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Planning a Research Trip: Home

This guide offers tips on planning an out-of-town research trip.

About This Guide

Primary research material abounds in archives, libraries and other institutions all over the world.  Because such material is generally irreplaceable, few institutions will loan their collections so researchers must be prepared to travel to the sources essential to their projects.  This guide is intended to offer suggestions on planning a research trip to an archives or primary resource repository.

For more information on finding primary sources, please see the Primary Sources guide.

The Big Three

Research trips may require a significant amount of time and resources.  Keep the following points in mind when planning your trip.

Plan Ahead

Plan your visit in advance but have a backup plan in case things go wrong.  Bad weather or a natural disaster may cause a facility to close during your visit.  Or you may discover another repository in the area which has additional resources.   Plan to visit multiple repositories in the area to maximize your visit and provide alternates in case one facilty is unavailable for research.

Schedule Enough Time

Be sure to schedule enough time to review the collections in the area where you are visiting.  If collections are owned by multiple repositories in the area, you'll need to split your time between various locations.  See Preliminary Planning for tips on how to plan your time.

Take Good Notes

Keep track of resources you use in case you need to cite them.  For large collections, it may be impossible for staff to locate a specific letter or article later. 

For printed material, note the collection name, author, and title.

For manuscript collections, note the collection name, box number, and file number.

For archives, note the record group number, box, and file number or label.

Public Services Archivist

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Teresa Gray
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Special Collections & University Archives