Research preparation exercise

This exercise is designed to promote productive discussion and advising about your paper. It does not have to be very long: usually 200-400 words will suffice. Much of what you write here can be reused in your final draft.


Your Name:

Title of Paper:

Research Question (Please formulate this as a question. In some cases, it may be highly advisable for students to give multiple questions or to note multiple observations about the material).

Then these three sections:


I. Paragraph (“Abstract”)
Thesis Sentence (Compose a sentence or two—usually 25 to 50 words—which gives an overview of your answer to the question. This forms the thesis sentence of the Abstract). In general, a thesis statement is one that reasonable people might argue about—until they read your paper and find out you have shown it is correct (or unsubstantiated) beyond a reasonable doubt. If your thesis statement is too obvious, or not worth arguing about, think about why it is significant and then rewrite it.


Paragraph: Write a paragraph which continues from the thesis sentence, outlining the scope of your paper, the type of readership audience (in some cases, it may be necessary to clarify whether this is a study of literary sources, a historical work, uses anthropological measurements, or whatever), the goal, purpose, types of primary and secondary resources, proposed contents of paper, likely findings and the likely significance.


II. Bibliography:  
For this section, discuss five resources you have already examined, and show how these resources relate to the thesis statement or the theme of your paper.


Select a list of at least five resources. Ideally, you should have both primary sources and academic analyses of these sources among the five. There should be examples of at least three of the following: primary sources, textbooks, reference works (such as encyclopedias or dictionaries), Internet, published articles or chapters in multi-author works, books specifically on your topic, and books on other subjects in which your topic is addressed. Unless the entire book or article is clearly relevant to your research, indicate the pages in which there is material relevant to your project.


For each resource, find the author’s perspective on your topic, or a significant comment related to your topic. You may write it up by beginning with the scholar’s name and "asserts" or "thinks" or "interprets" for each one, and a very brief quote (one sentence maximum). Give the exact page on which the quote occurs.  Paraphrase, summarize or explain the rest of what the author has to say as succinctly as you can, and contrasting his or her approach or conclusions with those of other authors. Limit your comments to two to four sentences per book. You can write this as a connected essay or as comment about each resource.


This section should not talk about what you “plan to read” or examine, although you can mention these here or in the “paragraph” section of this exercise.  It is usually useful to include in this exercise a longer bibliography including the resources discussed in this section and others you plan to use, and/or a longer review (180 words) of a book. Please do so if either or both are required by the instructor.


III. Main Points:
List up four or five main points you believe the paper will demonstrate. In some cases these will conform to the sub-sections of your paper, although this will not always be the case. Write these as sentences, not bullet points or outline titles.