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ASSIGNMENT: You are going to investigate some topic of American history we have studied in
this course by analyzing several different historical records about that topic, explaining the
similarities and differences among the records, and drawing conclusions about the topic in a 5-7
page (1200-1500 word) research paper. Your research paper must include the following: title
page (w/name, date, period and topic title), six citations within the body of your paper (from at
least four different sources, a works cited page with minimum of four sources, a bibliography
card folder, topic proposal form, and research paper outline. In addition to this assignment guide
Your purpose is to write an investigative report and your audience is your teacher and
classmates. Avoid simply collecting facts. Instead, focus on creating a historical investigation
paper that synthesizes or combines information from various sources. Include conclusions you
draw about that information based on logical analysis. Your tone should be formal and objective,
written in the third-person point of view. Avoid slang and colloquial expressions.
You will be investigating and drawing your own conclusions about some topic pertaining to
American history and its significance. Your topic can be an historical event, person, place, idea,
or thing. A single record of a historical topic represents only one perspective, or point of view,
on that topic. So, to better understand it, you need to examine a wide variety of sources
representing all relevant perspectives of that topic. As you consider a topic, look for one that
interests you—one you have a driving interest to know about and for which you will be able to
find a variety of sources. You should also make sure that the topic is narrow enough to cover in
1200-1500 words.
The marches on Washington in 1964 changed the way the government and the people saw the
philosophical, moral, cultural and political values of America. When researching, I would look

Who was involved, not just one, but many, what kinds of people?
What exactly happened there?
When did the idea come up and when did the effects stop?
Where did the people come from? Where did they go and how?
Why did they come? Why did they wait so long? Why did they leave?
How did they organize it? How did they get results? How did the people react? How did
the government react?
Using the format shown on the model, TYPE up a historical research topic proposal form.
Include the topic you want to investigate, a paragraph explaining your reasons for choosing this
topic and 5-10 interesting questions about your topic.
Clear and interesting questions (IQ’s) will help you focus your research and help you analyze
different perspectives of your event. Good IQ’s ask HOW or WHY not who, when or how many.
Using the format shown on the model, TYPE up a historical research topic proposal form.
Include the topic you want to investigate, a paragraph explaining your reasons for choosing this
topic and 5-10 interesting questions about your topic.
Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following

Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study.
Help learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure a research
problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been
answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become familiar with scholarship related to your
Improve your general research and writing skills.
Practice identifying what logical steps must be taken to accomplish one’s research goals.
Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active
participant in the process of doing scholarly research.
A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a complete research study,
with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your
proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the results of the study
and your analysis of those results. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your
writing. It is, therefore, important that your writing is coherent, clear, and compelling.
Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose,
all research proposals must address the following questions:
1. What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research
problem and what it is you are proposing to research.
2. Why do you want to do it? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must
conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a
topic worthy of study. Be sure to answer the “So what? question.
3. How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you’re having
trouble formulating a research problem to propose investigating,
Common Mistakes to Avoid

Failure to be concise; being “all over the map” without a clear sense of purpose.
Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review.
Failure to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people,
Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
Failure to stay focused on the research question; going off on unrelated tangents.
Sloppy or imprecise writing. Poor grammar.
Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.
Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre.
University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal.
Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network
on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences,
Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research
Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Clear and interesting questions (IQ’s) will help you focus your research and help you analyze
different perspectives of your event. Good IQ’s ask HOW or WHY not who, when
Begin with a general reference work to answer your questions. Also, an article in a general
reference work usually mentions other sources you can use. For this initial step, consult a print
encyclopedia or search the Internet for key words. Once you have an overview of the topic, move
on to specific sources that can help you answer your research questions.
Choose a balance of primary and secondary sources. A primary source is firsthand, original
information, such as a letter, an autobiography, work of literature or art, a historical document, or
an interview with a person who participated in the event being researched. A secondary source is
information derived from, or about, primary sources, or even from other secondary sources, like
an encyclopedia, documentary film, biography, history book, or an interview with a historian.
Choose reliable sources. Research as much as possible in journals and books published by
reputable institutions such as major universities and well-known publishing
companies. Remember to check Internet sources for reliability and validity. Educational,
government and professional websites are usually valid. The reliability of facts can be judged
only through logical analysis. Make sure your sources cover all relevant perspectives. Look for
sources that tell the perspectives of all the major groups involved in the event.
Use a separate note card for each source and for each piece of information; write complete and
accurate information about all the sources you consult, even if you’re not sure you will use them
in your paper. Include a short note describing the information contained in the source. This
collection of cards will make up your annotated bibliography folder. Also, since your Works
Cited list will contain specific publishing information, you will save time by recording your
source cards exactly as they will appear on your Works Cited page (using MLA formatting).
Direct Quotation – To capture interesting, well-phrased passages or a passage’s technical
accuracy, quote an author directly and exactly, including punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
Try not to quote too much. Your task is to synthesize information and draw conclusions from it,
not to stitch together a long series of quotations. Use quotation marks and remember to use
ellipsis points to indicate omissions from quoted text. Use brackets to explain words you have
changed for the sense of a sentence.
Paraphrase – If you want to use specific ideas or information from a source without quoting the
source, paraphrase the information. Paraphrasing requires completely rewriting the information
in your own words and style.
Summary – Summarize information when you want to use the general idea presented in a source.
A summary is highly condensed – typically one fourth to one third the length of the original
BIBLIOGRAPHY NOTE CARD: This note card should contain all information needed for
Bibliography in the “proper format”. Remember, this is about saving time. You only want to find
this information once!
INFORMATION NOTE CARD: This note card should contain one fact, quote, or piece of
information. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences. You should also make sure to
have the author’s name and page number for citation purposes. Color coding can help, but is not
Another possible way would be to use one sheet of paper per source (in a spiral or collected in a
folder), put all your bibliographical information at the top and use the same format as the note
cards above.
NOTE: ROUGH DRAFT You will not be required to turn in a rough draft in advance of the
final draft. It is strongly recommended that you ask at least three people to read it before your
final submission. You may ask the teacher to read it in rough draft form before final submission,
but you must submit it a week prior to due date for the optional rough draft reading.
III. RESEARCH REPORT After gathering your research information, begin by synthesizing
the important information and developing a plan for your paper so you can put all the pieces

WRITE A THESIS STATEMENT How does it all fit together? What larger point, or
general conclusion, does all the information support? Write a thesis statement in which
you state your topic and your general conclusion about it. You may also include your
subtopics. Here is an example of a thesis statement: The Montgomery bus boycott was an
important turning point of the twentieth century African American freedom movement
that inspired movements for freedom around the globe; it exemplified an unparalleled
unity across class, gender and color lines that lead to a civil rights movement that
transformed America.
DEVELOP AN OUTLINE An outline provides an organizational overview of your
paper, and allows you to ensure that your ideas flow in a logical progression, with
adequate support for each idea. Decide how to best order the sections (the sub-topics by
which you have grouped your note cards). You can use one or a combination of
chronological order (order in which events occur), logical order (related ideas grouped
together) and order of importance (most important idea to least important, or the reverse).
Put your information into a formal outline (which has numerals and letters) to identify
headings (main ideas), subheadings (supporting ideas and evidence) and details. Outline
should be in complete sentences.
WRITE YOUR PAPER It is important to keep format in mind when preparing your
research paper. Your paper must follow MLA style guidelines. Organize your topic and
subtopics in a way that makes sense. This is not just a 5 paragraph essay. You are
writing a 1200-1500 word research paper. You should expect a 12-15 paragraph essay.
o INTRODUCTION—state your thesis and engage your reader by informing the
reader what to expect in your paper.
o BODY PARAGRAPHS—Use subheadings to divide different aspects of research.
Body paragraphs should reveal the guts of your research and should be guided by
interesting questions about your topic. Each body paragraph must contain a topic
sentence, important information you found regarding your topic and why it is
important, the source or evidence that supports your discovery, and a concluding
and/or transitional sentence that reveals some insight about your topic and forms a
transition into your next subtopic paragraph or source.
o CONCLUSION— Restate the topic you explored and highlight important things
you discovered.
WORKS CITED LIST Your works cited page contains all the sources, print and non-print, that
you credit in your paper. You may have used other sources, but if you do not credit them in your
historical research paper you need not include them in a Works Cited list. (So, it is possible that
you will not use all of your source cards in the Works Cited). Center the words Works Cited at
the top of the page. Begin each entry on a separate line. Alphabetize the sources by the authors’
MLA: STANDARDIZED GUIDELINES The following rules must be applied and followed
to ensure that an essay or composition follows accepted standardized MLA procedures.

Paper is typed and printed in black ink.
Only print on one side of the paper.
Margins are 1″ (one inch) on all sides.
Header (your last name) is ½” from the top left-hand corner. Each page must have a
header consisting of your last name and the page number.
Standard font size 12, Times New Roman.
Double-space throughout your paper.
Use a separate title page when specifically requested by instructor—title is centered on
title page. About 1 from the bottom is where you place your first and last name,
instructor’s name, period or class, date.
On the first page of your paper (excluding title page) include the title of your paper, it
should be centered two lines below the date. Do not underline the title, quote the title,
put in bold, make it a larger font, or change the font size or type in any way.
Indent (five spaces, or the ―Tab key) the first word of each paragraph.
Only one space follows the end of a paragraph.
Margins are left-hand justified.
Plagiarism, as defined by Keys for Writers (2nd ed.) is when you deliberately or
inadvertently present someone else’s actual words or even ideas as if they were your own. .
. In the academic world, you will be perceived as plagiarizing if you:

Include in your own essay a passage, an identifiable phrase, or an idea that you have
copied from someone else’s work without acknowledging and documenting your source.
Use exactly the same sequence of ideas and organizations of argument as your source.
Fail to put an author’s words inside quotation marks.
Use in your paper long sections that have been rewritten by you, a friend or a tutor.
Buy, find, or receive a paper that you turn in as your own work.
Example of Original Source
―If any language group, Spanish or others, choose to maintain its language, there is precious
little that we can do about it, legally or otherwise, and still maintain a free country, we cannot
legislate the language of the home, the street, the bar, the club, unless we are willing to set up a
[type] of language police who will ticket and arrest us if we speak something other than English
(Stalker). James C. Stalker, ―Official English or English Only, English Journal 77 (Mar.
Plagiarized Paraphrase . . . If any group of languages, Greek or other, decides to keep its
language, there is not much any of us can do, with laws or not, and still claim to be a free
country. We cannot pass laws about what we speak at home, on the street, or in restaurants,
unless we also decide to tolerate having special police who will take us off to jail if they hear us
not speaking English.
Valid Paraphrase . . . Stalker points out that in a democracy like the United States, it is not
possible to have laws against the use of a language and it certainly would not be possible to
enforce such laws in homes and public places (21). Note: You must give readers a source of
information to avoid plagiarism.
Running Acknowledgments: Use this method for integrating direct quotes into your essay.
Beginning: Kathleen Macdonald says, ―In a summary you are to transmit a condensed version
of the original material to your reader, you are not to interpret, evaluate, or react to the material
Middle: ―To paraphrase something, MacDonald (188) points out, ―is to restate it in your own
End: ―When you use the phrases of another writer, you must put marks around them, to show
that they are borrowed, MacDonald explains (188).
Parenthetical Notation: Use this method for integrating facts that you have put into your own
words. To transmit a condensed version of the original material to your reader, you are not to
interpret, evaluate, or react to that material (MacDonald 187).
You must have at least six sources. Only two may be from the internet.
A minimum of 25 cards from 5 sources

Collecting a copy early to verify format, understanding, expectations
Check list below to be sure all required elements are included with final draft of research paper

The project must be done on white paper in black ink
Entire project must follow MLA Style
Use Times New Roman, Trebuchet, or Arial fonts only
The entire report must be in 12 point font, double spaced
Margins top, bottom, left and right must be 1”
All pages, except the cover page, must be numbered in header with last name.
Paper must be 1200-1500 words long (5-7 pages)

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