This document simply addresses what the final document should look like and what the components will be. It should be considered tentative and will likely change as the semester progresses and we discuss, as a class, different issues with your papers. There is no one standardized format for this type of research. This format is simply one of many, but it is intended to give you a structure to follow and expect rather than attempt to construct this on your own.
Introduction: An introduction should simply do three things. 1) Introduce the topic- in the sense of giving a reader a general idea what the paper is about. 2) Demonstrate why the research is important. And 3) foreshadow the results. Introductions, therefore are often written at the beginning of the project (in the format of a research proposal) indicating what you *hope* to do and the significantly rewritten at the end given that research rarely ends up being exactly what you had hoped.
Literature Review: There are two essential components to this. The first provides the reader a detailed perspective on the research that has already been done on your topic. This should be broken down into organized sections that address smaller chunks of the topic. The second component of the literature review is to discuss your theoretical perspective. What theoretical perspective do you propose (note that this does not have to be a single perspective, but can be a combination) and what have been used previously to discuss this topic (which definitely overlaps with the topical portion of the literature review. This section should include your research questions.
Methods: This section demonstrates what methods you (hope to employ) employed to address your research question(s) and why those methods are appropriate ways of addressing those questions. Be as detailed as possible (include specifics about any resources you might use; maps, websites, directories, computer programs, technology, etc.). Readers should be able to replicate your method. This should also describe any difficulties that you had and any changes that you made to the proposed methods (and why you had to make those changes).
Data Description: This is a general description of the data that you collected. How many people you interviewed or how many historical documents you viewed, etc. This gives the reader a basic understanding of how “much” you were able to collect. Please note that this is not about simply numbers, but also about richness. For example, you could have a small number of incredibly rich interviews or a larger number of surveys (which are less rich). It should also include some break down of your data- descriptions of numbers, lengths, etc. – this will vary incredibly based upon the
Data Analysis: This is a longer section that connects your Background, Theory, Methods and Data together to suggest what they mean and how they address your Research Questions. It should also address what your data CANNOT do and how it fails to address your questions. Lastly, you should consider what research could be done in the future to address your topic/ research questions.
Conclusion: Too often people think that the conclusion is a restatement of the introduction (in a concluding rather than introductory way), but this is really where you let readers know what you were able to do and what it means in a relatively brief way.