Get Organized for Research
While this step might sound pretty straight forward there are some key considerations involved that will make each of the other steps much easier.
* Develop and maintain a positive attitude - Approaching your History Day project with a positive attitude and maintaining it will carry you through your project during those difficult times. It will also show in your work and when you are responding to your teacher's or History Day judge's questions about your project. A positive attitude might mean the difference between you or your classmate advancing to the National History Day contest.
* Discover "human resources" - Most of us know about library and online resources but what about "human resources"? These are school librarians, technology specialists, media specialists, your teacher, local historians, and many others. All you have to do is ask.
* Develop a paperwork management system - Decide how to organize your research before you actually begin looking for information. What works best for you? Folders, three-ring binders, accordion folders, etc. You might divide your information into information provided to you by your teacher or others and information that you collect during research. You may also consider separating primary and secondary source information.
* Decide about working as an individual or in a group - With the exception of the Historical Paper category, which only allows individual participation, you may choose to work in a group or as an individual in a National History Day category. Both have their pros and cons. Working in a group allows you to divide up work, discuss ideas, and be a source of motivation; it can also be more difficult if your group member(s) do not pull their weight, if they have conflicting schedules, or have difficulty sharing in the decision making. Working as an individual allows you to control the pace of work and make your own decisions regarding your History Day project.
* Choose the Right History Day category - History Day allows you to prestent your research in five ways: a Historical Paper; Historical Documentary; Historical Performance; Historical Exhibit; or Historical Website. To choose the right category you need to consider your strengths in writing, design, drama, art, technology, and other skills. If you are someone that does not like to be up in front of a crowd the Historical Performance category is probably not for your. You also need to do some background research to determine what kind of resources are available on your topic. Is there a lot of visual information available on your topic, e.g., photos, illustrations, and video clips? A large availability of visual information would guide you toward an exhibit, documentary, or website. If technology is not your strong suit then the exhibit category would probably be your best choice.