What is historical research? Historical research is a systematic way of finding past events, people, meaning, events, and how the past shapes the present. People refer to historical research as historiography.

Historical researches depend on different materials as a source of information. The sources may be primary or secondary.

The primary sources of information include the following:

  • Documented and undocumented testimonies
    The documented testimonial may be present in public records such as meeting minutes, legal documents, corporate records, diaries, and journals found in the local library, local historical society, university archives, etc.
  • Secondary sources of information
    This type of information source can be either written or oral. These include the following: Reported accounts of past events that may be in books, newspapers, journals, biography including other media such as tape recording and film tape.

Steps in historical research writing

There several different but related steps for historical research writing. They include the following;

  • Identification of the idea, topic, or the research question

The first step in historical research writing is the identification of the idea. At this stage, the writer brainstorms to find a suitable topic to research. A good reach idea should come from the writer’s areas of interest. The reach topic should clear, researchable, and with enough information. The research writer should also have enough information on the subject.

  • Reviewing the background literature

At this stage of historical research, the researcher reviews available background information about the topic. There is already existing information about your case. As a researcher, you should read and compile what already exists about your topic. The stage is crucial to both the reader and the researcher. It enables them to build their foundation of knowledge on the subject selected.

  • Refining the research questions and idea

Your research idea may be broad. You need to narrow it down and make it more specific. You can have the statement into three to six objectives depending on your historical research and formulate your specific questions that guide your research.

  • Determine the methodology of your historical research

You need to method to follow when carrying out your research. You will need to determine how you will collect information and the number of people you will interview if you will use it as an information source.

  • Identification and location of both the primary and secondary source of information

Your historical research may need either primary or secondary or both sources of information. You should explain where and how you will get your information sources and materials.

  • Evaluation of the authenticity and accuracy of the data collection

Your materials for the collection of data should give adequate and accurate information. As a historical researcher, you may need to test your data collection materials at this stage to ensure that they can collect enough and precise information from the source. The information should be reliably replicable in case of a repeat study.

  • Data analysis and narration and discussion of the findings

After the collection of data, you must carry out an analysis. Compute your data into percentages, mean, mode, among other analytical methods. Study trends and behavior of data variables understudy to make meaningful statements out of your analysis. Summarize your findings in tables and charts for straightforward interpretation.


After getting all the necessary steps you need in carrying out historical research, you can find a topic and write it with ease. Historical research writing is systematic; you must follow each step to be successful in writing.