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Welcome to the Research Assignment for HIST 305: Roots of Contemporary Issues. This set of assignments includes 4 research/analysis components completed over the course of the semester that will culminate in a minimum 1250-word (five page) research essay in which you examine the historical roots of a contemporary issue of interest to you. In these four research assignments, you will use WSU Libraries resources to:
Identify a case study of contemporary significance of which you intend to explore the historical roots – at least before 1990 –
and global dimensions.
Gather appropriate sources for your chosen topic and learn how to differentiate kinds of sources.
Develop an initial thesis statement for your research essay (a hypothesis about the potential historical roots of your contemporary issue) and revise it in light of new sources and analysis.
Critically analyze the sources that you gather and identify useful passages and information within.
Connect newly found sources to those youve previously located.
Learn how to cite sources correctly according to historical disciplinary standards.
Research Assignment #1 – Defining Your Topic & Analyzing Contemporary Newspapers
In Research Assignment #1 you will explore contemporary newspaper sources in order to identify a contemporary issue and its historical roots for study throughout the semester. Your contemporary issue should be of interest and importance to you, have historical dimensions – at least before 1990 – you can analyze, and should also connect to one or more of the broader themes of this course (globalization, humans and the environment, inequality, diverse ways of thinking, and/or the roots of contemporary conflicts). You will conclude part one by developing 1-2
preliminary research questions based on the initial source that you gather. After youve completed part one, you will receive feedback on
the viability of your chosen topic, your selection of contemporary newspaper sources, and your research questions.
Library Help
Each database search in the assignment (e.g., Lexis-Nexis) is demonstrated for you in a short video tutorial on the Roots of Contemporary Issues Libguide. Review the tutorials before trying your search. If you have still have questions, or need help, contact a librarian:
Library Contact information: WSU Pullman | WSU Global and NPS Everett
| WSU Vancouver | WSU Tri-Cities
Question 1 – Statement of Research Topic (5/25
Create a new Word document and start with the heading Q1 – Research Topic.
Write no more than 2 sentences about the contemporary topic you are interested in learning more about.
This topic is going to evolve as you learn more about it, but right now you want to find something that is happening today that is interesting to you. As you think about a topic, remember you will be exploring its historical roots, so youll want to think about your topic in a way that can be traced back through history.
For example, if you are interested in the impact of genetically modified crops on the environment, you may want to phrase this in terms of how humans have used technology to increase access to food or how poor resource management has led to decreased food production.
Tip: Avoid vagueness. For example, dont say that you want to write about the “history of inequality.” That’s an impossible task. Rather, you might propose to make an argument about a very specific historical example of inequality, like the role of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in creating a South African movement against racial inequality that continues to work for racial justice today.
Question 2 – Locate and analyze a Contemporary Newspaper Article (10/25
Start a new heading: Q2 – Contemporary Newspaper Analysis.
Using the Newspapers LibGuide
hyperlinked below, perform a keyword search for a newspaper article published
within the last three years
on a topic of contemporary relevance and interest to you.
For example, if you’re interested in the role of
and/or the country of
and want to know more about the historical intersection of the two, a search using the terms “racism” AND “Guatemala” and limited to articles
published after January 1, 2015 turns up over 400 articles (some of which are more relevant to the search terms than others).
Read and analyze a relevant
article (also download it for quick reference later), and
write a 5-7 sentence narrative that introduces the event(s)
covered in the article. With revisions, this paragraph may well serve as the first paragraph of your final project: a hook that draws your reader’s attention and
that introduces the contemporary issue before turning to its historical roots. See the sample RA 1 provided here in the folder.
Newspapers LibGuide = Scan the tabs to see how information about newspapers is divided in this guide, look at the Newspaper Databases box in the middle of the screen, click on Nexis Uni
(the Libraries most comprehensive newspaper source). Next, search for newspaper articles by opening the Search the News search box (and limiting by source type to newspapers). [see Part I:Database Specific Video Tutorials]
Question 3 – Cite Your Contemporary Newspaper Article (5/25
Start a new heading: Q3 – Contemporary Newspaper Citation.
All researchers must cite their sources so that their readership has the opportunity to check their analysis if desired. Using Chicago Style, type the bibliographic citation of one newspaper article (must be less than three years old) under the Question 3 – Contemporary Newspaper Citation heading.
Bookmark this RCI Chicago-style page for quick reference. Unless otherwise directed, use only this page and the Purdue OWL site (introduced later) for this series of research assignments. If you go elsewhere, you may get information that is not from the latest edition of the Chicago Manual or in other ways is inaccurate.
Question 4 – Ask an Initial Research Question
Typically, once researchers have read and analyzed an initial source or sources (like youve just done), they formulate a set of preliminary research questions that they hope to answer by the end of their research. Often research questions change, and almost always new questions arise.
Read the
Part I: Writing Research Questions
Part I: Roots Research Question Example
research guides to aid you in the process of writing your research questions.
Start a new heading: Q4 – Research Question.
Formulate one (or up to two) clear and concise research question(s) based on your analysis of your contemporary newspaper article, Do not be vague by saying something like: What are the historical roots of my contemporary issue? Remember that you need not yet know the answer to your question (its actually better that you dont). This frees you up to then begin seeking the answers through the course of your research.