Meaning, characteristics and Importance of Historical Research 

Historical research is a qualitative research method that involves the process of studying the meaning of past events with an aim to interpret the facts and explain the cause of events, and their effect in the present events. The researcher collects and evaluates data to understand reports or observations made by others and tests the hypotheses related causes, effects or trends that can help in explaining present events and anticipating future events.

Meaning of Historical Research:

1. Berg & Lure, 2012, p. 305: Historical research or historiography attempts to systematically recapture the complex nuances, the people,meanings,events,and even ideas of the past that have influenced and shaped the present.

2. Wikipedia: Historical method is the collection of techniques and guidelines that historians use to research and write histories of the past. Secondary sources, primary sources and material evidence such as that derived from archaeology may all be drawn on, and the historian’s skill lies in identifying these sources, evaluating their relative authority, and combining their testimony appropriately in order to construct an accurate and reliable picture of past events and environments.

3. Deakin University: Historical research is the process of describing and examining past events to better understand the present and to anticipate potential effects on the future.

4. Anil Kumar Prasanna: Historical methods of research are the process of systematically examining an account of what has happened in the past.

5. Ferrarotti, F. (1997): Historical research data is subject to external criticism (verification of genuineness or validity of the source) and internal criticism (exploring the meaning of the source). Historical research has time and place dimensions. Simple chronology is not considered historical research because it does not interpret the meaning of events.

6. Kevin Newton: Historical research involves looking at the past and what has been recorded, determining its credibility or accuracy and drawing from it for modern conclusions. Learn more about the definitions, methodologies, and the steps to conducting it.

7. Gay, 1981, p. 432: Historical research is the systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past occurrences in order to test hypotheses concerning causes, effects, or trends of those events which may help to explain present events and anticipate future events.

8. Goldhor, 1972, p.98: True historical research, or historiography, is concerned with analysing and interpreting the meanings of historical events. It is the process by which a researcher is able to reach a conclusion as to the probable truth of an event in the past by studying objects available for observation in the present.

9. Isaac and Michael, 1981, p.44: Historical research involves reconstructing “the past systematically and objectively by collecting, evaluating, verifying, and synthesising evidence to establish facts and reach defensible conclusions, often in relation to particular hypotheses. 

10. Johnson: Historical research is the process of systematically examining past events to give an account of what has happened in the past.

Characteristics is Historical Research 

1. It deals with the past in relation to the present and the future.

2. In the light of the past, it aims to reform the present and the future.

3. In the historical method of research, there is no choice of sampling. 

4. In this type of research, there is little scope of verification of the result. 

5. The types and quality of data available determines the success of the research.

6. It aims to delve into the critical search of truth.

7. It is not just an accumulation of facts and data but a vibrant and flowing report of past events. 

8. It uses logical induction and is analytical. 

Importance of Historical Research 

1. It offers an accurate and important context for understanding contemporary society.

2. It provides a clear understanding of the impact of the past on the present & future events related to the life process.

3. It can encourage leaders to make informed decisions that impact society, culture, and the economy.

4. It can provide information on global concepts, such as foreign policy development or international relations.

5. It provides a detailed analysis of what has been written or done & is used to describe, explain or interpret these events.

Johnson states about historical rewatch that, “It is a flowing, dynamic account of past events, which involves an interpretation of these events in an attempt to recapture the nuances, personalities, and ideas that influenced these events.”