This is the "Selecting Topics" page of the "HIST 17B Honors (Buller)" guide.
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HIST 17B Honors (Buller)  

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Selecting Topics Print Page

Suggested Readings by Eric Foner

If you are really interested in topics from a particular chapter, checkout the "Suggested Reading" at the end of Foner's textbook.  Here is a sampling of available books at Cabrillo:

From Chapter 16

Main Stacks -  E78.G67 B53 2006
  Main Stacks -  F785.M5 D48 1987

From Chapter 17

  Main Stacks -  F215 .W85 1951

Selecting a Topic: Strategies

Finding the perfect research topic.

Research is an iterative process -- you search, and then you re-search. You may know what you want to write about , at least in a general way. But a topic for a research paper must be the "right size." Too broad-- you get lost in generalizations. Too narrow-- you cannot find sufficient information.

With a broad topic in mind, here are a few ways to narrow (limit) your topic:

  • Location
  • Time Span/Era
  • Particular Event
  • Specific Group

Also, you can ask the questions of: who, what, where, when, and how variety. (The who, what, where, and when are usually easy; the how questions are often hard.)
Fact questions For example: What were working conditions like in textile factories in the late 19th century?
Probing questions For example: To what extent did Susan B. Anthony’s Quaker upbringing and Abolitionist work contribute to her sense of the injustice toward women?
Contrasting questions For example: Many American veterans from the Vietnam War returned with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities.  What lessons did we learn about the Vietnam Era Veterans treatment and how does it compare to returning veterans from the Iraq War?  How was the soldiers’ homecoming from Vietnam War different from the soldiers returning from the Iraq War?

Also, use background sources help you narrow and focus your interests.

from: Topsy Smalley


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