Essay About Research

Research Essay (assignments 1 and 2)


The objective of the assignment is to produce a research essay examining one of three selected topics below from World War One and is to be completed in two steps.  The final essay will be marked for depth and sophistication of research, as well as for the overall quality of writing. 

At the fourth year level students must be familiar with the research and application of primary sources.  As such, the core of this research essay must be based on primary sources. Primary sources must represent a substantial portion of the research used in the final paper. In addition you will  also need to use a range of secondary sources to create a theoretical or contextual framework to tie the primary material together and to help substantiate the arguments made.  The final assignment is divided into two parts, each with separate requirements and due dates.  For ease of consideration and reference, the two parts will be considered as separate assignments.

In order to ensure that students will have sufficient primary sources on which to build an essay, the topics below have a Canadian focus in order to utilize available sources.

 *****Important Note on Internet Sources:****
Due to the varying quality of internet sites and the difficulty facing students of distinguishing credible from non-credible internet sources, internet sites may ONLYbe used for primary materials for the research paper. No secondary or interpretive  materials from the internet will be permitted for the essay.

Topic 1:
Examine the war as depicted in the popular national periodicals of the day.  Students will research and evaluate editorials and articles connected to Canada at war in the pages of Macleans and Saturday Night.  These periodicals can be used individually or in combination with one another.  They can be used to examine any theme or event throughout the war, with the exception of Vimy Ridge.

For this assignment students must use a minimum of twelve editorials or articles from these sources.  In addition students must also use a minimum of two books and two scholarly articles in the writing of their final essay.

Topic 2:
Examine the war as depicted in the daily press of the day.  Students will research and evaluate editorials and articles connected to Canada at war in the pages of Canadian newspapers available on microfilm.  The library holds microfilm copies of  many newspapers of the period including The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, Victoria Daily Times, etc.    These newspapers can be used individually or in combination with one another  to examine any theme or event throughout the war, with the exception of Vimy Ridge.

For this assignment students must use a minimum of twelve editorials or articles from these sources.  In addition students must also use a minimum of two books and two scholarly articles in the writing of their final essay.

Topic 3:
Evaluate the historical accuracy of Barker's Regeneration by comparing selected themes within the novel to other primary and secondary sources.  This is not an essay about either the novel or the primary sources on their own, but is to be constructed as a comparison and evaluation utilizing both the novel and the available primary sources.  For the purposes of this topic, the primary materials for comparison (letters and diaries) are to be taken from the WWI materials available from The Canadian Letters and Images Project.  Choose one of the following themes from the novel for the basis of the comparison:

  • war and its depiction (the soldier's experiences of war)
  • concepts (singularly or in combination) of patriotism, honour, duty, loss, or horror
  • relationships (ie family, friends, comrades, etc.)

For this assignment, students must use a minimum of twelve separate sources from The Canadian Letters and Images Project (Each letter used will be considered a separate source.  Diaries will count as only one source, regardless of how many entries from the diary are used.), in addition to a minimum of two books and two scholarly articles in the writing of the final essay.

Assignment #1

There are two requirements of the first assignment: a) provide a clear, well defined thesis statement for the final paper and b)  discuss some of the research to be incorporated into the final paper.  This assignment is to be 1,200 words in length.

a) Thesis Statement (400 words)

The topics above are only the broad topic areas for the final essay.  You must take that topic area and design a solid thesis for the final essay, which cannot be done unless you have first examined the primary sources available for that topic.
In your essay you must have a well defined thesis, or argument, throughout the final paper.  The purpose of the first assignment is to clearly define the argument  you will make in your final paper.  Your final essay is not to be a narrative of events or a retelling of a story.  You must take a stand and argue a point of view in your essay.   You need to indicate the purpose of your paper.  What will it achieve or demonstrate?  How willit expand our understanding of some aspect of the war era.? Only by reading a range of sources can you achieve a sense of the issues involved and create a strong argument which reflects the complexities of the topic and the period.  The thesis can make or break the final paper and thus requires some thought.  Good research will be wasted on a pointless or superficial argument.  You must also be certain to define the parameters of the paper ( ie geographic, chronological, etc.) and justify the use of those parameters.

b) Research Discussion
This is to be a discussion of the source material which is to be used in the final essay.  In doing so:

  • Discuss the primary source material which will be used (ie from where, what years, sampling technique, etc.) and how specifically it will be used in the final paper. As well, consider any assets and/or limitations of the sources that you are using. From those sources discussed choose three (3) examples and discuss in detail their content, why they are relevant to your thesis, and how they will be used in the final paper. (600 words) 
  • Discuss one (1) of the scholarly articles which will be used in the final paper.  In doing so define the main argument of the author, why this work is relevant to your thesis, and how it will be used in the final paper. (200 words)

This is not to be a mini-essay, but instead a discussion and analysis of the source material in relation to the thesis and the overall objectives  that you have indicated for the  final paper.  

Assignment #2

This is to be the full research paper which builds on the argument and material presented in assignment #1  .  The final essay will be marked for depth of research, sophistication of argument, and quality of writing.  Correct bibliographic and reference forms for history are required.  The final essay is to be 3,000 words in length, +/- 5%.    

There are some restrictions as to what sources may or may not be used in the writing of the paper, in addition to the restriction on internet sources above:

  • use a minimum of 2 books (not including either Barker or Howard)

  • if you are unclear about what constitutes a scholarly article, read the following page from Cornell University)

  • may not use encyclopedias of any form

  • use only primary materials from the internet - no secondary or interpretive materials from the internet will be permitted

 Be certain that you are familiar with the due date policy.

  Assignment Due Dates:

  • Assignment #1                    Tuesday February 14, 2006
  • Assignment #2                    Tuesday April 4, 2006

Writing a Research Paper

This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper.

Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.

  1. Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Researchable Topic
  2. Finding, Selecting, and Reading Sources
  3. Grouping, Sequencing, and Documenting Information
  4. Writing an Outline and a Prospectus for Yourself
  5. Writing the Introduction
  6. Writing the Body
  7. Writing the Conclusion
  8. Revising the Final Draft

 

Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Researchable Topic

  • Try to find a topic that truly interests you
  • Try writing your way to a topic
  • Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
  • Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved

Finding, Selecting, and Reading Sources

You will need to look at the following types of sources:

  • library catalog, periodical indexes, bibliographies, suggestions from your instructor
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journals, books, other documents

Grouping, Sequencing, and Documenting Information

The following systems will help keep you organized:

  • a system for noting sources on bibliography cards
  • a system for organizing material according to its relative importance
  • a system for taking notes

Writing an Outline and a Prospectus for Yourself

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the topic?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What background material is relevant?
  • What is my thesis or purpose statement?
  • What organizational plan will best support my purpose?

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Writing the Introduction

In the introduction you will need to do the following things:

  • present relevant background or contextual material
  • define terms or concepts when necessary
  • explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose
  • reveal your plan of organization

Writing the Body

  • Use your outline and prospectus as flexible guides
  • Build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don't let your sources organize your paper)
  • Integrate your sources into your discussion
  • Summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it
  • Move up and down the "ladder of abstraction" from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization

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Writing the Conclusion

  • If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction.
  • Perhaps suggest what about this topic needs further research.

Revising the Final Draft

  • Check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.
  • Paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
  • Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
  • Documentation: consistent use of one system, citation of all material not considered common knowledge, appropriate use of endnotes or footnotes, accuracy of list of works cited.
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