430 Research Project

Phase I: Getting started. You will choose a topic and compile a preliminary bibliography.

430 Intro | 1 | 2 | 3

Choose a topic. You might want to begin with a list of things you are interested in. If you want a suggestion from me about possible topics, see the attached word document at the bottom of this page. The goal for this step is to be able to fill in the first line of the "I am studying" worksheet (attached to this page at the bottom).

Once you have chosen a topic, then you need to begin doing a literature search. Find all the relevant sources available in our library, both primary and secondary and turn in a preliminary bibliography at the appointed time.

Preliminary bibliography of Secondary sources. Minimum requirements:

    • Four overviews (two chronological, two thematic).

    • Two reference sources (one general, one specialized)

    • Two article-length monographs from scholarly articles found on JSTOR

    • Four book-length monographs (two directly on your topic; two on closely related topics)

On Overviews and surveys

Chronological overviews/surveys: You can find lists of these under the “books” tab on every libguide.

Thematic overviews/surveys: This is not an exhaustive list, but a good start.

    • From Colony to Superpower (foreign policy),

    • Born for Libery (women),

    • The Way we Never Were (families),

    • Intimate Matters (sexuality),

    • There is Power in a Union (labor),

    • Children of Fire (African American history),

    • People's History of the Supreme Court,

    • Different Mirror (immigrants),

    • Strangers in the Land (nativism).

Preliminary bibliography of primary sources (a list of locations rather than individual documents, e.g., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, not Wilson's "New Freedom Speech").

See page 749 or Nixonland for more online archival sources.

The bibliography should be divided into primary and secondary sources, in Chicago/Turabian style, and alphabetized with hanging indents.

A word about URLs. Don't use URLs that are longer than a line, or two at the most. See Taming the URL.

Phase II: Research and writing. You will finish this phase by producing a rough draft. As you learn more about your topic, you should be able to fill in the rest of the "I am studying" worksheet.


Before you turn in the rough draft, go through the following checklist. (The recommended length for the final paper is 12-15 pages--3000-4000 words). Your rough draft does not need to be the full length of the final paper, but it should include the analytically most important parts of the essay, about 8 pages. Do not fall into the trap of turning in a paper that is mostly background information.

Every rough draft should include the following:

    • a title that is informative and lets the reader know the topic and the angle

    • a thesis, underlined

    • Times New Roman, 12-point font

    • double spacing

    • numbered pages

    • ample margins on all sides

  • heading: your name and format, and a word count.

    • indented and single spaced quotations of more than 3 lines. Do not use quote marks on these "block quotes"

    • documentation of all sources of information using proper (Chicago/Turabian style) footnotes:

        • use the proper format: See the citation guide on the Library web page.

        • use shortened forms after first use of a source

      • combine footnotes where appropriate. You may list more than one source in a footnote. Separate sources using a semicolon

    • spell checking and proofreading

    • a bibliography, which begins on a separate page. Include a heading and separate into primary and secondary sources.

  • Bring a hard copy of your paper, or your laptop, to the assigned conference time and place. See the Google doc for time and place.

Do not miss your appointment for the rough draft conference. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to reschedule you, and so missing your pre-scheduled appointment means you may forfeit your chance for a conference with me.

Phase III: Revision. Produce a final draft of your paper.

Final Draft checklist.

  • Any items on Rough Draft Checklist not already taken care of should be fixed.

  • Make revisions discussed in the conference.

  • Do not underline the thesis this time.

  • Length parameters: Recommended length 3000-4000 (12-15 pages). Minimum length of paper for a passing grade: 2000-word minimum (8 pages). Maximum length: 5000 words (20 pages).

A note on grading. See this page, to know the department standards for a successful paper. Assessment will be based on the quality of the final project and how convincing an argument it makes, and also on process, including:

    • Meeting deadlines, especially for the rough draft

  • Producing a substantive final draft that is at least 3000 words long and otherwise meets the criteria outlined in the Rough Draft Checklist.

430 Intro | 1 | 2 | 3