The Major Problems of Historical Research

Powerful Essays
The Major Problems of Historical Research

By

Adeyemi Balogun Sharapha

In the conduct of historical research, the research student faces many problems which include choice of topic, funding, language barriers, source problems to mention but a few.

The first problem which a historical researcher might face is that of choosing topic. It is a common phenomenon especially for a young researcher to jump at an attractive topic without knowing the rigors involved in researching the topic. For example, he may, not have identify the gap(s) to fill in terms of contribution to knowledge. Getting the needed materials to sustain the topic may become difficult; hence he may have to shift to entirely new area or rephrased the topic. While the researcher is battling with this, the problem of time constraint set in. a young researcher also has the tendency to choose a topic that is too contemporary. Some history schools or supervisor may reject such topic especially when they considered the topic to be too recent. Some schools will prefer a period of 30 to 50 years with the believe that many document would have been declassified.1Above all, a researcher needs to check for topic that will not exhaust him financially because funding which is discussed below is another major problem.

Funding affects research at every stage. A researcher needs to cover transportation cost to and from the venue(s) of research for data collection.2 often times, a researcher may have to travel even to another country in search of materials and this for him may amount to huge cost.

1. Lanre Davies, ‘The Problems of Historical Research,’in Issues in Historiography, ed. Olubomehin O. (Ibadan: College Press and Publisher Ltd.2001). pg. 86

2. Ibid 81

Money is needed for feeding, accommodation, photocopy of needed materials and documents, and typing out of drafts of essay written by him3. It should be noted that some informant to be interviewed may refuse to

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