always wondered why research gets so little attention in school. Beyond the occasional teacher who recognizes its importance or a friendly librarian, most students have to figure out how to research on their own and the skills they learn are often incomplete. I think basic research skills are crucial to academic success. Many people make do without basic research knowledge, but why should we waste our efforts struggling to find information? When we know where to look, research shouldn’t be a big challenge. We should focus on how we use the knowledge that we discover, rather than spend our time searching. To be a good researcher you have to do three things:
1. Ask the right questions
2. Find the best sources
3. Use those sources well
It’s my humble hope that ResearchTeacher.com will help you to become a better researcher. A personal goal of mine is to become a better writer, so I decided that writing a regular blog would be the best way to sharpen my skills. I want this site to be valuable, entertaining and ultimately inspiring. Maybe a forum for PhD students would be a good resource? Perhaps a tutorial on family history research? I’m open to any thoughts and suggestions.
Research is just a means to an end, a tool for accomplishing our goals. Some of my goals include earning a PhD in history, writing a book and a screenplay (5 pages so far!).
What are some of your goals? What do you need to research to achieve them?
Research Teacher is focused on helping you learn how to research. Whether you’re a graduate, undergrad or high school student, an amateur historian, genealogist or anyone else looking for information, you’ll learn something new here.
My name is Nick, and I’m a professional librarian and archivist. I work at a research library at Stanford University and I’m passionate about helping people find the information that they need to reach their goals. I created ResearchTeacher.com to challenge myself to be a better researcher, writer and ultimately to help you.
It took me many years to learn the research skills that have helped me become successful professionally, academically and personally. I realized that most of us aren’t taught how to research, whether it’s online, in a library or archive. We’ve learned most of what we know through experience, trial and error. I think research is frustrating sometimes because we don’t know where to start.
I’ve decided to share my knowledge so that you can learn to enjoy research, find the information that you’re looking for and get on with pursuing your dreams, whether you’re trying to earn a PhD or write your family history. I’ll answer questions like: How should I approach PhD research? How can I start a family history archive? What’s the best way to read a book?
Here are three tips to improve your research skills right off the bat:
1. Ask the right questions. Maybe the topic you’ve selected is too broad and you don’t know where to start looking. Perhaps your question is so narrow that you can’t see the forest from the trees. Make sure that you have a specific target in mind, write down exactly what you are looking for in the form of a question and then start your search.
2. Take great notes. The act of writing imprints information more firmly in our memories, so experiment with jotting down information even if you don’t plan to go back to your notes often. I prefer to write down my notes on paper, but you can type them on your computer if it’s more comfortable for you. You might end up typing notes when you are researching online and writing them out when you are reading a book or looking at documents.
3. Set limits. For some questions finding the answer will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Stay focused on your main question and don’t sweat the details if they aren’t crucial. Asess your progress after specific intervals and decide if your time is well spent.
Come Join In
The most rewarding questions for me to answer will be the ones you submit. Please leave a comment or send me a message. Tell me how you’d like to see this site grow. Your questions, knowledge and insights will be the true reward. Sign up for my newsletter for even more great information. Thanks for reading and lets get going with our research!