Prof. David Campion

London constables escort a family to safety during the London Blitz, 1940 © Imperial War Museums



1. Preparing an Annotated Bibliography

The first step in the research paper is to select a topic and begin to locate relevant sources. By the middle of the semester you should have chosen your thesis topic and identified the primary sources and most of the secondary sources that you will use. Having done this, you will submit a 2-3 page annotated bibliography listing the sources you have collected that you plan to use for your thesis. This assignment will not be graded. It is intended to help the instructor track your progress and, if necessary, assist you with any problems in identifying and obtaining sources or research materials.

In your annotated bibliography state the specific topic of your thesis, along with the main historical question or questions that you want to ask as part of your argument. Then list separately the primary sources you plan to use followed by secondary books and articles, each with a brief, one-line description of its contents and usefulness to your research.

The annotated bibliography is due at the beginning of class on Thursday, 17 October.

2. Thesis Outline

The thesis outline is meant to help move you from the source gathering and reading stages of your project to laying out the structure of your thesis. The outline should be 3-4 pages in bullet form and should give a sense of how you see your thesis unfolding (introduction, sections, conclusion, etc.). You should be as specific as you possibly can in showing how you intend to employ your primary sources in constructing an argument and what your secondary sources have to say about your subject and its larger historical importance.

As with the annotated bibliography, the outline reflects a work still very much in progress. Consequently you are not committed to having the draft or the final thesis conform exactly to the outline. You are free to make substantial changes later as need be. The completion of the outline will help you prepare the rough draft for peer review.

The thesis outline is due at 5:00 PM on Thursday, 31 October.

3. The Perils of the Internet

The enormous volume of information now on the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse to those doing historical research. Many websites, especially official sites of libraries and archives and those that reproduce historical documents, are excellent. However, since just about anyone can create his or her own website, there is little quality control over information placed on the Internet. Unlike most books and articles, websites can present information and views that are usually able to bypass the judgment of discerning publishers, editors, and peer reviewers. Consequently, many historical sites are amateurish, polemical, and factually unreliable. As you do your research, keep a healthy skepticism about information that comes from the web.

4. Sources and Citations

Since this is an essay based on historical research, you must use footnotes. Do not use endnotes or parenthetic citations. You must also include a full bibliography at the end of the essay with primary and secondary sources listed separately. In your footnotes you should provide a full citation when you first refer to a source and then an abbreviated citation for every subsequent reference to that source. There are several different styles of footnoting and you may choose whichever one you want, but be consistent. You must account for all your sources, even quotations from one author embedded in the writing of another. If you have any questions about proper citation practices please speak with the instructor or consult the College's Academic Integrity Policy and The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) for further guidance.

In addition to books, academic journals often contain the most recent research and developments within specialized fields of study. JSTOR and other electronic journal databases will prove useful in identifying scholarly articles relevant to your topic. Current and recent volumes of the following journals are maintained on the shelves in Watzek Library and may also prove useful in your research for this project:

American Historical Review
British Journal for the History of Science
Commonwealth and Comparative Politics
Diaspora (Journal of Transnational Studies)
Economic History Review
English History Review
Historical Research
Foreign Affairs
Indian Economic and Social History Review
Journal of Asian Studies
Journal of British Studies
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Journal of Modern History
Journal of Social History
Modern Asian Studies
Past & Present
Postcolonial Studies
South Asia Research
Twentieth-century British History
Victorian Studies

The Bibliography of Imperial, Colonial, and Commonwealth History since 1600, edited by Andrew Porter (Oxford University Press/Royal Historical Society, 2002) and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2003) are also excellent resources. These are kept in the reference section of Watzek Library.

5. Peer Review of Thesis Drafts

In preparation for the peer review sessions you must distribute copies of your draft (including all footnotes and the bibliography) to each of your student readers and the instructor. You must also collect thesis drafts from each of your peer group members.

Before the session you must read each draft carefully while making detailed comments. These may relate to organization, strength and originality of the argument, use of evidence, presentation of existing historiography, writing style, usage, grammar, punctuation, and citation of sources, among other points. Of course, it should be understood that these are rough drafts and therefore still works in progress. Nevertheless, the thoroughness and care that you offer in your constructive criticism will be valuable to other thesis writers. Going through this process will likewise be helpful to you as you finish your own theses. The timely submission of the draft is a requirement of the course, but the draft itself is not a graded assignment.

When we meet in our groups, we will move through each draft one by one and each reader will briefly offer his or her impressions, questions, or suggestions. Each student will collect his or her draft copies (with comments) at the end of the class.

The first draft of the thesis for peer review is due in class on Thursday, 14 November

6. Final Thesis

Your thesis should be 25-30 pages of text and based original research. The narrative of your paper (the presentation of facts or historical chronology) should be structured around the main objective: namely to present an original argument, theory, or analysis that is supported by a critical approach to your sources. Keep in mind that you are writing your thesis mainly for yourself rather than for your instructor. Pick a topic in which you are truly interested and that you think is important for your own understanding of 20th-century Britain and/or its empire. Your choice of topic should allow you to exercise your skills and enthusiasm as an historian to your best ability.

Research for the paper should center on a range of primary sources (original documents or materials from the period that have not been interpreted or edited by other scholars) as well as drawing upon a variety of secondary sources (books or articles written about your subject). While the primary sources should be the focus of your argument, the secondary sources will help you get a sense of how your argument compares to those of other scholars. As you begin your research you might consult the Watzek Library History Research Guide. Additionally, the final version of your thesis must conform to the following specifications:

All pages of text must be double-spaced using a standard font (the most common is Times New Roman, 12-point font size). Images and the bibliography do not count toward these page limits.
Pages must be numbered. If you include a separate title page (optional) this page should not be numbered. Page 1 is the first page of text.
Margins should be 1" at top and bottom and can be either 1" or 1.25" at left and right (the former will give you more space for text).
The bibliography should list primary and secondary sources separately. As you know, this distinction is not always clear so this may involve some judgment calls on your part.
Bibliography entries should be single-spaced and all lines after the first line of an entry must be indented 0.5"
Quotations longer than 3 lines or 30 words (whichever is longer) should be inserted as block quotations. The entire block quotation is single spaced and set in from the left margin 0.5" (the same as the indentation of a new paragraph). Block quotations do not need quotation marks.
All citations must be footnoted. All footnotes must be single-spaced and may be between 11- and 12-point font size. The first mention of a source requires a full citation while mention of that same source in subsequent footnotes should be given an abbreviated citation.
Section headings within the body of the thesis should be in bold or italics so that they stand out from the text.

In writing and revising your essay you should consult the History Department Writing Guidelines and Grading Standards. Additionally, you might find a visit to the Lewis & Clark Writing Center and the following reference works helpful:

The Chicago Manual of Style (17th Edition)
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: A Guide

Finally, be sure to edit and proofread your paper thoroughly before submitting it. Poor syntax or structure and excessive errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar will lower your grade.

The final version of the thesis is due at 5:00 pm on Thursday, 12 December.

Panoramic view of North bank of the River Thames, London

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated February 2016