library research assignment world history humans and the environment
Library Research Assignment I introduction to the entire Library Research Project
this set of assignments includes 4 research/analysis components completed over the course of the semester that will culminate in a minimum 2000-word research essay in which you examine the historical roots of a contemporary issue of interest to you. Your instructor will designate specific deadlines and grade percentages and may adjust the schedule as s/he sees fit. In these four library research assignments, you will use WSU Libraries’ resources to:
Identify an issue of contemporary global significance of which you intend to explore the historical roots 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.
Critically analyze the sources that you gather and identify useful passages and information within.
Connect newly found sources to those you previously located.
Learn how to cite sources correctly according to historical disciplinary standards.
In Part I you will explore current newspaper and encyclopedia 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, centrally international (global) in scope, have historical dimensions you can analyze, and should also connect to one or more of the broader themes of this course (humans and the environment, globalization, inequality, diverse ways of thinking, and/or the roots of contemporary conflicts). You will conclude part one by developing two preliminary research questions based on the initial sources that you gather. After you’ve completed part one, your instructor and/or your teaching assistant will assess your choice of topic, your selection of sources, and your research questions. They will make comments and suggestions as necessary.
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.
Contact information: WSU Pullman | WSU Online Campus | WSU Vancouver | WSU Tri-Cities
Part I – Contemporary Newspapers and Encyclopedias (25 points)
Question 1 = Locate a Contemporary Documentary Source (Newspaper Article)
Since this course uses contemporary examples as starting points for understanding historical origins, you will also do this for your research paper. You will first find a contemporary issue or problem, something that the world is facing today. Newspapers are one gateway into a wide variety of contemporary issues. WSU Libraries provide access to a wide range of newspapers from around the world, both current and historical. Newspapers are a type of primary source and part of a larger category of sources called documentary sources that also includes popular magazines. Whether they are historical or contemporary, they are written at the time of an event or process and, when critically assessed, can provide insight into the goals or views of the author, the publication, or its readership. Many of these resources are available in electronic format, and much of the historical collection is in microfilm.
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 Lexis Nexis Academic (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]
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 (not footnotes) citation of one newspaper article (must be less than one year old) under a Question 1 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 16th edition of the Chicago Manual or in other ways is inaccurate.The article you find must come from a newspaper. Sources from places such as CNN.com, Foxnews.com, Huffpost, etc. will not be considered as viable newspaper articles.
Since you’re accessing your newspaper article online (and not in print), the citation should include a URL and “date accessed” (see the Chicago-style reference page). Note that you CANNOT simply cut and paste the URL from the browser’s address bar. From the record for the article, click on the Copy Document icon in the upper right (looks like a clipboard with a chain). Follow the instructions to get your URL.
Question 2 = State Your Topic and How it Connects to Course Theme
Begin your work in a Word document. You will upload your Word document once you have completed all steps.
Based on the contemporary newspaper you found, begin thinking about how you can dig into the past as a way to understand how that current event began, changed, or took shape. What particular and specific historical topic does your contemporary issue reflect? Think through your ideas carefully before writing, and remember that in the final paper you will turn it at the end of the course, you must be able to trace the historical roots of this topic back to at least 1950. Also, your project cannot be narrowly focused on the United States, but may seek to understand the role of the United States in the world.
Don’t be vague and say that you want to write 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 apartheid and inequality.
This course employs five broad themes common to all who live in contemporary global society and those who have lived in centuries past. They are: humans and the environment, “our shrinking world”, inequality, diverse ways of thinking, and conflict. Below your stated research topic, explain how at least 2 of these themes can help you frame and contextualize your chosen topic.
Clearly distinguish the two parts of this question by specifying “1A- Research Topic:” and “1B- Connection to Course Themes:” and be sure to provide around 10 sentences total to illustrate full reflection upon the “course themes” part of the question.
Question 3 = Locate a Specialized Encyclopedia Entry
Now that you’ve identified a global topic of contemporary relevance, it is time to begin uncovering the historical roots of your issue. There are many ways to begin a research project, but if you know little or nothing about the history of an issue, often the best place to begin is with an overview article of the topic. Encyclopedias are excellent places to locate such articles. Encyclopedia articles contain an overview of important facts and often a list of recommended readings. In other words, they are a window into a research topic, but because they are not based on the author’s original research, they are not appropriate as a main source.
A common assumption about academic encyclopedias is that they are freely available in electronic form on the Internet. They are not. For example, Wikipedia is not an academic encyclopedia. Though the folks at Wikipedia do attempt to implement standards of credibility, anyone can freely create or edit a Wikipedia entry. So for academic research like the kind you are doing here, Wikipedia will not stand. In addition, sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica will not be accepted. Instead, you are asked to find an article from a specialized, scholarly encyclopedia. The WSU Libraries have access to several such electronic encyclopedia databases and many, many more encyclopedias in print.
You have a number of options for locating an encyclopedia entry; see the Part I: Finding Specialized Encyclopedia Entries Instructions library research guide for instruction.
The Chicago style link above does not contain an example of citations for Encyclopedia articles. Sage Knowledge and Oxford Reference will provide you with a preview of the bibliographic Chicago style citation. Do not use these citations however, as they are missing key components. Instead, follow this example: Runyan, William McKinley. “Henry Alexander Murray.” In New Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Noretta Koertge. New York: Charles Scribener’s Sons, 2007.
Because you found this encyclopedia article in an online database, you should include the URL and date accessed at the end of the citation, just as you did for the newspaper article above.
Question 4 = Write Two Preliminary Research Questions
Typically, once researchers have read and analyzed several sources (like you’ve just done), they formulate a set of preliminary research questions that they hope to answer by the end of their research. Often in the course of a longer project as this is, research questions change, and almost always new questions arise. As the last part of your Word document for LRA I, formulate two clear and concise research questions (label them as QA and QB) based on your analysis of your contemporary newspaper article, your encyclopedia entry, and the theme(s) of the course that you identified earlier. Do not be vague by saying something like: “What are the historical roots of my contemporary issue?” But, be sure your questions address the historical roots of your topic.Read the Part I: Writing Research Questions and Part I: Roots Research Question Example research guides to aid you in the process of writing your research questions.
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