Introduction to the Study of History

Discussion Questions 2

The Analysis of a Student Research Paper

Part I: Writing about History

Assignment: Read Rampolla, pp. 43-68 and Dick Curry's "Woodrow Wilson's Attitudes Toward Black Americans". Answer the following questions in writing, and be prepared to discuss your answers in class. Use the paragraph and page numbers when providing examples or evidence.  Your answers will be collected and graded.

1. How does the author introduce the essay? What sentence or sentences near the beginning of the paper reveal the author's thesis, the main argument or idea of the paper? Give specific examples.

2. Where does the author make inferences? In other words, where does he draw conclusions from the evidence he has presented? Where does he make suggestions about the meaning of various texts when the meaning in the text is not evident? Give at least two specific examples.

3. Where are the narrative (a story or account of events) paragraphs in the essay? Give at least two specific examples.

4. Where are the expository (explanations and analyses) paragraphs in the essay? Give at least two specific examples.

5. How does the author make a transition from one section of the essay to another? Give at least two specific examples.

6. Make an outline of the essay and give each section a title appropriate to its content.

7. Where are the arguments in the essay? Give at least two specific examples.

8. Where does the author make his own judgments clear? Give specific examples.

9. How does the author conclude the essay? Why does the essay's conclusion echo some ideas in the opening section?

10. Give two examples of effective topic sentences. Are there other sentences that are particularly well written? Give examples.

11. Imagine you are the instructor who assigned this paper; give the paper a letter grade (A to F) and justify your grade with specific examples from the paper.


Part II: Quoting and Documenting Sources.

Assignment: Read Rampolla, pp. 88-95 and 96-120, and Dick Curry's "Woodrow Wilson's Attitudes Toward Black Americans". Answer the following questions in writing, and be prepared to discuss your answers in class. Use the paragraph and page numbers when providing examples or evidence. Your answers will be collected and graded.

1. How does the author use quotations? How often does he use block quotations? Why? Why does the author often use shorter quotations? When is it appropriate to quote using block or shorter quotations? How does the author introduce each quotation? Give specific examples for each question.

2. Where does the author paraphrase rather than quote? When and why is it more appropriate to paraphrase than to quote? Give an example of a paraphrase.

3. What is the format of the footnotes? In what order is the information in the citation presented?  Are there errors in the footnotes?  Give specific examples.

4. Where in the essay does the author use primary sources? Where did he find these primary sources? Give at least two specific examples.  Give examples of problematic use of primary sources.

5. Where does the author use secondary sources? Give examples of where he agrees or disagrees with these secondary sources.

6. How is the format of the bibliography different from that of the footnotes? In what order is the information presented?  Refer to Rampola for documentation models.

[Some of these questions are based on those found in Richard Marius, A Short Guide to Writing About History (New York: Longman, 1999): 135)]



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Last Update: 03.I.2008

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