This is the major assignment of this course. It is worth a full thirty percent of the course grade and is the basis for the oral presentation (worth an additional ten percent) that is given by each student at the end of the course. For your research project you will select a specific topic related to the general subject of the First World War and/or its legacies and write an extensive, in-depth essay based on scholarly research and critical analysis.
1. Preparing an Annotated Bibliography|
The first step in the research project is to select a topic and begin to locate relevant sources and scholarship. Each student is required to meet with the instructor to get his or her topic approved before beginning the project. By the end of the sixth week of the semester you must have your topic approved and have identified the documents (or other source material) and many of the scholarly books and articles that you will use. Having done this, you will submit a 1-2 page annotated bibliography listing the sources and scholarship you have collected that you plan to use for your research essay. This assignment itself will not be graded, but failure to submit it on time will be factored into the final paper grade. The annotated bibliography is intended to ensure that you have begun this project in earnest and to help the instructor track your progress and, if necessary, assist you with any problems in identifying and obtaining sources or research materials.
In your annotated bibliography you must state the specific topic of your essay, along with the main research question or questions that you want to ask as part of your argument. You should also state briefly why your topic is important or relevant to a larger understanding of the First World War and/or its legacies. Then list the sources you plan to use followed by scholarly books and articles, each with a brief, one-line description of its contents and usefulness to your research.
The annotated bibliography is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday 4 March.
2. The Perils of the Internet:|
The enormous volume of information now on the Internet has been both a
blessing and a curse to those doing academic research. Many websites,
especially official sites of libraries and archives and those that reproduce
historical documents and literary texts, are excellent. However, since just about anyone can
create his or her own website, there is little quality control over
information placed on the Internet. Unlike most books and articles,
websites can present information and views that are usually able to
bypass the judgment of discerning publishers, editors, and peer reviewers. Consequently,
many websites are amateurish, polemical, and factually
unreliable. As you do your research, keep a healthy skepticism about
information that comes from the web.
3. Sources and Citations:|
Since this is a college-level research essay, you must use an acceptable method of citation for academic scholarship and you must use it correctly and consistently throughout your essay. Acceptable forms of citation include footnotes, endnotes, and parenthetic citations. You must also include a full bibliography at the end of the essay with complete and separate entries for each source used. If you choose to use footnotes or endnotes you should provide a full citation when you first refer to a source and then an abbreviated citation for every subsequent reference to that source. You must account for all your sources, even quotations from one author embedded in the writing of another. If you have any questions about proper citation practices please speak with the instructor or
consult the College's Academic Integrity Policy
and Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th edition) for further guidance.
In addition to books, academic journals often contain the most recent research and developments within specialized fields of
study. JSTOR, Project Muse, and other electronic journal databases will prove useful in identifying
scholarly articles relevant to your topic. The reference librarians at Watzek Library are also helpful to students in finding research materials and navigating through the available resources at the college to find what you need. They are available to meet with you by appointment.
4. The Essay:|
Your essay should be 10-12 pages and it must have a title. All pages must be doubled-spaced, numbered, and must use standard fonts and margins. The narrative of your essay (the presentation of facts, analysis of research material, or historical chronology) should be structured around an argument or thesis. It is not enough merely to relate facts that are already known, retell a familiar story, or rehash a familiar argument. The most important objective of your essay is to present an original argument, theory, or analysis that is supported by a critical approach to your sources. Keep in mind that you are writing this essay mainly for yourself rather than for your instructor. Pick a topic in which you are truly interested and that you think is important for your own understanding of the First World War and/or its legacies.
Research for the essay should center on a few sources (original documents from the period that have not been interpreted or edited by other scholars) as well as drawing upon a variety of scholarly and/or scientific works (books or articles written about your subject). The definition of sources is broadly conceived and may, among other things, include works of visual art or musical compositions as well as written documents. In conducting your research keep in mind that the sources and scholarship are equally important. While the sources should be the focus of your argument, the scholarship will help you get a sense of how your argument compares to those of other academic experts.
In writing and revising your essay you should consult the History
Department Writing Guidelines and Grading Standards. Additionally, you might find a visit to
the Lewis & Clark Writing Center and the following reference works helpful:
Finally, be sure to edit and proofread your essay thoroughly before
submitting it. Poor syntax or structure and excessive errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar will
lower your grade.
The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition)|
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: A Guide
The research essay is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday 29 April.
5. The Oral Presentation:|
As part of the semester research project each student will complete an oral presentation. Your presentation will last ten minutes and will be given in class to an audience of your classmates and your instructor. The first 7-8 minutes of the presentation will be for you to speak followed by 2-3 minutes for responding to questions from your audience.
The focus of your presentation is your research topic and should be a concise synthesis of the content and argument of your essay. Your presentation should be guided by the following questions, but it is not limited to them:
On what specifically are you doing research and why is it important to our understanding the First World War and its legacies?|
What sorts of research materials are you using and how did you find them? What are the main strengths and limitations of these materials?
What academic methodology or perspective(s)—i.e. psychology, history, political science, etc.—are you employing in your project?
What is the original argument you are making based on your research and how does this compare to those of other scholars who have written on your topic or on ones similar to it?
What has been the most interesting or unexpected thing you have learned during the course of your research? What have been the greatest challenges in your research and in the formulation of your own argument?
Since your presentation will be given before the final essay is due, it is understood that you are presenting on a project that is not yet complete. You may indicate in the presentation the parts of your research or the formulation of your argument that are still in progress.
During your presentation you may use PowerPoint slides, short video or audio clips, or show artifacts. However, please be aware that these tools, if you choose to use them, are meant merely to enhance your presentation; they are not the focus of the presentation. If you use PowerPoint it should be for showing images only and for no other reason (definitely not for displaying a bullet-point outline of the content of your presentation). You certainly should not read from the screen of a PowerPoint presentation at the expense of maintaining contact with your audience. Likewise, if you play audio or video clips these should be very short (90 seconds at most) since your total presentation time is extremely limited.
Ultimately you will be evaluated primarily on your own speaking and presenting skills. These include clarity, style, composure, enthusiasm, engaging with your audience (eye contact), organization, and your ability to keep within the allotted time limit. As with any performance, a highly polished academic presentation must be practiced several times before it is actually given. Poor preparation or improvisation ("winging it") in a presentation are immediately evident to an attentive audience. The oral presentation is worth ten percent of the overall grade for the course.
The presentations are scheduled to occur in class between April 20 and 27. There will be five per day.
6. The James J. Kopp First-year Research Award:|
At the end of the semester you may consider applying for the James J. Kopp First-year Research Award. This award was established in 2011 by the Aubrey R. Watzek Library in memory of Dr. Jim Kopp, who was the director of the library from 1999 until his death in 2010. Two awards of $200 each are given to Exploration & Discovery students whose work best demonstrates originality and excellent research techniques.
This award is sponsored by the library and supported by the Exploration & Discovery Program and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.