Research Project

Research project: 30% of final grade

The research project is an opportunity for your group to explore a subject related to the history of information that you are particularly interested in.  The research project should provide your audience, that is, the instructors and your peers, a novel understanding of an interesting research question related to the history of information.  Great research questions often start with “How” or “Why.”  The success of the project depends on your ability to construct a research question, assemble the appropriate sources, analyze the sources, and synthesize your findings into an argument.  Obviously since you are doing this as a group, it also depends on your ability to collaborate as a group.


1. Pick a topic relevant to the history of information, and then write a compelling research question about that topic. Here are some guidelines for topic and research question selection. There are a couple of different ways you can pick a topic.

2. As a group you will select a number of readings that you believe will help you answer your research question. Look at these guidelines for tips on selecting sources for your research project.

3. Each member of the group will then read two sources about the topic.

4. As a group, you will synthesize the results of your reading to answer your research question and make a compelling argument.

5. Use your analysis to assemble a ten minute presentation that addresses your research question, and makes an argument.


PROPOSAL: due Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Please bring in TWO 200-word proposals to class.  Include a description of your topic and your research questions.  In addition to the proposal, if there are any sources that you are considering, please let us know. Your should have a project title and group members listed on whatever you pass in.  We will give you feedback by Friday if your proposal needs revising.

LIST OF SOURCES: due Monday, July 20, 2009
Please bring in TWO copies of the list of sources you plan to use for your project, and email us a copy.  Use MLA or APA citation formats, and provide links where applicable.

PRESENTATION: You will be assigned a presentation day on one of these four days:
Wednesday July 29, 2009
Friday July 31, 2009
Monday August 3, 2009
Wednesday August 5, 2009
Your presentation will be 10 minutes long, and there will be 5 minutes for questions.  We expect that each group member will speak during the presentation.  The presentation should explain the topic you selected, the research question, and your approach to answering the question.  You should make an argument based on your analysis of the sources.  Finally you should include some thoughts on what future work should be done to answer your research question and other questions  raised by your project.

PROJECT WRITE-UP: due Wednesday, August 5, 2009.  Bring two paper copies to class, and submit one copy online.
The write-up has two components:

1. A maximum 500 word description of your project. You should think of this 500 word description as an abstract or executive summary to your presentation. Therefore, it should include: your research questions, how you went about answering those questions (what you looked for when you did the reading), and the results of your research. What argument are you making? How can you support it? What future questions and directions have emerged?

2. A bibliography that includes two sections:

A. An annotated bibliography of the sources that you have already turned in. With each source, we expect to see a 100-200 description that summarizes the main points of the article/chapter/primary material as well as the significance of the work.

B. We’d also like you to include a list of all of the references that you used, such as encyclopedia articles, fact sheets, web sites, or other stuff that you have found helpful, have informed your project, but were not part of the source list that we asked you for previously. These do not need to be annotated.

Remember, all sources on both lists must adhere to a standard citation format. You may use MLA or APA or Chicago Manual of Style Author-Date format. This applies to the sources in both of the two sections above. There are plenty of resources on the web that will explain to you how to format your sources to fit one of these models.

The project description and the annotated bibliography will go on our website.

Your grade on this project will be based on your presentation and your write up.  We will look at the quality of your analysis, your argument’s contribution to the History of Information, and the clarity of your ideas presented orally and in your write-up.

project introduction slides

(note: slides are slightly out of  date at this point as we have revised the guidelines)

  1. […] two copies and bring them to class. The details on what needs to go into the proposal are on the research project […]