How do I choose a topic?

Please check out the “choosing a topic” page on this website, where we have included information on the steps to consider, History Fair’s checklist of what makes a good topic, and information about this year’s theme, “Leadership and Legacy.” The most important thing is to make sure your topic of something you, personally, are 100% passionate about.

How do I get sources for my topic?

First, make sure you have a library card. Then, go to your library’s website and search its catalog for sources that might be helpful. Oftentimes, your library will have several databases on its website, too. Once you have a clear enough idea of at least one or two sources you think are available for you, take a trip to the library. Check out the shelves on which your sources are located, as there will likely be many more that you didn’t see online. Make sure you ask a librarian for help, since s/he will know much more about the library’s resources.

Here are some other places to look for information on your topic:

Newspaper archives. The CPL website has free access to archives of the Chicago Tribune and other Chicago-based newspapers.

The Chicago History Museum. It has a wealth of Chicago-oriented archives.

The Internet. This may seem obvious, but make sure you’ve done Google searching on your topic and the key words it relates to. For instance, if your topic is Jane Addams, your key words might be: labor, Progressive Movement, women’s right, urban poverty, Hull House, Chicago.

What are my options for presenting my research?

Please look at “The Finished Product” tab of this website. It will give you the options, as well as all of the manuals, rules, and judging checklists for each presentation method.

How do I write a bibliography?

Please look at the “Bibliography” page of this website. It will show you what an annotated bibliography looks like.

What formatting guidelines do I use for my written work?

History Fair accepts either the Turabian (Chicago Manual of Style) or MLA bibliographic style although Turabian is preferred by historians.  There are a number of online services that will do the formatting–keep in mind, they only work if the correct information has been noted at the point in which it was used!  Take note cards every time research is done so that the information can be immediately noted.

What is plagiarism and how do I avoid it?

Plagiarism, the use of other peoples’ work without credit, is an activity that History Fair students should avoid at all costs. It is a form a cheating that can result in a failing grade in a class or disqualification of a History Fair project. Sometimes plagiarism occurs because people just do not know better or engage in sloppy note-taking.

To learn more about what History Fair considers plagiarism, please look at the website’s page on it.


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