Archival research is the act of using primary or secondary sources in an archive to conduct primary research. In an archive, one can find more than just books; newspaper clippings, posters, clothing and many other primary sources are available to utilize. This kind of research is beneficial because it allows one to get up and close with actual artifacts as opposed to viewing them through a secondary source.
Another important element of research is questions. Questioning one’s sources is essential as it allows for the research to assess the credibility of their sources. It also allows someone to find how their sources fit into their overall project. The questions who, what, when, and where–though they are basic questions–are great ways to do this.
It is important to know from whom the source came in order to assess the credibility. If the artifact or information did come from a creditable source the legitimacy of the research decreases.
Assessing the time in which sources originate can help also help one determine how it fits into their research. For example, the time period for my final project is from 1987 to 1994. If I were to find a source from 2010, I can automatically eliminate it from a list of potential source as it is almost 20 years out of my timeline.
The last question that benefits ones research is asking where something originates. Just as the time period can eliminate the source, the place in which it was made or is about can do so. In addition to looking sat 1987 to 1994, I am focusing on a certain city–Stony Brook, New York. If I were to find a source that is related to my topic, but originates in, for example, San Francisco, I can eliminate it as it does not accurately represent the population I am looking at.
The final aspect to research is metadata. Metadata is important because it can help you make connections between artifacts by establishing the place, time or group of people attached to the artifacts. Metadata appeals to logos and is considered quantitative research.