Here are some of the features of your two research assignments. This is just a summary; please see the course syllabus for complete details about the assignments.
Biographical research: exploring Sinatra’s circle (15% of final grade): A brief (3-4 page) “just the facts” paper examining some individual associated with Sinatra during any time in his long career... 60% of your grade for this assignment will depend on you demonstrating that you have used credible sources appropriate for the paper. Due Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Final project/paper: Sinatra in the American moment (30% of final grade): Your final paper needs to make an argument regarding some aspect of Sinatra’s life/career/output as it connects with a significant moment in twentieth century American history... or development in American music or film.
Stages of this assignment:
Here are the different types of sources that you'll use in your research:
|Primary sources||Secondary sources||Tertiary sources|
|What they are||
|How they help you||They provide evidence to support your statements.||They tell you what other people think about your topic.||They introduce you to new concepts and help you find citable sources -- but are not themselves citable.|
Please make sure that your secondary sources are all scholarly analysis, not popular analysis. Here's the difference:
This video explains the difference in more detail:
Video credit: Carnegie Vincent Library at Lincoln Memorial University.
Use Quest to search the library's physical collection and the contents of most of the library's electronic databases.
Background information ("tertiary sources")
"Background information" or "tertiary sources" refers to short overviews or summaries of a topic. Wikipedia is an example of background information, and most Google searches will find background information from random websites. You can also find background information in print encyclopedias in Simpson Library, such as the recommended encyclopedias below.
Background information is really useful! It's meant to be used when you're first starting your research. It helps you familiarize yourself with a new topic. However, do not cite background information. The reason why you shouldn't cite it is that it is not original. It merely repeats and summarizes what other people have said. It's better to get the information straight from the original source.
I recommend these encyclopedias, which you can find in the Reference section on the first floor of Simpson Library:
You can use Quest to search all subjects, or use individual databases to search specific subjects (such as History or Music or English). Out of the 200+ databases that UMW subscribes to, I particularly recommend the following database, which covers American history:
Books in the library
Use Quest to discover books in the library, and then use call numbers to find those books on the shelves. Here's an explanation of how our call numbers work.
You can check out as many books as you want, and keep each book for five weeks. If you want more time, you can renew your books online.
Advice and recommendations for FSEMs in general, and for specific relevant subjects such as history and music. The English guide is here because it includes film studies.
The Citing Resources guide gives you examples of perfectly-formatted citations. Zotero is a free app that keeps track of the sources you've found, and generates citations without any typing.