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HPS 319 Research: History of Medicine II: 17th–20th Century

This guide is intended to assist students in Prof. Lucia Dacome's HPS 319 course.

Putting Pieces Together

  • you may not find sources of information on the exact combination of ideas, perspectives, and/or topics you are researching
  • you may have to research the ideas within your argument separately: reference sources are a good place to start 
  • you may have to adjust or realign your argument as your research progresses

Sample Topic

Sample Broad Topic: Medicine and Society

         How did societies cope with epidemic diseases such as Cholera?

You will often need to narrow down your subject by picking parameters and asking critical questions: 

     Where? in what geographical area?
          Toronto, Canada

     When? what time period ?
          1800-1900 (esp. 1832, 1834, 1892)

     Who? Which population(s)?
          immigrants to Toronto

     What? what aspects of Cholera in society?
          political and/or sociological results...
               ...of the prevention and treatment measures.....
taken by the province and/or municipality
                         ...for the sake of
public health

It is also useful to ask How scholars in the field approach this topic:

     How? do scholars write about this topic? what is their approach? how is this topic covered in the literature? 

          Where does your voice/argument fit within these discussions?

Narrowing your Topic

Still lots of questions to answer:

          Which results exactly? attitudes towards immigrants

          Which measures exactly? municipal by-laws regarding sanitation

Your argument or assertion will develop as you conduct your research:

          Improved prevention and treatment measures for Cholera, by the municipal government, for the sake of public health, in Toronto in 1834 resulted in fewer mortality rates than in 1832.

                    What effects, if any, did these measures have on immigrants to Toronto?

                           For example, did it increase/decrease racism, stigmatization and/or isolation?