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Formulating a Research Question 20 February 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Formulating a Research Question 20 February 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Formulating a Research Question 20 February 2008

2 Distinguishing Between Primary Sources and Secondary Sources What is a primary source? What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? What is a secondary source? Since you are expected to do original research, why is it important for you to have a solid basis in secondary sources? Since you are expected to do original research, why is it important for you to have a solid basis in secondary sources?

3 Broad Topic  Narrow Topic Keep reading secondary sources and see how these historians narrowed their topic (start with the general and move towards the specific) Keep reading secondary sources and see how these historians narrowed their topic (start with the general and move towards the specific) Write down any questions that may arise Write down any questions that may arise Always take thorough notes (including specific page numbers) Always take thorough notes (including specific page numbers) As you read, ask yourself: As you read, ask yourself: Why? Why? Is there change over time? Is there change over time?

4 Broad Topic  Narrow Topic Mindmap or outline sub-topics Mindmap or outline sub-topics Ask yourself: Ask yourself: Do I like this topic? Do I like this topic? Can I do this topic? Can I do this topic?

5 Developing a Research Question Three key elements of a research question: Three key elements of a research question: It must be specific It must be specific It must be clearly-worded and concise It must be clearly-worded and concise It should state a precise time period and location It should state a precise time period and location

6 Developing a Research Question Things to consider: Things to consider: Is this question relevant? Why should historians care? Is this question relevant? Why should historians care? Is your question feasible in terms of the time you can spend researching? Is your question feasible in terms of the time you can spend researching? Are there enough pertinent sources to answer this? Are there enough pertinent sources to answer this? Is the question clear, or are there multiple ways to construe it? Is the question clear, or are there multiple ways to construe it? Your thesis will be the answer to your research question Your thesis will be the answer to your research question

7 Sample Research Question “According to pro-slavery newspapers published in territorial Kansas, were all Northerners ‘crazy abolitionists’? If so, why did pro-slavery newspapermen think this way?”

8 Two Sample Theses #1) “Pro-slavery newspapers in territorial Kansas did depict all Northerners as ‘crazy abolitionists’.” #2) “Pro-slavery newspapers in territorial Kansas depicted all Northerners as ‘crazy abolitionists’ because pro-slavery settlers feared that, with more and more free-state settlers flooding into the territory, they would become the minority, leading them to adopt polarizing opinions as a way to defend their Southern way of life.”

9 Your Thesis Should… Answer your research question Answer your research question Be an emphatic statement Be an emphatic statement Be testable (i.e. be supported by evidence) Be testable (i.e. be supported by evidence)


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