One of the first steps in any research project is compiling the “bibliography.” This is a list of publications that have information and sometimes opinions related to a project, like this web site. You can consult these publications at the library to learn more about an interesting topic or to compare the ideas of different historians.
Not everything published is true or correct. Legends may be presented as fact. Information can be lost or hidden during times of war or competition. Some scholars think creatively and develop theories about aspects of the past for which we do not have much information. Other historians may then agree or disagree with these theories in other publications.
There are “primary sources,” which are documents like journals or letters that come directly from the time or place that is the focus of the research. Some books are written by a single author who looks at a specific subject in detail – these are “secondary sources.” Other publications bring together several chapters or essays written by different scholars on related subjects. For example, if historians gather to discuss the journeys of Captain Vancouver, they might put all their papers together in one book.
Part of the research process is considering what we want to believe. You can apply this same thinking to the Internet. Is everything we read true? What can we use to judge if something is a reliable source? Gathering and understanding information is a form of exploration in itself!