Independent research project Assignment

Independent research project
Independent research project

Independent research project

Independent research project that will culminate in a polished 7-8 page essay on a topic of your choosing. This includes a Preliminary Bibliography and Library Consultation (25 points), Research Proposal (50 points), Secondary Source Annotations (50), Primary Source Annotations (50), an Outline (25 points), a Draft (50 points) and the final essay (150 points).

One Research Project (totaling 400 points)
Throughout the semester, you will be working on an independent research project that will culminate in a polished 7-8 page essay on a topic of your choosing. This includes a Preliminary Bibliography and Library Consultation (25 points), Research Proposal (50 points), Secondary Source Annotations (50), Primary Source Annotations (50), an Outline (25 points), a Draft (50 points) and the final essay (150 points).

What Monica Wants:
I want a formal, academic paper that addresses all parts of the assignment/question. DO NOT treat this as a conversation between you and me. You need to write with a neutral and unknown audience in mind. DO NOT assume I have read the sources you are citing. It should be well written without multiple spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, etc. I expect that the following information will be read and adhered to. Use it as a checklist to avoid the usual downfalls.

Top Ten Dos and Don’ts
1. _____ DO Introduce the Author/Historical Figure using his/her full name, referring to them by their LAST name thereafter.
2. _____ DO Use italics for titles of books and journals. Article titles should be between quotation marks.
3. _____ DO Appropriately cite all quotations from texts. (Use appropriate Block Quote formatting)
4. _____ DO use signal phrases to introduce your sources/evidence. (i.e. According to…, or As_____ writes in his article_______…)
5. _____ DON’T deviate from your topic.
6. _____ DON’T let your paragraphs become too short or too long. (See MEAL plan)
7. _____ DON’T Start with “Since the beginning of time…”
8. _____ DON’T End your paragraphs with quotes. You need to provide context for them.
9. _____ DON’T Use “I” (ex. I think…)
10. _____ DON’T use colloquial phrases or slang. Use FORMAL ENGLISH.
Read it!! Read it!! Read it again!!

Should you do or not do any of the mistakes from the above list you will automatically lose points despite the other merits of your paper. I am NOT going to edit your paper. That is your responsibility. Multiple mistakes WILL affect your grade.

Part I: Research Proposal (50 points)
This project is your opportunity to learn more about a specific topic in history, and about the process of evaluating and comparing historical claims.
1. You should begin by selecting a broad topic that you will not mind (and maybe even enjoy) reading a lot about.
2. Next you will have to do a little preliminary reading to narrow your focus: read ahead in the course text, browse Wikipedia, watch a History channel documentary. These sources have their rightful place, and this is it; they can help you decide what aspect of your topic to zero in on.
3. Finally, since your end result is going to be a focused analysis of a specific historical problem, you will need to formulate a precise question that will guide your research.

Once you have decided on a central question, you will then have to pitch it to me. You will write a two-page research proposal that will not only give me an idea of where your project is headed, but should also help you clarify the purpose of your research. This proposal should be two double-spaced pages in length, no more or less. Use a standard, 12-point font like Times New Roman At the top of the first page, provide your name, the date, and your course and section number.

Your research proposal should include the following elements:
1) a descriptive title (for example, “Women and African Americans in 19th Century Social Reform Movements”);
2) an introduction that clearly states your central research question;
3) an explanation of how and why you decided to explore this particular topic;
Why is this question interesting or important to me? How might my paper on this specific question shed light on a larger topic or issue (e.g., political participation by marginalized groups)?
4) a tentative hypothesis of what you expect to find; and
5) a plan for how you will conduct your research.
How will I go about finding sources to answer my question?

Your research proposal should address these questions and establish a basic plan of attack. As you explore your topic further, you may want to refine or alter your initial research question on the basis of some new information you come across – that’s just fine. This proposal is not meant to limit or restrict your research, but to provide clarity and direction.

Part II: Research and Annotation Assignments
Preliminary Bibliography and Library Consultation (25 points)
Your paper must include the use of at least 3 primary and 3 secondary sources.
Primary Sources vs. Secondary Works
1. A primary source is a record left by a person (or group) who participated in or witnessed the events you are studying or who provided a contemporary expression of the ideas or values of the period under examination. Letters, autobiographies, diaries, government documents, minutes of meetings, newspapers, or books written about your topic at that time are examples; non-written sources include interviews, films, photos, recordings of music, and clothing, buildings, or tools from the period.
2. Secondary works are accounts written by people who were not themselves involved in the events or in the original expression of the ideas under study. Written after the events/ideas they describe, they are based upon primary sources and/or other secondary works. Thus, an early 20th-century historian could prepare a secondary study of the American Civil War through her reading of documents from that period, interviews with veterans, examination of weapons, and so on…

Primary sources are easiest to locate on the following web databases: Fordham’s Modern History Sourcebook History Matters Database @ GMU Making of America Database @ Michigan American Memory Database
Secondary Sources are easiest to locate on the following web databases:
Using the Database link choose Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) or JSTOR or Google Scholar
YOU MAY NOT USE: Textbooks, Encyclopedias, Webpages or Timelines (NO Wikipedia or

Secondary Source Annotations (50) and Primary Source Annotations (50)

An annotated bibliography includes citation information and a brief analysis of each individual source. The analysis helps the researcher evaluate the content and usefulness of each source for her/his research. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author’s point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.
Evaluate and analyze primary and secondary sources. Find thesis, argument, and evidence in secondary sources. Learn to use library resources, including the Auraria Library, WorldCat, and Interlibrary Loan.
2 paragraphs, between 100 – 150 words; full annotation should be no longer than 300 words, no less than 100 words.
1. 1st paragraph: This paragraph will include the author’s thesis, argument, evidence, and conclusions. You may also note biases and reliability of the author.
2. 2nd paragraph: This paragraph will note the usefulness of the source and your reactions to the text.
Leave one blank line, then begin next source.
Text should be single-spaced, with 1 inch margins on all sides.

Sample Annotated Bibliography Evaluation for SECONDARY sources
Source #_ 1: Below standard 2: Approaches standard 3: Meets Standard 4: Exceeds Standard
Proper Biblio Entry
Author’s Thesis
Description of Source
Discussion of Author’s Sources
Well Written

Sample Annotated Bibliography Evaluation for PRIMARY sources
Source # _ 1: Below standard 2: Approaches standard 3: Meets Standard 4: Exceeds Standard
Proper Biblio Entry
Author’s Purpose
Description of Source
Discussion of Author’s Audience
Well Written
Annotated Bibliography Examples:
(The first is 300 words, the second is 100 words)
Fichtenau, Heinrich. Heretics and Scholars in the High Middle Ages. Translated by Denise A. Kaiser. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press. 1998.
Fichtenau investigated nonconformist tendencies in Germany and France. He argued that these tendencies exhibit a new religious attitude in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Sections one and two outline the Bogomils, Cathars, and Platonism. Section three elaborates on the new schools and early scholasticism and how it could lapse into heresy. His evidence stems from church records of investigations, histories, and town records. His argument, that scholastic and heretical thought were heavily interrelated, is well made, but does have several holes, particularly in the specific differences in the new intellectual training.

“Intellectual Pursuits” outlines twelfth-century thought, although he interposes early and late twelfth-century thought, which is confusing and does not address the real differences between those years. Hugh of Honau, the deacon to Frederick Barbarossa – he seems an interesting scholar who deserves more research. “New Schools” shows monastic vs. external schools. He does not necessarily connect these external schools to cathedral schools. This is an interesting point and one to consider. Cathedral schools prepared secular clergy to deal with the laity. External schools are often unaffiliated and the instructors had academic freedom. As the twelfth century progresses, academic freedom also became part of the cathedral schools and external schools faltered. The last section is on scholasticism and heresies. After a brief description detailing how philosophy could lead to heretical accusations, the author uses specific examples. Abelard figures heavily here, as does Gilbert, Berengar, and William of Conches. His comment that the “dreadfully elitist” masters did not help their situations is well aimed. The points are well made, but lead to more specific questions, particularly regarding the differences in scholastic and monastic training.

Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000-1200. Edited by Sally N. Vaughn and Jay Rubenstein. Turnhout: Brepols. 2006.
There are twelve chapters discussing the varieties of education focusing on France, England, and Normandy. Chapters include Anselm, Lanfranc, Ivo, Guibert and various lesser-known scholars. The editors aim to erase the deficiency of scholarship on monastic learning. They seek to understand what was taught, by whom, how, and what impact this teaching had on later generations. These chapters help to explain the monastic school, which has received little study in recent years. They believe the development of education passed through the monasteries, particularly that of Bec. This work is an important addition to the study of education and scholastic training.

Part III: Outline of Paper (25 points)
Outline for Successful Historical Writing (using the MEAL plan)
a) Short summary of project/introduction of documents: Describe authors/biases/content
b) Thesis statement
c) Preview/introduce your argument subjects (INTRODUCE YOUR SOURCES BY AUTHOR AND TITLE)
d) Transition to Argument Subject One

Context/Narrative *

Argument Subject/Paragraph One (Subject Two, Subject Three, etc.)
M: Main Point
E: Evidence/Examples (from your sources)
A: Analysis of evidence
L: Link back to Thesis

a) Restate thesis (DO NOT repeat it!)
b) Concisely link argument subjects to the thesis statement
c) Connect thesis and analysis to broader class/historical themes
d) Meaning and significance of the documents
e) Individual reflection on documents/assignment /research process

*This section is included for longer paper and oral projects

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