Instructions for the Preparation of the
Statement of Topic and the Annotated Bibliography
Choosing a good topic for your essay is necessary work. A few preliminary suggestions are accordingly appropriate:
1. The topic must interest you and you should consider it important;
2. It must be limited; begin with a broad topic and narrow it down;
3. It must be feasible within the time
of this course and using local resources (libraries,
computer networks, and so on);
4. Primary sources for your topic must be available and you must be able to read them.
5. It must respond to a significant question
questions you (and your potential readers) want
1. Begin by making a list of all the possible
that occur to you. If you need help, skim a standard
American or World History survey text. Some texts have suggestions for research papers at the end
of each chapter; others have web sites with similar suggestions (type the title of the text into a search
engine like Google). Put down anything, from topics you would personally like to know more about to
topics you think you should know more about.
2. Group your potential topics (put similar
together, making perhaps a single topic that
includes others); then rank them in order of importance; your preferred topic should be first.
3. Think about your preferred topic: List
that you already know about it and the
questions about it that you would like to have answered.
4. Using both your knowledge and your questions,
write a rough draft of your topic statement.
Explain your subject clearly (including specific information regarding people, places, time frame, etc.)
and list the questions you want answered. Also explain why the topic is worth researching.
5. Use BraveWeb, the library, and other resources
to find out if primary and secondary materials are
available to get you started. You should find at least five items, including at least two primary sources.
Your list of sources must include some print sources
6. If adequate materials are available locally,
write a version of your topic statement following the
required format (see below) and turn it in to your instructor. These statements are due on 18
7. Topic statements will be returned on 20
September. Using your instructor's comments, revise your topic
statement so that it is suitable for presentation in class and bring with it your list of available materials. The
Oral Presentations will take place on 25-27 September 2007.
8. Each student will explain the subject of
topic to the class, list the questions to be
answered, indicate the historical method to be used, and discuss available sources. Class
members will be asked to help clarify the topic and the questions asked. If necessary, a private
conference with the instructor will be held.
9. When your topic has final approval from your
you are ready to begin your research and
the compilation of the Annotated Bibliography. For specific suggestions concerning the preparation
of an Annotated Bibliography, consult the guidelines in the handout on annotated bibliographies (also
posted on the web site for this course).
10. Using the suggestions from classmates and the
a revised Statement of Topic and
Annotated Bibliography will be prepared and turned in on 09 October 2007; it will include:
11. Save all your assignments for your paper. Due on 29 November 2007 is a comprehensive course portfolioa precise statement of the topic;
the questions to be answered;
a statement of the topic's importance;
the historical method;
the annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
12. For additional help, consult Bowdoin College’s on-line
to writing and research in History
Format for the Statement of Topic and
The Statement of Topic1. A precise statement of the topic and preliminary thesis (about one paragraph).The Annotated Bibliography
2. The historical questions to be answered.
3. A statement of the topic’s importance.
4. The historical method (narrative, comparison/contrast, etc.)I. Primary Sources.
II. Secondary Sources.A. Books.III. Internet Resources.
B. Articles in Scholarly Journals.
IV. Indexes/Research Aids Consulted.
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