Your assignment is to write an original research paper that should be approximately 2,000 words, or six to seven double-spaced pages. In the process of writing this paper you will learn and then demonstrate the essential skills of the historian: defining a research question, gathering evidence, interpreting sources, and articulating an original argument about the significance of your findings.
The course website contains a list of suggested topics along with a pairing of a single primary source and a single secondary source. You should use these sources to get started. The pairing of primary and secondary sources offers background on the issues surrounding the paper topic. Once you have started your investigation with the pairings, you should use the OU Library’s research resources (which includes a collection of archives on the web and a more general guide to primary source research). to continue your search for further evidence. (If you wish, you may choose your own topic with the approval of your GTA.)
Your paper may focus on the primary document itself, with further research to flesh out your analysis, for example by examining the way that the document was viewed by contemporary Americans or providing context about the document’s production or impact. Alternately, your paper may use the document as a starting point to examine a related subject, such as the event that caused the author to write that document.
Your GTAs will guide you through the process of researching and writing these papers in discussion section, beginning with the process of defining your topic using the material on the course website. The process looks like this:
- By the end of week seven you must select a paper topic.
- In week eleven you will submit an annotated bibliography on the primary sources that you plan to use in your paper. You should aim for 5-8 primary sources and several secondary sources, and provide one or two sentences summarizing each source.
- In week thirteen you must submit a draft of your introductory paragraph (approximately 200-300 words), including your thesis statement.
- Your final research paper is due on April 26.
The research paper is worth 200 points of your final grade; the bibliography and introduction are worth 25 points each.