HIST500 - Historical Research Methods

Course Details

Course Code: HIST500 Course ID: 3631 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

The course addresses the development of core research skills for advanced historical study. Through case studies analyses, the evaluation of different types of historical evidence, and the consideration of how valid research questions are formulated and applied, it is designed to refine the critical thinking, research, and writing skills that are fundamental to valid historical scholarship.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Start Month Session Weeks
04/24/2023 - 09/29/2023 10/02/2023 - 11/26/2023 October Fall 2023 Session B 8 Week session
05/29/2023 - 11/03/2023 11/06/2023 - 12/31/2023 November Fall 2023 Session I 8 Week session
06/26/2023 - 12/01/2023 12/04/2023 - 01/28/2024 December Fall 2023 Session D 8 Week session
07/31/2023 - 12/29/2023 01/01/2024 - 02/25/2024 January Winter 2024 Session B 8 Week session
08/28/2023 - 02/02/2024 02/05/2024 - 03/31/2024 February Winter 2024 Session I 8 Week session
09/25/2023 - 03/01/2024 03/04/2024 - 04/28/2024 March Winter 2024 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After the successful completion of this course, students will be able to

1. Appraise what constitutes historical scholarship, interpretation, and theory.

2. Discern that historical narratives are interpretations of primary and secondary sources that are affected by voice and perspective.

3. Locate and examine the holdings of archives and learn how to conduct historical research in the information age.

4. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize primary and secondary sources into a single narrative.

5. Appraise the needs of a specific audience in developing a research plan and interpretation.

6. Evaluate historical research conducted by scholars, peers, and students; evaluate various methods for conveying historical narratives.

7. Apply the study of the past to the interpretation of historical ideas.

1. Readings, Assignments, and Participation You will be required to read about 700 pages for the course; doubtless more, depending upon your research efforts. You will also be required to thoughtfully respond to weekly forum discussion topics. While the forum items will normally be drawn from the weekly reading assignments, they may be modified at the discretion of the instructor. Your responses – also called “posts” – will involve analyzing readings, comparing and contrasting the views of authors, and critiquing arguments presented by the readings or the class responses, and discussions should abide by the University Netiquette policy. The purpose of the forum’s discussion forum activities is to expand your learning opportunities by engaging in academic and thought-provoking asynchronous conversation with your classmates and instructor. The instructor’s role is to facilitate the learning process by participating in the discussions and moving conversations by promoting an advanced level of inquiry.

Beginning in Week 1 and continuing through Week 8, there will be 40 possible grade points awarded for participation in the discussion forum items: eight weeks at five points per week. Posts will be reviewed for accuracy of interpretation, rigor of argument, and clarity of expression. Generally – although this may vary in accordance with the particular topic – initial weekly posts should be about 250 words in length (three maximum points), while a maximum of two points (at one point each) will be awarded for responses to other student’s posts, and/or to the instructor’s follow-up weekly forum comments. Secondary weekly posts should be a minimum of 100 words in length. Keep in mind that, when responding to other students, or to the secondary instructor posts, it is not enough to simply state “I agree.” Respond to their posts in a way that moves the discussion forward, and demonstrates your knowledge or unique perspective on the topic.

NOTE: While you are, of course, free to posts any number of on point comments during a particular week, recognize that, once again, you will only receive a maximum of five points for a particular week’s forum postings, be they to the initial weekly forum topic (three points); and/or to responses to other students or instructor posts (a total of two posts, at one point each).

As a rule, if, for any number of reasons, I feel that there is a problem with your postings – normally this might be insufficient or inappropriate responses – I will contact you directly, by private email, to pursue the issue, as I prefer not to discuss matters of this nature in the public forum. Further note that the weekly discussion forum will be closed at the end of a particular week – 11:55 PM, Sunday evening, EDT – and a new forum will be opened to facilitate the next week's discussion topic. Once the week has passed – and that week's forum has been closed – it will not be reopened to allow new posts and you will forfeit any points for that particular week if you have not responded. Accordingly, make every attempt to post responses within the appropriate weekly timeframe.

2. Examination of the Researching History Guide: In this assignment, you will be required examine the information included in the Researching History Guide (course resources folder). Once you have carefully examined the material write an informal, candid 250-500 word review of the Guide in which you indicate the particular topics you found to be of benefit (as well as those items you found not to be of benefit) when contrasted with your own research and writing strengths and weaknesses. Specifically respond to the following questions:

1. What were the most difficult concepts to embrace?

2. What were the easiest? and

3. How might this guide influence the writing of your own historical research findings?

This assignment shall be typed, double-spaced, and in a 12-point Times New Roman font. See the link in the assignment window for a sample of the format for this assignment. There will be 15 possible grade points awarded for submission of the Researching History Guide.

3. Research Proposal: Each student is required to prepare a formal research proposal of a historical research project. Keep in mind that this is the solely a proposal and you are not required to submit an actual completed research project. Before the proposal can be submitted, you must have identified an appropriate research problem and developed realistic ways of exploring it. This process generally takes several weeks, and it should begin sometime during the initial two weeks of the course. Further, you should realize that preparing the proposal is both a formal and an intellectual exercise. Therefore, all aspects of the proposal should be prepared as carefully as possible.

As an attachment to the Research Project Proposal assignment window, you will find the document General Guidelines, The Research Paper Proposal, HIST500. An example of a historical research project proposal is included as an appendix to this guide and you are strongly are required to examine this document in its entirety as it provides detailed instructions on completing your proposal, while the example proposal will serve as the required format. NOTE: The research proposal process consists of the following steps:

  • Week 4 - Submission of a preliminary annotated bibliography of works to be included in the proposal. At this point, a minimum of 15, properly formatted items are required. (15 points)
  • Week 8 - Submission of a final, properly formatted research proposal. (30 points)

    The proposal’s bibliography is, generally, a review of the literature and will include a minimum of 25 reference citations. Further, items included in the bibliography should be annotated – that is, accompanied by a brief description of the work’s contents and value for the investigation – and formatted in the Turabian-Chicago style, specifically the footnote and bibliographic formats. For reference purposes, an abbreviated Turabian formatting guide is available at: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/turabian/turabian_citationguide.html Keep this close at hand as you are required to use the Turabian style format for all assignments in this course.

    Regarding Internet sources to be used citation purposes, acceptable sites include scholarly websites and documents available through the APUS Online Library, or other academic and governmental holdings, libraries, archives and databases. For our purposes, Wikipedia (as well as the other “Wiki” sites) is not considered a valid academic source. Note that, once again, as graduate students, it is your responsibility to ensure the proper formatting for your working bibliography and footnote entries. There will be a total of 30 possible grade points awarded for submission of the formal research proposal.

Assignments completed in a narrative essay or composition format must follow the accepted guidelines of the American historical profession, which is the Chicago Manual of Style. This course will require students to use the citation and reference style established by Kate Turabian in A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th ed. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2018), which is the most readily available distillation of the Chicago manual.

The Chicago Style Manual for book-length works and its Turabian offshoot for research papers have long been the standard across all fields of study, as well as much of the publishing industry. These texts cover the layout and production gamut--including rules for chapter headings and subheadings, abbreviations, alphabetizing non-English names, and table design/designation.

  1. Front matter – e.g., title page, copyright statement, dedication, table of contents, lists of illustrations or tables, acknowledgements, abstract.
  2. Narrative with scholarly attributions.
  3. Back matter – bibliography, appendices
NameGrade %
Discussions 40.00%
Week 1: Required Initial Classroom Login and Forum Posting 5.00%
Week 2: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 3 : Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 4: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 5: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 6: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 7: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Week 8: Discussion and Commentary Drawn From Selected Weekly Readings 5.00%
Assignments 60.00%
Examination of the Researching History Guide 15.00%
Preliminary Annotated Bibliography of Works Included in Research Proposal 15.00%
Research Project Proposal 30.00%

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.