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The Power of One: Strategy

This Libguide will help you research South Africa and the topics mentioned in The Power of One.

Possible Topics

South African Boarding Schools (English and/or Afrikaans)

Zululand

Dutch Reformed Church

Anglican Church in South Africa

Zulu Warrior Culture

Zulu Leadership (Shaka, Dingaan)

Afrikaans language

Voortrekkers

South Africa’s role in World War II

Rise of National Socialism in South Africa

The Transvaal Region

South African Railways

South African Rugby (Springboks)

South African Football/Soccer (Bafana Bafana)

South African Cricket

South African Boxing

South African Mining (Coal, Chromium, Zinc, Gold, Antimony)

Mining in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (Diamonds/Copper/Gold)

Irish Diaspora in South Africa

Indian Diaspora in South Africa

First Anglo-Boer War (1880-81)

Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)

Anglo-Zulu War

Afrikaner Cuisine

Afrikaner Music

Boer Republic

Cape Colony

Dutch Slave Trade

Union of South Africa

South African Christian Evangelism (Apostolic Christianity/”born-again Christians”)

South African Internment/Concentration Camps

Zulu/Xhosa/Tsonga Music

Tribal relationships in South Africa

Establishment of the South African Republic

The four racial classifications of apartheid

The rise of apartheid – Nationalist Party

The economic advantages and disadvantages of apartheid

The social advantages and disadvantages of apartheid

The political advantages and disadvantages of apartheid

Pass Laws

The Bantu educational system

Bantustan (the “homelands system”)

The African National Congress

The construction of townships

Jews in South Africa

South African Labor Unions

Biodiversity of the Eastern Transvaal

Developing a Strategy


Before you begin your research, it's a good idea to develop a plan. Sometimes it is tempting to just dive in, but it is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information. Follow these search strategy tips to keep you on track and use your time wisely.

Read the Assignment

I know this seems obvious, but it really is important. Highlight or underline parts of the assignment that you think you may have difficulty with or forget. There is nothing worse than thinking you are almost finished and realizing you didn't meet half the assignment's criteria. Ask questions if you are confused. Now is the time to clear up confusion, not the night before the due date.  Consider:

  • What are you expected to know?
  • Are there specific questions you must answer?
  • Do you need to use certain types of resources?
  • How are you expected to show what you learned?

Get an Overview

Once you have a topic, consider "what do I know" and "what do I want to know." As you begin, you may not know much. That's why it is a great idea to start with an overview. It may be tempting to start by checking out the 500 page long book on your topic, but let's be honest: Are you really going to read the whole thing cover to cover? Instead, use this libguide to look for general information in:

  • Reference books and websites
  • General books and online information on South Africa
  • General books online information in your subject area (i.e. music, religion, sports, etc.)

As you do this, pay attention to:

  • Alternate spellings of your term
  • Synonyms for your topic
  • The vocabulary used
  • If you don't know a word, look it up!

These steps will help you in your future searches and comprehension.

Brainstorm Keywords

Google is great, but sometimes searching requires more planning and revision. Before searching come up with some keywords. Consider:

  • The topic
  • Alternate spellings
  • Synonyms for the topic
  • Broader subjects for the topic (There may be more than one: i.e. broader subject areas for Economic Disadvantages of Aprtheid include "economics," "South Africa" and "apartheid.")
  • Narrower topic areas mentioned in your overview

Start Searching

As you search resources such as databases, volume indexes and the Internet, try using combinations of these keywords and see how it changes your search results.

  • Don't get married to one term (as another may be used in the controlled language of a particular website or database)
  • Try using the Boolean searches (find out how in the database tab)
  • Go into Advanced Searching when you can
  • Play with it! Imagine you are on an information scavenger hunt.

Read and Evaluate

OK, you found some great sources. Now take the time to see what you have found. Read the sources, take notes and begin to notice themes.

If you are using sources that you have found on your own (i.e. not on JSTOR, AVL, the books and websites suggested in the libguide, etc.) you will need to evaluate them. Detailed evaluation recommendations are found on the websites tab, but consider the source's:

  • Authority
  • Currency
  • Objectivity
  • Coverage
  • Accuracy

And a question to always ask is: Is this going to help me? You may have found a great article on the current state of music in South Africa, but if your project is on the First Anglo-Boer War, you are probably going to have to set it aside.

Organize

At this point you should know enough to formulate a thesis statement. Thesis statements are opinions that are supported by your research. One way to create a thesis statement is to think of it to the answer to a question. For example, if your assignment is

"Why is Florida a good place to vacation?,"

a thesis statement might be

"Florida is a good place to vacation because the weather is nice, there is a lot to do, and it is reasonably priced."

Take those themes and begin constructing an outline. If you are using Noodletools, you can even drag and drop your note cards under appropriate outline points. So for our pretend thesis, your research would show the following main points supported by your notes:

    A. The climate of Florida
    B. The many activities available in Florida
    C. The comparative cost of travel, lodging, food and fun in Florida 

Look for More

Look at your work so far. What's missing? Is there a particular point that seems weak and needs more supporting information? Now is the time to do more searching, reading and evaluating.

Once you are happy with your information, it is time to sit down and write!