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Research Guides

Research Assignment Steps

Keep in mind while you do your research that:

  1. Some topics are easier to research than others 
  2. There may not be many or a wide array of primary sources for some topics
  3. Research is a process of trial and error, you will likely run into some dead ends
  4. The best sources are not necessarily the first sources you'll find
  5. Your secondary sources will cite additional primary sources that you can then track down




  • 1. Choose a topic
  • Keep in mind your topic may change as you research -- you may end up narrowing or changing your focus. For this research example my topic is the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) and student radicalism in the late 1960s.
  • 2. Find quick background info: dates, important people, events, organizations & topical terms. Use some of the sources listed under Quick Background Sources as well as wikipedia.
  • I search Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History for quick information on the organization. I find an entry for the group and  discover that it was formed at UC Berkeley in 1968 by Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee. AAPA published a newsletter (first issued in Nov/Dec. 1968 -- maybe I can track this down. It would be a great primary source!).  Major concerns of the group: US militarism & ethnic studies. Other terms gleaned from the encyclopedia entry: Third World Strikes at San Francisco State CollegeYellow Identity, I Wor Kuen, Amerasia Journal.


  • 3.  Track down any articles and books listed in the bibliography of the encyclopedia entry
  • The references at the end of the encyclopedia entry includes one to an article, Umemoto, Karen. 1989. “‘On Strike!’ San Francisco State College Strike, 1968–69: The Role of Asian American Students.” Amerasia Journal 15: 3–41.  I cut & paste the article title into UW Libraries Search and find we have Amerasia Journal online!
  • If you don't find the article, try searching for the journal name.



  • 4. Now I want to see if I can find other secondary sources. I'm going to start off by searching for scholarly articles.
  • I start searching America History & Life for articles dealing with the Asian American Political Alliance. I find a couple of articles including one by Yuji Ichioka published in  early issue of Amerasia Journal -- this actually would be a primary source since it is written by one of the AAPA founders.
  • I also search for articles on the SFSC strikes and find more. I use quotes for phrases and the asterisk (*) after strike to search for variant word endings: strike, striker, strikes, etc.



  • 5. For newspaper articles search some of those listed under Primary Sources: News & Magazines. Keep in mind that not every topic will necessarily be covered by a newspaper. Newspapers inherently focus on events more than issues. So perhaps useful for Third World Strikes not so great perhaps for the general issue of Asian American student activism.
  • Since I need sources that cover California in the late 1960s I  begin with the one digitized California newspaper we have, the LA Times. My initial search in the Los Angeles Times for: "asian american political alliance" found nothing so I decided to search instead for articles on the SF State College Strike. 
  • I will also want to use the microfilmed version of the San Francisco Chronicle. And found out the the AAPA publication is the AAPA Newspaper and that Evergreen has it. I'll see if I can request the microfilm via Summit.
  • I'm also going to check Independent Voicesa collection of alternative news since the Berkeley Barb is included.
  • Since I'm working on a late 1960s issue I will need to use Readers' Guide Retrospective to identify articles published in magazines such as Time & Newsweek. Since it is a somewhat clunky database I will want to keep my searches simple and limit my to articles published in 1968-1969.

  • 7. I may now want to dig even deeper, beyond published primary sources and see if I can find oral histories, manuscripts, photographs & other material.
  • I notice that the class research guide says to check the primary source pages of the Asian American history research guide for additional sources. And on that guide I find a link to SF State College Strike Collection where I find many more primary sources.