Investigate Your Own Question

This assignment gives you the opportunity to explore a specific course-related topic that particularly interests or inrigues you.

Assignment:  Write a 3-5 page paper in which you do the following:
 
1.         Include a full statement of the question youre investigating.
2.         Present your findings in a clear, well-organized fashion.
3.         Identify any points on which scholars disagree.
4.         Cite sources in the body of the paper and include a complete list of references consulted, following MLA, APA or CMS guidelines.
 
Requirements
The question must be historical in nature and must fall within the chronological period covered by the course. However, it need not be something covered in class.
 
Dont stop at identifying a general topic (i.e., Cleopatra) if you do that, youll likely end up writing a simple factual report and getting a much lower grade. Instead do some preliminary research and identify a question associated with the topic (e.g., did Cleopatra have political motives for becoming involved with Julius Caesar?). This will result in a much more substantive and interesting paper, and will also make it easier to organize and write. It will also bring a much higher grade.
 
In addition to the standing criteria for grading, your paper will be judged on its seriousness of intentin other words, no facile repackaging of encyclopedia entries or offerings from the lunatic fringe. Be sure that your sources are academically sound and approach them critically.
 
Important:

All writing must be in your own words. 
Cite sources within the paper, using APA, MLA or CMS style.

            You need to cite your source whenever you:
            — quote.
            — provide information that is not common knowledge to your presumed audience.
            — give statistics.
            — use or refer to someone elses theories, ideas or opinions.

Use direct quotations sparingly and quote correctly.

 
 
Continued —

Tips:
Narrow and define your topic before you begin. A narrow, clearly-defined topic is easier to research, since you know what youre looking for. It also makes for a much better paper.
 
In defining your topic, come up with a question you want to explore in the paper. Think in terms of how or why. You dont need to come up with hard and fast answers the most interesting questions in history arent so easily answered. 
 
To get to this point, do some preliminary reading on the topic youre interested in. 
 
As you go through this process, dont just rely on web sites. The best and most interesting work is found in books, collected studies and journals. Here are some places to look:
 
     Databases of digitalized journal articles:  (EBSCO, JSTOR) accessible through the Lloyd Sealy web page.  (Look for Find articles, in the upper left-hand corner)
      CATNYP the digitalized catalogue of the New York Public Library, including the research collection at 42ndSt.  (just google CATNYP)
      ONESEARCH & CUNY + — the CUNY online catalogues  (a reminder you have borrowing privileges at every CUNY library except the Grad Center)
 
As a general rule, look for more recent works. Theyll provide the latest findings on a given subject and will often recap earlier studies.
 
You dont need to read history books cover-to-cover to know whats in them. To familiarize yourself with a given work, read the introduction / conclusion or first chapter / last chapter. This is where the author lays out his or her argument, often while discussing what else has been written on the subject, and then summarizes his or her findings.
 
 
Use and Citation of Sources
As always, document your use of sources through in-text citations and a reference list. Any paper that fails to include both will be returned without a grade.
 
You can use whichever style you prefer, APA, MLA or Chicago Manual of Style. For formatting guidelines and examples, see the links provided under Information & Resources on Blackboard. If youre still not comfortable about how to cite sources, please see me.

All papers must be submitted via SafeAssign.

Specs:
Word.doc (preferred) or PDF format
double-spaced
1 margins
11- or 12-point font

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