THEORY OF HISTORY Spring 2016
RESEARCH PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS
Your final assignment for this course is to produce a Research Portfolio on a topic of your choosing. This
Research Portfolio is not a formal or complete research paper. Rather, it is intended to help you develop
the research, writing, and analytical skills you will need in order to develop a formal research paper in the
future. Once you have completed this portfolio, you will also have a good base of secondary and primary
sources to develop a future research paper.
Your completed Portfolio will consist of the following components:
o Introduction to your topic (200-250 words)
o Historio graphical Section (850-1,000 words)
o Primary Source Analysis Section (550-700 words)
o Conclusion and Areas for Further Research (150-200 words)
o Bibliography (must include 4 books, 2 articles, and 3 primary sources (of 3 different
The research portfolio should follow disciplinary expectations with regards to citations, footnotes,
etc. (Chicago style, Humanities format). It should also be well written, grammatically correct, and
copy-edited. Youre not writing a whole paper, but the portions you do write should follow the
conventions of formal historical writing. Dehydrated does not mean shorthand.
You do not need to create transitions between the subsections each portion of the Portfolio
should be its own piece of writing use subheadings to separate sections.
Introduction: Here, you will introduce your proposed research topic. You will provide a brief
overview of your proposed research topic, a concise summary of the relevant historiography, and
a short description of relevant primary sources.
Historiography Section: Unlike a research paper, your goal when writing about historiography is
not to recount information about a historical event or person. Rather, your goal is to analyze how
other historians have written about that topic. To do this, you will locate and read secondary
sources (books and articles) that have been written about a specific subject. You will then analyze
the diverse ways that different historians have written about and interpreted your topic,
comparing things like arguments, methods, theories, sources, and approaches. Your primary task
is not simply to analyze the various books and articles individually, but instead to try to put them
into conversation with one another.
Primary Source Analysis Section: Now that you have analyzed what OTHER historians have
said about your topic, it is time for you to offer your own interpretations about your subject. You
will do this by finding and analyzing 3 relevant primary sources. You must find three different
types of sources (i.e. political speech, diary entry, and newspaper article). What do these sources
tell you about the history of your subject? What do they show us that is new or interesting? How
do they help us understand the period better? These are some of the questions you will answer.
Conclusion: Here, you will conclude your Portfolio, summarizing its main points and proposing
areas for future research.
o Requirements for historiographical/secondary sources:
Unless you have received explicit approval from Dr. Fontaine, all of the books
for your historiography section must be published by a scholarly press and
written by professional historians. All of your articles must come from peerreviewed
All of your secondary books and articles must be written after 1975. You should
try to find a range of books and articles, from 1975 to the present.
o Requirements for primary sources:
You will be required to select and analyze three different types of primary
sources that are relevant to your proposed research.
o Formatting requirements for the Portfolio:
The various segments of the Research Portfolio have their own word counts.
Your final Portfolios will be between 1,700 and 2,200 words in length (not
including footnotes). At all stages, you will be penalized for writing too little or
You must footnote your sources. ALL references must adhere to the Chicago
Manual of Style. Online at:
Evaluation of your Research Portfolios:
o I will read, edit, and grade all of the draft segments of your Portfolio during the last two
weeks of the semester, and then will return them to you by the final class period to revise
during finals week.
o Your grades for the drafts will be based on the following criteria: your adherence to the
guidelines in the prompt above; your ability to write well and organize an essay clearly;
your ability to make an argument; and your ability to think critically. I will also give you
a Provisional Grade for the final Portfoliothis is the grade that you would receive if
you made no changes to the final Portfolio.
o Your grade for the final Portfolio will be based on the above
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