contemporary primary source


In Research Assignment #1, you used a contemporary primary source (a newspaper article) to help select and learn about your chosen issue of contemporary relevance. You analyzed this source, learned how to properly cite it, and used it to create initial an research question. While your contemporary newspaper article may have offered some historical perspective, it is unlikely that that perspective was either deep or detailed. Thus, in research assignment #2, you will begin to conduct deeper research using different kinds of sources.

You will begin to investigate the historical roots of the contemporary issue you’ve selected using secondary sources. More specifically, you will locate two monographs (full-length books) and two scholarly journal articles.

After you’ve completed Research Assignment #2, you will receive feedback that will help you to reassess your topic in light of your monograph/article selections and annotations, and to revise your research question in light of these new sources.

Research Assignment #2 – Secondary Source Analysis: Monographs and Scholarly Articles

Question 1 – Monographs (25/75 pts)

As you might imagine, monographs (books) are considerably longer and often more broadly focused than newspaper articles.

Perform a search in Search It (WSU’s central book database). Type in keyword(s) or phrase(s) in the search box. If we take the topic identified in sample RA 1, for example, we might use a search string like this: Guatemala* AND histor* AND violence.

Refine your results to “Print Books” or “eBooks” (see left side limiters). Either print or eBooks are acceptable for this assignment, but do not simply choose one. Perform your search using each limiter to obtain the most appropriate titles.

If you are retrieving too many irrelevant books, change your search from “Any” to “in the title” in the advanced search interface. IMPORTANT: Your book must centrally address pre-1990 history related to your topic and research question(s). That said, it is often (but not always) the case that the most recently published books on a given topic will be the most useful.

*Search It contains 100s of millions of records. It labels a large amount of its holdings as “books” even though many are not technically books. Books, as appropriate for this assignment, include (but are not limited to) items published by popular or university presses. Avoid items published by government agencies (considered primary sources), unpublished dissertations, materials available on microform, and material labeled “Text Resources.” [see Part II: Database Specific Video Tutorials] Additionally, you should also avoid tertiary sources, including encyclopedias or handbooks.

Start a heading: “Q1 – Monographs.”

In your Research Assignment #2 Word doc under Question 1, provide the correct Chicago-style bibliographic citation for two topically relevant books. Note the citation differences between single- and multi-authored books.

If you’re going to use books for research, then simply having records and brief descriptions won’t be sufficient. You will need to obtain physical copies of the books themselves, unless you find appropriate ebooks.

Under each book citation (1A and 1B), enter the library location (e.g., Holland/Terrell Libraries) and call number (e.g., HD34 .B338) for your two books from the “Available at” information bar or under the “Availability and Request Options” link. Also, enter the Permalink URL for your book (Go to “Availability and Request Options” > “Actions” > “Permalink”). For electronic books, only enter the Permalink URL only (“Access Options > “Actions” > “Permalink”).  In your RA2 Word doc, enter “requested book through interlibrary loan” if you ordered your book through Summit or ILLiad and it consequently does not have a local library location and call number. Also, enter the Permalink URL for your ordered book (Go to “Availability and Request Options” > “Actions” > “Permalink”).  If you need help with any of these processes, please consult the Part II: Tips and Ideas for Finding Books in Search It library guide.

Question 2 – Historical Scholarly Journal Articles (25/75 pts)

All disciplines have any number of monthly- or seasonally-published journals in which scholars publish “scholarly articles,” which are considered secondary sources in the humanities. Often, these scholarly articles are peer-reviewed, meaning other scholars read and evaluate them before they are published. This process of evaluation ensures that the journal publishes only top-quality research in the field. All peer-reviewed journals are considered scholarly, but many scholarly publications do not incorporate a peer-review process for article selection. Whether peer-reviewed or not, scholarly (also referred to as academic) journals are often a central place to gather secondary sources on a topic.

In order to uncover the historical origins of your contemporary issue, it will likely be useful to use databases that house historical journals. One such database is JSTOR, which contains a wide range of history journals, and also published primary source materials, some of which date back to the 19th century. Another is Project Muse, which also includes a number of scholarly journals that publish in the fields of literature, American studies, education, and ethnic studies. [see Part II: Database Specific Video Tutorials]

Using JSTOR and/or Project Muse, locate TWO scholarly articles published in (a) history journal(s) in the last 20 years that can help you learn about the historical roots of your contemporary issue. Consult the Part II: Specifics for Using JSTOR and Project Muse library guide for help.

Most likely you will find relevant articles in either JSTOR or Project Muse. But, if not, you can also search Historical Abstracts for your history journal articles.

Start a new heading: “Q2 – Journal Articles.”

Using proper Chicago-style full bibliographic citations (these are the unnumbered examples in the Chicago-style guide), cite two topically-relevant scholarly journal articles.

Question 3 – Revising Your Research Question(s) (25/675 pts)

Start a new heading: “Q3 – Revised Question.”

Go back to Research Assignment #1 and cut and paste your original research question(s) under Question 3 so that you have it/them on hand. Also, copy any comments from your instructor. Then write a more refined single research question – likely based on feedback received. Your revised question might combine elements of your previous questions, refine only one of the previous questions (dropping the other), or take the topic in a new direction in light of the secondary sources you’ve located. If you substantially changed your topic, be sure to explain.

"Is this question part of your assignment? We can help"