Senior Seminar

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 limits 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 or questions you (and your potential readers) want


    1. Begin by making a list of all the possible topics 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 topics 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 everything 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, then 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
        September 2007.

     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 his/her 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 instructor, 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 instructor, a revised Statement of Topic and
        Annotated Bibliography will be prepared and turned in on 09 October 2007; it will include:

        a 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.
  11. Save all your assignments for your paper.  Due on 29 November 2007 is a comprehensive course portfolio
        (see #2 on the Course Information handout for its contents).

  12. For additional help, consult Bowdoin College’s on-line guide to writing and research in History

 Senior Seminar

 Format for the Statement of Topic and Annotated Bibliography on
 [Your Topic]

The Statement of Topic
1. A precise statement of the topic and preliminary thesis (about one paragraph).

2. The historical questions to be answered.

3. A statement of the topic’s importance.

4. The historical method (narrative, comparison/contrast, etc.)

The Annotated Bibliography
I. Primary Sources.

II.  Secondary Sources.

A. Books.

B. Articles in Scholarly Journals.

III. Internet Resources.

IV. Indexes/Research Aids Consulted.

This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown
Last Update:  25.VII.2007.

Return to the HST 451 Homepage.