Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic. New York

Writing your research proposal

[one-two pages]

Your research proposal must contain three sections: a tentative thesis, a plan of development, and an annotated bibliography of at least three sources.

Section 1:  You should begin with an introductory section clarifying why you want to do research on the topic you have picked, what your actual thesis will be, and how you intend to proceed in organizing your paper (basically a description of your outline).  This section might have several paragraphs.

Section 2: You then need a section containing your annotated bibliography.  This is an annotated list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) used for researching a topic.

An annotated bibliography includes a summary, assessment, and reflection of each of the sources.  To understand this, consider the following descriptions:

Ø  Summarize: What are the main arguments in the source?  What is the point of this book or article?  What topics are covered in it?  If someone were to ask you what the article/book is about, what would you say?

Ø  Assess:  After summarizing the source, evaluate it.  Is it a useful source?  How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?  Is the information reliable?  Is it biased or objective?  What is the goal of the source?

Ø  Reflect:  How does this source fit into your research?  How was it helpful to you, and how does it help to shape your approach to the topic you have chosen?  Has it changed the way you think about your topic?

Remember:  The bibliographic information of the source itself (title, author, publisher or website, date, etc.) must conform to MLA format (see ).

Here is an example of an annotated reference.  First, you will list the source in bold print, as shown below:

Gilligan, James. Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic.  New York:  Vintage Books, 1997.

·  Paragraph 1: Under the source you will first offer a brief summary of what this book says about your topic.

·  Paragraph 2:  You will then explain how this source is appropriate to your research and offer some criticisms of it.  Does it seem like a reliable and current source?  Why?  Is the research objective or biased?  Are the facts well documented?  Is the author qualified?  Is the book scholarly, popular, or both?

·  Paragraph 3:  After summarizing and assessing, you can reflect on this source.  How does it fit into your research?  Is it helpful?  Too scholarly?  Not scholarly enough?  Too general or specific?  Has it helped you to narrow your topic?

Important:  In this proposal, include three sources only.  (For your actual research paper, you should increase the number of sources as needed).  Use three sources of different types, for example one book, one article, one website.  Cite each one correctly according to MLA format.

Section 3:  Write a brief conclusion to your proposal, in which you can comment on difficulties you are having and ways you might seek additional help.

Guidelines for Research Paper:

Assignment description:

For this assignment, I would like each one of you to propose a topic that you would like to find out more about. Your topic should be somehow related to one of our subthemes. For instance, you may want to find out more about the Rwanda genocide or the long and brutal war in Liberia and Sierra Leone or the so-called partition of India. Or you may want to focus on the Belgian colonization of the Congo and/or its aftermath. Or you may decide to research the life and deeds of Thomas Sankara, whom I am sure not many of you have heard of before. Or you may want to focus on immigration (to the US or elsewhere) and explore how this topic is related to some of the topics we have been discussing. You can also choose a topic of your own, as long as it is approved by me.

Note that you must send me a short proposal (one-two pages) with an annotated bibliography at least one month before this assignment is due. See below.


·  The paper must be 8-10 pages (2000-2500 words).

·  You must use at least six sources, only two of which can be course readings and two more can be online or Internet-based (with the exception of journal articles). In other words, at least two of your sources must be independently researched books, book chapters, or scholarly articles.

·  Do not use Wikipedia as one of your sources. You should feel free to read Wikipedia for information and ideas, but if you want to quote and/or paraphrase, you should go to the original source(s).

·  The essay must be typed and double-spaced in 12-point font.

·  Use MLA style. See

Useful reference sources:

· (on Blackboard)

·  Writing for Success, Chapter 9: “Writing Essays: From Start to Finish” (on Blackboard)

·  Writing for Success, Chapter 11: “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” (on Blackboard)

course readings: (ONLY USE 2)

Amartya Sen_ Identity and Violence. The Illusion of Destiny




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