42.398.02   Research and Writing Skills   Fall 2009 

T-Th, 12:30-1:45   OSH 113

Professor:  M. Hickey    Office:  OSH 130  x-4161  mhickey@bloomu.edu

Office hours:  T-Th, 2:00-3:15  Wed. 3:00-5:30

Navigation links for this syllabus: 

Course Introduction      Detailed Descriptions of Assignments     

List of Graded Assignments:

List of Un-Graded, Mandatory Assignments:

Critically Important Course Policies and links:

 Schedule of Assignments




Here. . . we shall preserve the broadest interpretation of the word 'history.' The word places no a priori prohibitions in the path of inquiry, which may turn at will toward either the individual or the social, toward momentary convulsions or the most lasting developments. It comprises no credo; it commits us, according to its original meaning, to nothing other than 'inquiry.'

                                            Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft


What is history? . . . a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past.

                                            E. H. Carr, What is History?


This seminar course focuses on the process of researching and writing history. We will begin the semester by revisiting issues raised in Historiography and Historical Methods (42.298), including but not limited to:

We will then concentrate in greater detail than was possible in 42.298 on:

The majority of the semester will be devoted to completing research on, writing, and presenting your own research paper. 

You will design a research project that addresses a serious historical question through analysis of primary sources.  I must approve your topic at several stages of the research and writing process. 

The product of your research will be a 15-20 page paper (approximate length) that poses a clearly articulated research question, explains that question's significance, and answers that question based on analysis of relevant primary sources.


Grade Scale

You will complete a series of assignments designed to guide you through the process of writing a formal paper based upon original research. These include graded writing assignments as well as several un-graded writing, reading, and discussion assignments, presentations, and one-on-one conferences.

Graded assignments

Un-graded but mandatory assignments:

The specific tasks involved in each assignment are explained below, as are specific grading criteria for each. I expect you to complete each assignment as directed.  Your papers must be factually correct, employ clear and sound logic, provide appropriate evidence, follow technical conventions of historical writing (including use of source citations), and use clear, grammatical English.



Required Text: 

Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page, A Short Guide to Writing About History, 6th edition (New York:  Pearson-Longman, 2007).



Mandatory paper format:


On attendance, missed deadlines, missed conferences, missed oral reports and late papers:

Because of the nature of the course, there will be days when we do not meet as a group.  But it is essential that you attend all scheduled class sessions. 

I will consider as excused absences only medical and other emergencies that can be documented.  If you cannot attend class for some reason, I expect you to contact me in advance if at all possible.  Your class participation grade will fall by 10 percent for each unexcused absence.

We have set deadlines for approval of topics for this course.  Your class participation grade will fall by 10 percent if you miss that deadline.

You will be scheduling oral reports.  If you do not attend class and present your oral report on the day scheduled, you will fail the course.  There will be no "make up" reports.  The only exception is for excused absences. 

You will be scheduling individual conferences.  If you do not show up for a scheduled conference, you will fail the course.  There will be no "make-up" conferences. The only exception is for excused absences. 

Each of the paper assignments for this course has a due date.  The grade for any paper will fall by 5 percent per business day (9-5 pm) that the paper is overdue.  Unless otherwise indicated, papers are due in class during our scheduled meetings.  If you do not attend class, but turn a paper in during that day (or if, horror of horrors, you leave it for me in my mailbox or under my door during our class session), I will treat that paper as one day late.  The only exception is for excused absences.

Failure to complete any assignment, graded or ungraded, will result in failure for the entire course.  



Regarding Plagiarism. 

Let me make this as clear as possible—if you plagiarize on any paper in this course, if you invent or falsify evidence, or if you cheat in any other way covered by my posted policies and the University’s policies, I will immediately pursue the “formal resolution option” of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.  This means that I will file a formal complaint with the University’s Office of Student Standards.  You will go before a board of review.  If that review board finds that you have plagiarized, you will fail the course.  You may also face other disciplinary measures, such as being removed from the university.

You must cite all of our sources, using correct endnote citation form.   The Marius book has a good section on citation rules and forms.  I also have provided you with a link to my own short guide on endnote citations.

You must quote, paraphrase, and summarize text properly to avoid plagiarism.  The Marius book also discusses plagiarism and how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize source material properly.  I have provided you with a link in which I define forms of plagiarism and give basic instructions on quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing text correctly.

Detailed Descriptions of Assignments

Class participation/Attendance.  (10 percent)

Attend every scheduled class session having completed the readings and other assignments for that day.  Participate in discussion of readings and assignments.  10 percent of your course grade will be based upon the quality of your participation in discussions.  Your participation grade will drop by 10 percent with each missed class session, except in cases of excused absences.



One-on-one topic and question conference (mandatory, ungraded)

At this conference, we will discuss your research paper topic and question. You must come to this conference with the following (in writing, typed!):

If you are properly prepared and I approve your topic, then you may proceed with your research.

If you are not prepared and I do not approve your topic, then you will have to meet with me again on the next business day with your revised materials. We will repeat this process until I have approved your topic.

Topic approval is a prerequisite to all further graded activities in this class. If I do not approve your topic, you will receive no grade for any further activities. 



Primary source practice exercises: (mandatory, ungraded)

I will be giving you two primary source practice exercises.  Using documents I will provide, you will write 3-5 page practice document analysis papers.  You papers must follow this format:

Header:  Provide a correct bibliographic citation to the source (see Marius chapter 8)

Body Section A must explain the evidence presented in the document. 

    This must be in the form of coherent paragraphs (not a simple list of answers to questions). 

    First, set the document into its proper historical context (completely in your own words).  For instance, explain:

    Next, "dig deeper" and analyze the document's content.  In coherent paragraphs, explain:

    Remember, it is not enough to summarize what the document "says."  You have to analyze it!

Body Section B must explain the analytical process by which you reached your thesis.  Your focus here is on “source criticism.”  In one or two coherent paragraphs, explain:

You will bring 2 copies of each paper to class, and we will swap papers and read and discuss them.



Primary source analysis paper: (10 percent) 

1)      Pick a single document that is 1-3 pages long from among the primary source documents for your research project. 

2)      You must make a copy of that document for me and turn it in at the assigned date.

3)      I must approve the document.  If you do not get my preliminary approval for the document, I will not grade the paper.

4)      Write a 3-5 page document analysis paper on your document, following the format I have described for the practice exercises (above).

5)       On the designated date, bring to class 2 copies of your paper and 2 photocopies of the document. You will trade papers with two people in class, then read and comment on each other’s papers.  We will discuss your analysis of the documents and your comments on each others' papers.

6)      On the designated date, turn in your revised paper and a photocopy of the document. 

90 percent of your grade on this paper will be based on its accuracy, logic, and clarity.  10 percent of the grade will be based upon use of proper form, grammar and spelling.



Explanation of your research question, with a bibliography (20 percent)

You will explain your research project and research question in a 5-6 page paper (not counting the bibliography) that does the following:

Your proposal must be on the topic we discussed at your conference.  If you change topics without my approval, I will not grade your paper. 

Attach to the proposal a typed bibliography that follows the guidelines in Marius (see chapter 8).

    This bibliography must include all your primary and secondary sources that you will use in your paper. 

    Divide it into two sections: I. Primary Sources; II. Secondary Sources. 

It is your responsibility to locate serious and useful sources on your topic.  You cannot write a good paper if you have not read the most important primary and secondary sources!  If I find that there are important secondary sources that you have ignored, or that there are reasonably obtainable primary sources that you have ignored, I will deduct points from your bibliography.    

The text section of your paper will account for 50 percent of the grade.  I will grade it based upon on its logic, clarity, and coverage of the issues detailed above (90 percent) and adherence to correct form, grammar and spelling (10 percent).   

The bibliography section on your paper will account for 50 percent of the grade.  I will grade it based upon its inclusion of serious and useful sources (50 percent) and adherence to correct bibliography form (50 percent).    


Presentation of the research question (Mandatory, un-graded) 

You will explain your research project to the class in a 10-minute presentation.  After your presentation, you will answer questions about your proposal. Presenting your proposal is mandatory, as is attending the presentations of all other students. 



Paper outline and annotated bibliography of primary sources (20 percent):

First, prepare a detailed outline of your paper.

    Your outline must focus on the function that each section/group of paragraph in your paper will play.         

    Identify the paper’s major sections using Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.)

        Identify first-level sub-sections using Capital letters (A, B, C, etc.)

            Identify second-level subsections using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.)

                To be more detailed still, identify third-level subsections using small-cap letters (a, b, c, etc.)

Here is an example:

I.                    Introduction

    A.    Brief description of a anti-Jewish riot in Roslavl, Russia in 1917

    B.     Discussion of historical arguments re. general topic

        1.      On violence and popular political culture in 1917 Revolution

        2.      On anti-Jewish violence in modern Russia

    C.     Statement of research question

        1.      My specific questions   

        2.      How those questions fit into what others have written

    D.    Sources   

        1.      Discussion of sources used in this paper

        2.      Discussion of limitations of the sources used in this paper

    E.  Preliminary statement of my argument (thesis)

II.                Background Context

    A. On the city and its social environment   

        1. Before 1917

        2.  In 1917

    B. On the immediate political context

        1. The local soviet

        2. The local garrison

        3. Political party tensions 

III.              Events in Roslavl’ on the morning of 20 October 1917

    A.    Immediate causes of the riot

        1.      Gathering in town square

        2.      At Lelianov’s store

    B.     First acts of violence

        1.      Initial incident

        2.      Growth of the crowd

    C.     Expansion and escalation of violence

        1.      Failed Soviet intervention

        2.      Shootings and looting

        3.      Mob violence vs. Jewish neighborhoods.

    D.    Problems in source material

        1.      Gaps in evidence

        2.      Contradictions in evidence

        3.      My analysis

IV.             The State’s Response

(You get the idea—this and the following sections would be broken into several sections and subsections)

V.                Contemporary politicized interpretations of the riot

VI.             Subsequent Soviet historical uses of the riot

VII.          Conclusion

    A.    Summary of my analysis of the riot

    B.     Summary of my analysis of the state response

    C.     Summary of my analysis of contemporary interpretations

    D.    Summary of my analysis of Soviet interpretations

    E.     My thesis, restated

    F.      How my thesis relates to the historiography


Attached to your outline, you must have an annotated bibliography of all of your primary source documents (but not your secondary sources).  

The bibliography must list all of the documents you will use in your paper.  That means “disassembling” your “batch” sources (like newspapers, published document collections, and web-archives).  For example, if you read 15 articles in the same newspaper, that would be 15 different entries (etc).

The annotated bibliography entries must begin with a correct bibliographic citation (see Marius, chapter 8).

Each individual entry must be followed by an annotation one paragraph in length that explains:

a)       What evidence in that source is important to your research paper and why.

b)      Where in the text of your research paper you will use that evidence. (For example, Section II, Part B, paragraph 3.)

You must have annotations for all of your primary sources. 

Here is an example:


Gurevich, Solomon.   “Pogromnaia volna,” Smolenskii Vestnik, 4 October 1917, p. 2.


This was the first editorial published in Smolensk’s local newspaper that discussed the 2 October 1917 riot in the town of Roslavl’.  The newspaper’s editor, Gurevich, compared events in Roslavl’ to events in other local towns and saw each as part of a “wave” of violence.  Gurevich considered the violence a result of hunger and shortages, but also blamed far left wing and far right wing trouble makers for inciting the crowds.  Still, he strongly disagreed with liberals and conservatives who were claiming that the unrest was a product of too much revolutionary agitation.  Instead, Gurevich argued, the violence proved that more revolutionary agitation and more democratization, because only a firmly established and popular revolutionary government could restore order.  I will discuss the editorial in the Section V, Part B 2 of my paper, to examine how the immediate politicized reaction to the riot changed over the week that followed.  In analyzing the editorial’s language, I will point out that Gurevich used his commentary primarily to criticize the liberals.  That will set up my analysis of Gurevich’s 5 October editorial, in which he used the story of the riot to criticize the Bolsheviks.  I then can examine why his view of the riot had changed in just one day.


This assignment requires that you:

a)      have read all your sources, and

b)      have thought about the structure of your paper

c)      and have thought about how the evidence in each source fits into that structure. 

50 percent of the grade will be based upon your outline.  I will grade it on its logic, organizational coherence, clarity, and completeness.

50 percent of the grade will be based upon your annotated bibliography.  Half of that grade will be depend upon your use of correct bibliographic form; half will be based upon the logic and clarity of your annotations and their “placement” in the paper outline.



In-class progress reports (Mandatory, un-graded) 

On designated days, you will present 5 minute status reports on your project.  Explain what sources you have found, how these sources are helping you answer your main questions, and the problems you are confronting in your research. These presentations are mandatory, as is attending the presentations of all other students.



Completed draft of research paper  (Mandatory, un-graded) 

On the day designated, turn in a complete draft of your entire paper.  I will not accept late drafts, period.

Do not turn in your first draft! I expect that you will have already gone through several drafts before you turn in your paper.  I expect that you already will have solved basic organizational problems, corrected errors in spelling and grammar, etc.

SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS:   Your completed draft must include the following elements:

An introduction that:

·         defines your main questions

·         fits these questions into the context of what other historians have written

·         briefly discusses your primary sources and their strengths and weaknesses

·         presents your thesis


A body that:

o   provides historical context and necessary background information

o   is based on extensive analysis of the primary source evidence   

o   organizes this evidence in narrative or non-narrative form, chronologically or thematically

o   presents the evidence in a way that clearly answers the questions set out in the introduction

o   uses evidence logically to build and support the thesis stated in the introduction 


A conclusion that:

·         sums up the major findings of your research

·         explains how the answers to your questions relate to historiography on the topic.

Documentation of all quotations, paraphrases, etc., in correct endnote form (Marius ch. 8).


NOTE:  Do not include a bibliography.



One-on-one draft conference (Mandatory, un-graded) 

During the designated week, schedule an appointment with me to discuss your completed research paper draft.    

At this conference, I will give you written comments on the strengths and weaknesses of your draft as and suggestions for improving the paper. 

If you make an appointment for this conference and then do not attend without prior notice, there will be no opportunity to "make up" the meeting.


Presentation of the completed research project (Mandatory, un-graded)

You will give a fifteen minute presentation on your research project. 

Explain your question and your thesis, how your thesis fits into the historiography on your topic, what evidence and methods you have used in your research, and the structure of your argument. Then explaining the relationship between your findings and the work of other historians. 

This presentation is mandatory, as is attending the presentations given by all other students.


Completed, revised research paper (40 percent)

Your final paper (15-20 pages, plus endnotes) must be a complete and revised essay. 

You must take into consideration the comments I made on your drafts.  

The final paper will account for 40 percent of your course grade.   

Your grade on this paper will be based upon: 

*the logic and clarity of your research question

*the logic and clarity of your argument

*the logic and clarity of your exposition

*the logic and clarity of your use of primary sources

*the logic and clarity of your explanation of you your findings relate to those of other historians 

The above factors, combined, will account for 80 percent of your grade. 

*adherence to basic rules, grammar and spelling

*adherence to proper form for endnote citations 

These two factors will account for 20 percent of your grade. 

Keep in mind what I said earlier about plagiarism and your responsibility to cite all your source material and to quote, paraphrase and summarize correctly.  A paper that plagiarizes or falsifies material will still be an E paper, no matter how well written. 



Schedule of Assignments


Week I:   (M=31 August)

Tuesday:  discuss syllabus

Thursday:  discuss nature of historical inquiry, sources and layers of interpretation.

    Be sure that you have read Marius, chapters 1-2.

    WORK on your project and question proposal for out conference!

    Also, use the library databases to find and read this article for next week:

    Jeanette Keith, "The Politics of Southern Draft Resistance, 1917-1918:      Class, Race, and Conscription in the Rural South," The Journal of American History 87, no. 4 (2001):  1335-1361     Answer the linked discussion questions!!!


Week II:    (M=7 September)

Tuesday:  Modes of Historical Writing.

    Be sure that you have read Marius, chapter 3.

    We will be discussing the Keith article using the terms and ideas Marius explains regarding modes of writing.  Bring the essay and your answers to the linked discussion questions.

Thursday:  Locating sources. 

    Be sure that you have read Marius, chapter 4.

    We will discuss how to track down and order sources. 

    You should be building up lists of primary and secondary sources for your bibliography.  Start ordering sources right away, and get reading! 

    For next Tuesday, I will give you a document [Document 1] to write your first practice document analysis paper. 

    You must bring 2 copies of your paper to class next Tuesday.

TOPICS CONFERENCE sign-up sheet will be on my office door.

    Be sure that you have read the directions for the topics conference!


Week III:    (M=14 September)

Tuesday:  Document analysis practice exercise 1.

Be sure that you bring 2 copies of your paper to class!

Thursday:  Topics Conferences


Week IV:  (M=21 September)

Tuesday:  Topics conferences

Thursday:  Taking notes and identifying arguments in secondary sources. 

Read the link on note taking and note retrieval.

            Be sure that you have read Marius, chapter 5. 

            For next Tuesday, I will give you a document [Document 2] for our second practice primary source analysis paper. 

            Bring two copies of that paper to class on next Tuesday.

Work on your question explanation paper and bibliography! And keep reading your sources! 


Week V:     (M=28 September)

Tuesday:  Discussion of practice primary source analysis papers.  

Bring 2 copies of your paper for discussion.

Thursday:  Taking notes on Primary Sources.  Read the link on note-taking and note-retrieval.

Approval of primary source document for your analysis paper.

                        Bring a photocopy of your document so that I can examine it in class!

 Sign up for research project presentations, for next week.  Read the directions for these presentations!


Week VI:   (M=5 October)

Tuesday and Thursday:  Project Presentations.  

                                                                             Primary source Analysis Paper due in class on Thursday.

Work on your written Explanation of your research question, and your bibliography!

          Keep reading your sources!


Week VII:   (M=12 October)

Tuesday:  Discussion of what we have completed and what lay ahead.

Read Marius chapters 6-7.  Then read chapter 7 again.


Thursday:                                               Explanation of your research question, and your bibliography DUE.


Week VIII: (M=19 October)

Tuesday:  No class.  Work on your research!


Thursday:  Progress reports.



Week IX:  (M=26 October)

Tuesday:  No class.  WORK ON YOUR RESEARCH!


Thursday:  Progress reports and discuss Outline and Annotated Primary Source Bibliography Assignment.


Week X  (M=2 November)

Tuesday:  No class.  WORK ON PROJECT!


Thursday:  Progress reports.  Discuss paper mechanics and organization.

            Be sure to read Marius chapter 8.  And you might want to re-read chapter 7...

 You should be writing your outline and annotated bibliography!


Week XI:  (M= 9 November)

Tuesday:                                                           Outline and Annotated Primary Source Bibliography DUE

Thursday:  No class.

Schedule your Draft Conferences (sign-up sheet on my office door) 

Your Completed research paper drafts are due at the end of next week!


Week XII:  (M =16 November)

Tuesday:  No class.  (Conferences by appointment.)

Thursday:                                                                                       Completed research paper drafts Due.                

            We will discuss the draft conference process in class.


Week XIII:   Thanksgiving Recess  (M=23 November.  Thursday =Thanksgiving Day)


Week XIV:  (M=30 November)

Tuesday and Thursday:  Draft Conferences


Week XV:   (M=7 December)

Tuesday and Thursday:  Project Presentations


                                      THE  FINAL REVISED PAPER is Due on Tuesday, 15 December, by 4 PM!