British History Research Paper
For your first semester paper, choose a topic from one we've discussed or read about, or something that interests you. Here is a massive list of many topic ideas from the time period we'll be covering in our first semester. Define a specific research question to guide your study. Find three sources of information, one of which must include a physical document, either a book or article, that you acquire from a library. Create research notecards, an outline, and then a first draft. Using peer review and instructor comments, revise your rough draft into a 2000 word paper with a clear question in the introduction and a clear answer in the conclusion.
Due Dates Timeline:
Sept 26: Choose topic
Oct 3: Narrow topic and submit a 200 word essay defining your research question.
Oct 17: Identify at least two online sources and at least one physical source.
You may use the internet to identify sources to search for at the library, so that you're prepared with some ideas when you go. However, you must then travel to a library, moving your actual physical body through the doors and speaking to a live person who answers to the title, "Librarian." Think of what you will ask the librarian when you get there. Something like. "I'm a geography student, and I am researching the Panama Canal. I'm trying to find out why the Americans succeeded when the French failed. Do you have any advice for me, doing research in the library?"
Your paper will use parenthetical notation to cite sources. Each time you use information from a source, either in a direct quote or a paraphrase, or reporting a fact you learned, you'll use parentheses, the author's last name, and the page number if applicable. Here's more on how to do parenthetical notation. Then you'll write a page of Works Cited to come at the end of your paper, identifying the sources you referenced in the parentheses. This Works Cited page will be written in MLA format, which you can learn about here. When you submit your sources, you must use MLA format also. More on writing a Works Cited page.
Oct 31: Create research note cards
Take notes on each one of your sources using a note card system. Buy a pack of index cards. On each card, you'll write the specific topic, the source, the page number (if applicable) and the information or quote you're noting down. So if you're writing about the Panama canal, you might find a quote about mosquito infestations. The topic of the card would be maybe "Obstacles to Building."
You'll group facts and quotes about similar topics together when you make your outline. Here's a page that tells more about using note cards for research. Bring your research cards to class, bound with a rubber band, to be graded.
Nov 7: Outline First Draft
Turn in your first draft of an outline. This outline should have three levels: Roman numerals, capital letters, and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc). Turn this in on paper, printed out, for class on the 7th.
Nov 14: Half First Draft
Your entire first draft will be due on November 29, but you must turn in at least 1000 words of it on April 4, for a grade.
Nov 29: Full First Draft
Bring two copies of your draft, printed out, including parenthetical notations and a Works Cited page, to class on Tuesday. You will exchange with another student and take home a peer review form to complete.
Dec 5: Peer Review Due
Follow the instructions on your peer review worksheet to mark up your partner's draft, and provide suggestions and comments on the sheet. This is the day you'll receive a marked up copy of your draft back from your instructor.
Dec 12: Final Draft Due
Turn everything in class on Tuesday:
Half draft with my notes
First draft with my notes
Peer editing sheet
Peer editing copy with partner's notes