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World in the 20th Century Research LibGuide

Use Western Library databases for World History Class Resesrch

The Research Process


Research is a step-by-step process. In the early stages you will be looking for basic facts and  general information (names, places, dates, events etc.) about your topic. During the later stages you will dive in for a closer look. at one a key figure(s), event, cause, effect, etc. Y


In this course you will need to research (find information about) some of the following topics:

  • Major trends and events which established the balance of power and created new cultures at the beginning of the Twentieth
  • Causes, circumstances, and consequences of Western imperialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
  • Origins, events, and outcomes of The Great War, World War I.
  • Origins, events, and consequences of World War II
  • Cold War
  • Mid-century economic balance of power, the transformation of Japan and the Little Tigers, and the origins of the European Union
  • Post-World War II collapse of colonialism
  • Ferment in the Middle East
  • Africa in the age of independence
  • Gobal culture in the post-industrial age

ask questions

Your goal is to find research materials from the perspective of an objective observer. Observers ask questions like:

  • What does this mean? 
  • Why is this important?
  • How does this work in people's lives?
  • Does this make sense?

Overview of the Research Process

puzzle pieces icon



Research is a a process of exploration and discovery!


You are exploring bits and pieces of information about your chosen topic and discovering what they say about it. Your job as the author or author or creator is to pick and choose the information that help you put together the complete picture of what you want to convey about your topic. puzzle pieces icon


Tackle your research in 2 phases.

Phase 1 - background research. This is the information you will use in the introductory section of your paper or project. Assume your reader or audience knows nothing about your topic, and you need to give them the background or context to understand and appreciate your work. Background research is about exploring and discovering:

  • WHO - names of people, organizations, groups, sects, religions, cultures, governments, etc.
  • WHAT - concepts, ideas, events, doctrines, rituals, laws, etc.
  • WHEN - dates, timelines, time periods, years, decades, centuries, etc,
  • WHERE - place, buildings, towns, cities, countries, provinces, continents, etc.
  • WHY - reasons, causes, motivations, beliefs, etc.
  • HOW - framework, structure, plan, requirement, implementation, execution, etc.

Your goal is to take this information and use it to provide an overview of your topic for your reader or audience.

Phase 2 - focused research. In this phase you will focus in-depth in on a very specific aspect of your topic.  Example --  in your background research about World War II you learned about how propaganda was used to deliberately mislead people about war crimes, but also to prop up civilian and military morale.  Start again at Credo Reference, this time looking for more specific details about how propaganda was used by different governments. You may recognize parallels with "fake news" and current events decide to explore what psychological strategies are used in propaganda and why they are so effective.

Phase 2 research will be conducted using databases that provide more detailed information found in magazines and academic journals.

Taking Notes for Research

Doesn't taking notes just eat up a lot of time?

  • Yes, if you have a photographic memory and can remember everything you see, hear, and read.
  • No, note-taking is simply part of an active-reading process
    • note-taking helps you understand and remember information better

Think of your notes as kind of a "cheat sheet" or "cue cards" that you can revisit when you need to remember.

What's the best way of taking notes?

Messy notes image

  • no one right or wrong way
  • jot down names, dates, concepts
  • jot down you thoughts, ideas, or questions
    • be as messy as you want with your notes -- as long as they help you learn, it doesn't matter what they look like
  • write notes in your own words
    • use in rough draft or outline
    • helps you avoid plagiarism
  • add the name of the database, the title of the article or books, author's name, and publishing date
    • you'll need it later

If you'd like some strategies or tips about note-taking, check out the LibGuide linked below.

Taking Notes for Credo Reference Articles

The purpose of background research  is to learn more about a broader general topic and find a specific area of the topic to focus on for your research project. 

For example, you might decide to write about Buddhism. This is a HUGE topic! There's way too much information about Buddhism and all its aspects to cover in a 4-5 page paper. 

Credo Reference Search image

Credo Reference 2 article results image

Your goal at this stage is to skim for articles in the encyclopedia database, Credo Reference.  Skim the list of articles, and look at the titles, descriptions, Key Concept buttons to get a feel for what type of articles are available. You are trying to get a sense of what Buddhism is all about.

To do look for the:

  • WHO?  Jot down key people/leaders, related groups 
  • WHAT? Jot down ideas or concepts: history,goals, psychological manipulation strategies and techniques,
  • WHERE? Jot down key places - where was propaganda used in World War II
  • WHEN? Jot down key dates and timelines in history
  • WHY? Jot down purposes of the use of propaganda in World War II.
  • HOW? Jot down methods used to spread propaganda - posters, messaging, etc

Minda Map Credo Reference Propaganda image

A great feature of Credo Reference is the  Mind Map, which gives you a quick idea about the different aspects of proaganda/ The Mind Map is broken down into linkable subtopics. . Clicking on a subtopic brings up a list of articles related to the subtopic.  of anything that grabs your attention to bring up the full article. Skim the article, you can read it more in depth later. No single article will provide all the information you need. Look for a minimum of 3 articles you think will give you solid background knowledge about your topic, and help you to start to narrow you focus.

The World in the 20th Century

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The emergence of a global society in the dominant theme of the twentieth century. This course takes a chronological look at the history of important events and trends that led to the creation of global society by the end of the century. These themes include globalization, the growth of mass culture, technology, ideology/religion, and the varied responses of different cultures to the ideas and events that occurred during the twentieth century.

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