Due by on Moodle by (or before!) 11:59pm Saturday, February 17, 2018.
The first major requirement this semester for your research paper is a formal research prospectus. Your prospectus should be approximately 4 pages long and consist of the following elements:
I. A clearly stated set of HISTORICAL QUESTIONS.
A. See Presnell, Chapter 1 and Harvard Dept. History handout for guidance.
B. Ideally this will consist of a central questions with other related questions that lead into the main line of argument.
II. A clear description of your topic and its historical context.
A. Be as clear and concise as you can be, but descriptive. If you have multiple roads you could go down with your research, here is the time to elaborate on the possibilities.
B. Make sure you have at least a preliminary idea for source bases/secondary literature for each of those plans. Contingency is key.
III. A brief discussion of the existing scholarly literature on the topic and an indication of how your paper will contribute to our knowledge of the subject, including bibliographic citation (Chicago Style) and location/status of said materials.
A. Use Library Resources/World Cat/Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) to locate possible secondary materials and read abstracts/reviews to hypothesize as to their usefulness – you will be doing the extended annotated bibliography as the next stage in your project.
C. H-Net (www.h-net.org) is also a great source for BOOK REVIEWS and a good way to quickly ascertain relevance. However, these book views are not substitutes for reading the actual book.
IV. A brief survey of the relevant primary sources you intend to use in your research – you need at the very minimum to have an idea as to the location of possible sources and have a plan for procuring copies or visiting the archive. The nature of this element will depend largely upon what kind of topic you choose.
A. You should be contacting possible source bases during this period – archives, individuals, etc.
B. If you need assistance doing preliminary research GO (physically) – to the library.
V. A preliminary schedule for completing the research portion of your project
A. You should have identified at least two source collections from which to draw primary sources. If they are available electronically, you should begin to organize and analyze these sources while you are waiting for secondary material.
B. If your primary sources are not available online, how long will it take for you to get ahold of primary sources? Have you begun that process yet? This will involve calling and/or emailing archives, arranging visits or discussing the possibility of ordering electronic copies of available resources. Try to plan for alternative source bases if you run into a dead end.