Thomas Jefferson

HIS 102 Research Paper Assignment
Your research paper for this class will be based on a historical figure of your choice.  You may pick any person who falls within the scope of the course-that means it must be a figure from the Western world (Europe or America) who lived from 1789 until the present time.  This gives you a wide variety of people to pick from, so pick someone who interests you. 
While this paper is based on a person, it should NOT be solely the story of their life from birth to death, but should make an argument that focuses on the historical events that affected their lives, and the events that they affected.  For example, if you chose former US president Ronald Reagan as your topic, you should spend very little time talking about his early life and career as a Hollywood actor, and more discussing his entry into politics, the changes in his political opinions, how he got elected president, and how his presidency affected, not only the US, but the world.  Remember when beginning to write your paper that this course covers the history of dozens of nations.  We will be discussing how events in one nation affect other nations, so you should also use this type of international perspective when considering the significance of your chosen figure. 
The purpose of this assignment is not only for you to learn about a historical figure and time period in a more in-depth fashion than we will be able to do in class, but also for you to improve your writing skills, research skills, and ability to analyze information and create an argument. 
In addition to the final paper you will be expected to turn in a topic and brief bibliography of at least five sources which you intend to use in writing your paper. This will be 15% of the total grade for the paper, but the grade is participation only-meaning that if you turn in something, ANYTHING, by the given deadline, you will receive full credit.
Your final paper will be graded on four major criteria:
Thesis: This is the argument of your paper.  Does the paper have a strong thesis statement at the beginning? Is the argument addressed throughout the paper? Does the conclusion appropriately address the thesis?
Content: Does the paper contain good information?  Does it contain all the major events of itssubjects life, and does it place these events in the appropriate historical context? Does it demonstrate a clear understanding of the subjects historical importance? Are the sources used good sources, and are they used well?
Style: Is the paper well written?  Is it appropriately cited? Is it well organized?
Mechanics: Does the paper have correct spelling and good grammar?
This is a research paper, therefore you are required to have AT LEAST five sources-books or articles-upon which your paper will be based.  Your textbook does not count as one of these sources, although it is a good starting place.  ALL of your sources must be PRINT.  This means you may use nonfiction books, and articles from newspapers and peer-reviewed journals.  You may use articles that come from the internet IF they have a print source.  This means that you could go to the library and find them in a book, magazine, journal, or newspaper if you needed to.  You may NOT use websites as sources.  You may NOT use encyclopedias of any kind-print or digital.  Your list of sources must be turned in along with your topic for approval by me.  You should begin your research as soon as possible, because it may take more time than you think it will!  I encourage you to ask your librarians for help.  Even if you are familiar with the process of research, it is likely they know something that will help you out.  I am also always available to you for help. 
The Trident Tech library subscribes to several online databases of scholarly journals, which can be found on the librarys website and accessed either from a school computer or from off campus.  JSTOR is a good database to use for this assignment unless you have a strong preference for another.  Keep in mind that all databases do not focus on historical journals; Academic Search Premier is another decent one that you may use.  The TTC librarys database page can be found at
 The articles you find on a database like Academic Search Premier or JSTOR are a good example of articles you can find using online resources that have print sources, and are therefore acceptable for this assignment. As a Trident Tech student you are also allowed to use the resources of the libraries at the Citadel and the College of Charleston, as well as the Charleston County public library. Their websites can give you an idea of the resources that are available to you at each one.
Citations and Plagiarism
Please remember that this is a research paper, and all assertions, ideas, and facts that are not general knowledge must be supported by your sources.  The fact that World War I happened from 1914-1918 is general knowledge.  The fact that the war caused a shift in European society due to the death of most of a generation of young men is not, and must be supported by a citation.  Any information that you learned from a book or article MUST BE followed by a citation EVEN IF you are paraphrasing and not actively quoting from that work.  This means at MINIMUM one citation per paragraph since you should be conveying these authors ideas in your paper, and NOT your own.  Please remember that any ideas which are in your paper and are not your own must be cited, or they qualify as plagiarism. This includes ideas from sources in your Works Cited, things your friends told you, or wrote for you, stories that you heard on TV, ideas from Wikipedia, etc, etc. Any evidence of plagiarism in your papers will result in a failing grade and probably in other nasty disciplinary action.  Lots of pain and suffering for both of us, so write your own work, please. You have two choices of format for your citations.  MLA format requires internal citations in parentheses, consisting of the authors last name followed by the page number or numbers from which you took the information.  Like this (Smith, 63).  You may also use footnotes if you prefer, like this.[1]
If you are in doubt about the formatting of any part of your paper, including citations, stick to the MLA format, which can be acquired in print at any bookstore or online.  Some websites have portions of it online for free.  Here are a couple of good ones.
Your paper should be seven to ten pages in length.  That means a minimum of seven full pages, and a maximum of ten full pages.  It should have an introduction that includes your thesis statement, which is the statement of your argument, and then gives an overview of the argument you will make in your paper.  The body of your paper should discuss the evidence that you feel proves your argument.  The conclusion should then recap your argument.  The paper should be typed, double-spaced, in a normal font such as Times New Roman, Arial, etc, in 12-pt font with one inch margins.  The header at the top of the page should include your name, the class and section, and the date.  Your paper should have a title that in some way includes the name of your chosen historical figure.  The paper should include page numbers at the top right hand corner of the page.  As discussed above, all facts must be cited within your paper.  The last page of the paper should be a Woks Cited page, where you will list the full citations of each one of your sources in proper MLA fashion.  The Works Cited page does not count toward your page total.  Papers must be turned in BOTH in print to me in class on the due date AND to the dropbox on D2L that same day.  Late papers will be reduced by five points per day, up to a maximum of twenty points, and failure to turn in a paper in both formats will reduce the grade by ten points
Good luck, and remember that I am always available to help you get started and to answer any questions. 

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