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Research Essay Proposal and Bibliography
First World War is a great war which has become a landmark in world history. World
War I began in 1914 June after the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. While the conflict was
between the Kingdom of Serbia and the Austria-Hungary, the war escalated to include the major
alliances (Tucker 2013). The Triple Alliance comprising of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy
fought against the Allies comprising of France, Russia, and Britain who joint the war to support
Serbia. The war involved 70 million military personnel drawn from Europe, Asia, India, and
Africa. WWI came to an end on 11 November 1918 (Hardach 1981).
Various scholars have noted several individuals who played different roles from the
initiation, progression to termination of the war. The major icons in the war include political
leaders such as Georges Clemenceau, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, and Kaiser Wilhelm
II; Generals such as Erich Ludendorff, John J. Pershing, Marshal Phillipe, and Alfred von
Tirpitz; Soldiers such as Baron Manfred, T. E. Lawrence, Wilfred Owen, and Rupert Brooke;
and Non-Combatants such as Nurse Edith Cavell, Bertrand Russell, and Vera Brittain (MELVIN
A topic which interests me most in the World War I is the participation of women either
directly or indirectly. Over the past number of years, women have been perceived to be weak
and inferior compared to men. Because of this perception, most women have been neglected in
terms of their rights, educational wise and given no roles in the society. The World War I history
is of no exception, the role played by women is not captured clearly in the history of the war.
It is noted that the majority of the highlighted participants were men. The question that
comes up is, what was the role of women in the war? Their roles seem to have not been
recognized though they are capable of various roles such as leaders, generals, soldiers, and nonCombatants.
It is in my interest to identify these roles played in the World War I and defend women
on their rights. It will be a question to deliberate on because a majority of men believe that
women should not be allocated leadership roles, a stereotypical thought. From the research, I
will be able to support that women may have been neglected from the World War I, but its due
time to remove the notion of gender biases and give them an opportunity in the society.
The following scholarly sources will be used in establishing the roles of women in the
World War I;
Atwood, Kathryn. Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies,
and Medics. Chicago Review Press, 2014.
Braybon, Gail. Women Workers in the First World War. Routledge, 2012.
Brown, Carrie. Rosie’s mom: forgotten women workers of the First World War. Upne, 2002.
Cobbs, Elizabeth. “Fighting on Two Fronts: World War One, Women’s Suffrage, and John
Pershing’s” Hello Girls”.” South Central Review 34, no. 3 (2017): 31-47.
Gavin, Lettie. American women in World War I: They also served. University Press of Colorado,
Grayzel, Susan R. Women and the First World War. Routledge, 2013.
Zeinert, Karen. Those extraordinary women of World War I. Twenty-First Century Books,
Hardach, Gerd. 1981. The First World War, 1914-1918. Univ of California Press,.
MELVIN, E. 2011. “The First World War: A Concise Global History.
Tucker, Spencer C. 2013. The European powers in the First World War: an encyclopedia.
You present an ambitious plan to survey womenâ??s roles generally, and you have identified a
number of excellent sources in your bibliography. I would suggest examining a more specific
aspect of womenâ??s wartime experiences (such as their roles in the armed forces, in espionage or
other clandestine activities, or their roles in home front industries).
Research Essay Instructions
In terms of format it should be 6 to 8 double- spaced typed pages in length, not counting title
page, bibliography, and footnotes or endnotes. It should feature 1-inch (2.54 cm) margins and
the font should be set in Times New Roman at 12-point size. Please include a title page and
number the pages of your essay.
In researching your essay, you are expected to demonstrate use of a minimum of four
published scholarly sources (books and academic journal articles). At least two of these four
sources should be books. The use of these sources must be demonstrated in your citations and
bibliography. Of course, you are strongly encouraged to use more sources and broaden the
scope of your research.
You may make limited use of your textbook as an additional source of information. But your
textbook will not be counted among the minimum number of published sources you are required
to consult. Reference works, such as specialist encyclopedias, dictionaries, and companions
found in the libraryâ??s non-circulating reference collection also will not be counted among your
minimum number of published sources. These reference works are helpful starting points in
your research, but they are not to be used as your main sources of information. You are
permitted to cite specific information from them in your essay, but you must not base the
majority of your research on them.
Nonspecialist references such as Wikipedia must not be cited in your final essay or listed in your
bibliography. Like the more specialized reference works noted above, they may be helpful
starting points that can help orient you to a topic and lead you to more in-depth scholarly
resources. But such nonspecialist references must not be used for more than that.
There are certain scholarly internet sources that are far more helpful, and some may be
essential for your research. Many academic journals now feature abstracts and full-text
versions of articles on the Internet. You can explore such resources through the links available
on theLibrary home page for journals and article databases. Also, there is a growing number
of scholarly books available in full-text electronic format through Novanet, the libraryâ??s online
catalogue. You may include on-line full-text scholarly journal articles among your
minimum number of sources for the essay, as well as electronic books available through
Use the lists of suggested readings and endnote citations found at the end of each chapter in
your textbook in order to locate possible sources for your research.
NOTE: You MUST acknowledge the sources of all ideas expressed in your essay that are not
common knowledge or based upon your own personal knowledge. Acknowledgement must
take the form of footnotes or endnotes. This is in accordance with the notes and bibliography
style of citation as demonstrated in the Chicago Manual of Style. Footnotes are placed at the
bottom of each page of your essay. They should be numbered sequentially throughout the
essay. Endnotes are placed sequentially in a single section at the end of your essay (before
your bibliography). The formatting conventions for footnotes and endnotes are identical. For
further information on usage of footnotes or endnotes, see the History Departmentâ??s online
â??Style Manualâ? (link provided below).
Your essay also must include a bibliography listing all works cited within your essay. Do not list
sources in your bibliography if you did not demonstrate use of them in your footnotes or
For examples on how to format and punctuate footnotes (or endnotes) and bibliography
references, see the â??Style Manual for Papers in Historyâ?
Students are responsible for adhering to the formatting conventions demonstrated in the
departmentâ??s Style Manual. If you have any questions or concerns about citing sources or
compiling a bibliography, please see your instructor.
Additional Hints for Writing History Essays1
I. Developing a Thesis
A good history essay should be analytical in nature. It should attempt to solve a problem or
answer a question.
It is not enough to write a narrative simply describing what happened. Your essay should
express a clear point of view, or a thesis.
A thesis and a topic are not the same things.
The thesis of your research essay will tell the reader something about your chosen topic.
A thesis statement is the central point of your essay, the one to which all other information
in your essay relates. Mary Lynn Rampolla provides a good description of the main
attributes of a thesis. According to Rampolla:
A thesis is not a description of the topic, a statement of fact, a question, or an
opinion, although it is sometimes confused with all of these things. Rather, a
thesis is a statement that reflects what the author has concluded about the
topic under consideration in the paper, based on a critical analysis of the
source materials he or she has examined. A thesis informs the reader about
the conclusions the author has reached. Moreover, a thesis is always an
arguable or debatable point. In fact, the purpose of a history paper is to
present the reader with enough evidence to convince him or her that the
authorâ??s thesis is correct.2
Adapted from various instructions and ideas provided by Carina Montgomery in the Department of History at the
University of Calgary.
Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, third edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martinâ??s, 2001), p.
In your finished essay, your thesis must be supported by arguments based on evidence that
you learn from your sources. Evidence, and the arguments based on it, should be arranged
and presented in as convincing a fashion as possible so as to persuade your reader of the
validity of your thesis â?? rather like a lawyer arguing a case in court.
As such, a thesis statement in a history essay is best presented in the essayâ??s introduction.
Your reader then knows immediately what the essay is about, where you are going with it,
and what conclusion you have drawn from your research.
Not only does the thesis serve as a focal point for your reader, but also it makes life easier
for you, the writer. It is the center that holds your entire essay together.
II. Finding and Using Sources
a) Primary sources
– These are sources that were produced by people who lived during the time period you are
– Primary sources include published or unpublished personal journals or collections of letters,
autobiographies or other first-hand accounts, government documents, newspapers from
the time period, various kinds of archival sources, and oral history.
b) Secondary sources
– These include books (monographs and edited collections of essays or articles) usually
written by historians or other types of scholars.
– Academic journals
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN EVALUATING SOURCES:
a) Primary sources
Examine the author, his or her motives, and his or her intended audience. Who was the
author? How were they related to your topic? Who were they writing for and why
(audience and authorâ??s motives)? Did the author know the work was going to be published
and available for public scrutiny (especially regarding diaries, journals, private manuscripts
Are there any controversies surrounding a primary source (e.g. debates surrounding its
origins or authenticity? Has a text been added to over the years; if so, why and what affect
do the additions have?
b) Secondary sources
What is the authorâ??s perspective or philosophical position? Where is he or she â??coming
fromâ??? Even academic authors have their own biases (political, philosophic, cultural, moral)
Does a particular source fall into any established wider school of thought regarding a given
Different books or articles on an identical topic may contradict each other. What evidence
does each author draw on to support her or his conclusions?
Finding different interpretations among your sources is a good thing. It shows that there is a
certain amount of disagreement surrounding a given topic. This leaves you even more room
to present your own interpretations in your essay. It gives you the opportunity to weigh the
evidence for each competing interpretation and decide for yourself which view you find to
be most persuasive.
Do not be afraid to point out what you believe to be the limitations of a particular
secondary source (e.g. limitations or problems in the quality of evidence, methodology,
conceptual framework, or point of view).
Be constructively critical of your secondary sources. Point out any inconsistencies in
arguments or evidence. Remember, just because something is published does not mean it is
beyond questioning or criticizing.
Try looking at published book reviews of your secondary sources. See what other authors or
scholars have said about them.
AS YOU READ
Do not worry about necessarily having to read every single word of an entire book. Focus on
those sections that are most relevant to your topic and thesis. It is better to effectively â??strip
mineâ?? a good number of sources than to plod along and fully read only one or two sources
in the time that you have. By the same token, do not carelessly skim through your sources.
Be judicious in your reading.
Think actively and critically as you read. This is what will make your thinking original.
Think about useful comparisons that you may be able to make between two or more time
periods or events/processes, if appropriate for your chosen topic (e.g. comparing specific
aspects of the French and Russian Revolutions).
At the same time, be mindful of the fact that historical events never repeat themselves in
exactly the same fashion. Every historical event or process is unique in some manner.
Think about continuity and discontinuity within a countryâ??s history. But be wary of relying
upon such problematic ideas like â??progressâ? (You can be challenged by questions such as:
How do you define â??progressâ? and in whose perspective or opinion did any â??progressâ?
occur? Progress from one perspective may not seem at all like progress from another point
Be wary of seeing things in terms of simplistic linear development (A caused B caused C…).
The past, like our own time, is MUCH more complicated than that.
Always think about historical context. Was the time period in which your topic falls one of
rapid economic growth, political upheaval, or cultural transformation? What was significant
about any such changes? How were such changes located in space as well as time?
REFERENCE WORKS (such as encyclopedias or historical dictionaries)
Articles in general encyclopedias (including online resources such as Wikipedia) can help to
get you â??jump-startedâ? on a topic, but do not cite them in your research essay. Do not list
them in your bibliography. They are very general and are not sufficiently detailed to be
considered appropriate for university-level research. You may use such sources as starting
points to help orient you to more in-depth and appropriate sources. But do not rely on them
for more than that.
Specialized reference works geared to particular subjects or disciplines of study, such as the
multivolume Encyclopedia of World War I (available in the reference section of the Killam
Library at Dalhousie University), tend to be more informative and should orient you to
additional academic sources. In some cases, limited use of such specialized reference works
may be demonstrated in your footnotes. But they should never form the basis of your
FINDING AIDS AND OTHER WAYS TO IDENTIFY SOURCES
A good simple tactic is to find the most recent books or articles on a given topic and
examine their citations and bibliographies. In some cases you can find a significant number
of sources simply by browsing the libraryâ??s book stacks and periodical holdings.
Learning to search Novanet (Nova Scotiaâ??s online post-secondary library catalogue) by
browsing the alphabetical list of subjects is an excellent way to quickly identify multiple
sources for a topic. For example, if you are interested in the origins of the First World War,
you will find many sources by using the following subject term in your search:
World War, 1914-1918 – Causes
One way that you can learn which subject terms pertain to your topic is to identify at
least one or two books that deal with your topic, and see if those books are held in library or in
one of the other member libraries in Novanet. If you can locate such a book by doing a
simple title search online in Novanet, you may click on the title of the book to reveal the full
catalogue record for that book. On the webpage that appears you should see a listing for the
subject (or subjects) under which that book is catalogued. The list of subjects will appear
below the listings for title, author, and publication information. You should be able to click on
each subject term that appears and this will take you directly to a list of all books that are
catalogued in Novanet under that same subject. You can also browse a list of related subject
terms to find other specific subjects that may be useful. For example, on Novanetâ??s search
screen, if you type â??World War, 1914-1918â? in the field that allows you to browse an
alphabetical list of holdings, you will be able to scroll through lists of associated subjects listed
in alphabetical order, such as:
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1914-1918 â?? Acadians
World War, 1914-1918 â?? Addresses, essays, lectures
World War, 1914-1918 â?? Adriatic Sea Region â?? Naval operations
World War, 1914-1918 â?? Aerial operations
World War, 1914-1918 â?? Aerial operations, American
(This continues for many more pages until you reach â??World War, 1914-1918 â?? Zimbabweâ?.
Use the â??Next pageâ? and â??Previous pageâ? buttons on the right side of the screen to move back
and forth through the list of subjects)
The number that appears in the column to the left of each subject tells you how many books
are catalogued in Novanet under that particular subject. If you click on the subject term itself,
it will take you to a list of those specific books.
Exploring the lists of subjects in Novanet, and the associated lists of books, can take some time;
but it is a great way to identify books that are related to your topic.
III. Citing Sources
QUOTATIONS and CITATIONS
Do not simply string a bunch of quotations together in your essay. Quote sparingly, for
effect. Use only those quotations from your sources that really advance your argument.
Quotations from primary sources can carry more weight than quotations from secondary
sources (feel free to use primary quotes that are taken FROM secondary sources, but cite
them as such).
If a quotation requires further analysis or explanation on your part, then do so.
It is best to use your own words as much as possible. This shows that you have a greater
understanding of the material. But if you do quote, be sure to quote accurately.
Avoid simply paraphrasing statements from your sources. The authorâ??s style and choice of
wording can still creep into your own writing to the point that a reader may wonder
whether it is your own wording or someone elseâ??s.
In short essays, try to avoid excessively long quotes. When you do use a long quote (more
than three lines), indent and single-space it. Shorter quotes must be integrated within the
text of your essay and be set apart with quotation marks.
A quote must appear exactly as it does in the source from which you took it; this includes
spelling and punctuation. If you add any words to a quote, place these additional words in
square brackets. If you omit any words from a quote, then use ellipsis points (three spaced
periods, like so: . . .).
Always try to introduce a quotation with a contextual statement or some sort of
introductory phrase. For example: According to the Greek historian Herodotus, â??Egypt is
the gift of the Nile.â? There are …
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