This chapter tracks through some of the core methods used by human geographers. You can find links here to sites that help us in conducting archival research (see section 2, ‘Research with texts and archives’) and in completing projects that require large data sets (see section 4, ‘Research with numbers and maps’).
Archive research can be a something of a mystery (and headache) when you first start out. You might know your project has a historical focus and seeks to unpack something from the past. You imagine there must be documents (files, letters, memos, ledgers) or materials of some description (sound files, objects and so on) that would allow you to find answers to your question. But how do you find those documents and materials? The best way to begin is to consult an archive catalogue.
The link here provide access to Archon. This is a database that provides details of archives across the UK. It also provides links to archives around the world. In sum, it holds details of over 2000 archives! You can enter search terms to identify a relevant archive – or – if you are still stuck for topic ideas (see Chapter 3) you can browse the A–Z of UK archives by region as this might inspire a project (for example, the UK has archives ranging from the National Gas Archives (Warrington, holding records of energy extraction and supply); to the archive of the National Working Class Movement (held in Salford).
Like archives, projects that rely on secondary data can also be a mystery (and headache) when you first start out. You might know you want to conduct a statistical project that compares different regions, based on the criteria of health or education. You know there must be some large, existing datasets you can draw on. But how do you find those datasets? The best way to begin is to consult a data archive.
The link here provides access to the UK Data Service. This offers a specific catalogue for searching for existing datasets, as well as providing access to those datasets. The UK Data Service holds a range of UK surveys, cross-national surveys, longitudinal studies, Census datasets (to name but a few). In sum it holds over 6000 records! It also provides links to international datasets. Usefully, it also provides ‘topic guides’ which you can browse if you are short of inspiration for your topic.