This semester, you will undertake a research project on a topic related to the history of music in Europe or its colonies in the Americas before 1800 and engaging one or more course themes listed on the syllabus. Your topic must be approved by the instructors. Your project will culminate in a paper of about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you select, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
Originality need not imply that your point is entirely new. You may, for instance, take an idea you find in your reading, such as what makes Rameau's operas differ from Lully's, and test it out by comparing specific pieces to which it applies. But originality does mean that you go beyond your sources in some way and demonstrate your own thinking.
You should consider the paper an ongoing project that you work on each week. You will work closely with your discussion section instructor and with the Music Library Consultant for your section, and you are encouraged to consult with Prof. Burkholder.
Your project will unfold in several stages, with the following due dates. These stages are designed to facilitate the process of conceiving and writing a research paper in music history, to give you practice in doing what music historians do, and to allow for frequent feedback. Detailed instructions on each stage, including specific deadline times, are given below.
|1. Preliminary Topic Idea||due Thursday, August 30|
|2. Music Resources and Research Worksheet||due Tuesday, September 11|
|3. Prospectus and Bibliography||due Tuesday, September 25|
|4. Meetings with AI and with Music Library Consultant||due October 1-17|
|5. First Version of Research Paper||due Tuesday, October 23|
|6. Final Version of Research Paper||due Thursday, November 29|
The research project is 25% of the course grade, with each assignment graded separately. As noted on the syllabus, you must average a passing grade on the entire research project in order to pass the course.
Topic: In choosing a topic, avoid the merely descriptive or encyclopedic. Make sure the topic is narrow enough to accomplish in the fourteen weeks you have. "The Sonata in the Seventeenth Century" is too broad, but (for instance) you might look at three violin sonatas by Italian composers of different generations and show how their approaches differ. Choosing and limiting your topic well can save you weeks of tedium and frustration. This is why early assignments focus on choosing a topic and deciding what you will say about it.
Purpose: The purpose of your paper is to convey your main point to the reader. Leave out anything that does not directly accomplish that purpose. Avoid telling the reader everything you know, or filling in unnecessary background information. Make sure that the thesis (your main point, or central idea) is stated near the beginning, that each part of the paper supports the thesis in some way, and that the relation of each paragraph to the overall argument for your thesis is clear. See the criteria below.
Style: While the content is of utmost importance, all assignments must also be printed by computer with clear dark type, double-spaced in a standard font, and polished in respect to grammar, spelling, punctuation, form, and style as defined in Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers, 8th ed. (LB2369 .T921 2013 on the Music Library Reference shelves), including correct format for footnotes and bibliography. See also the Research Project Style Sheet for guidance on style and format. Both the first and the final version of the research paper must include a thorough bibliography for the subject.
Your work on the research project will be supervised by the instructor of your section. We will discuss planning, researching, and writing a paper in class. We also encourage you to meet with your section instructor and with Prof. Burkholder for help in defining and narrowing your topic, planning your research, finding sources, arriving at a thesis, refining your argument, writing, and revising, and with your Music Library Consultant for help finding materials. We hope you will consult with us often.
The following webpages offer guidance on many aspects of your research project.
In addition to these resources and guidance from the instructors, we encourage you to visit Writing Tutorial Services in the Learning Commons on the first floor of the Wells Library at 1320 E. Tenth Street. WTS offers valuable help in writing papers. Call 812-855-6738 for an appointment, or visit their website. They have several useful guides on writing posted at wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/index.html.
You will be assigned to a peer review group of students within your section. The other members of your group will read and respond to your prospectus and the first version of your research paper, and you will read and respond to theirs.
This peer review process is designed to help you write a better paper (1) by providing additional feedback for your own work and (2) by offering you an opportunity to apply the criteria for evaluating the paper to the work of others, thus giving you a better sense of what makes for a successful paper.
When you submit work to us, you certify that it is your own. It is part of the contract between you as a student and us as instructors that you do your own work and we evaluate it and help you with it. Cheating (such as receiving significant help from someone else, or submitting a paper written by someone else), fabrication (making things up, from facts to footnotes), or plagiarism (using the ideas or words of another without giving proper credit) will all be causes for failure on the research project and thus in the course.
For the full definitions of cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism, see the Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part II, Section G. For more on plagiarism, see the Writing Tutorial Services webpage "Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It."
Because it is vital that you understand plagiarism and avoid it in your research project, you must complete the School of Education tutorial on plagiarism, pass the test, and present the confirmation certificate to your AI by Tuesday, September 4. You may access the tutorial and test at https://www.indiana.edu/~academy/firstPrinciples/choice.html. We recommend that you do this as soon as possible. Assignments 3-6 will not be accepted until you have passed this test and have submitted the certificate, and they will be counted late if your certificate is not in our hands before they are due.
In order to make the class and peer review groups function well, we cannot be flexible about deadlines, except for excused absences for medical or other emergencies. Turning in an assignment up to 24 hours late will result in a reduction of one letter grade on it (or, for ungraded assignments, on the next graded assignment), and turning it in between 24 and 48 hours late will result in a reduction of two letter grades. After 48 hours, the assignment will receive an F, but still must be turned in. The next assignment will not be accepted until the missing assignment is turned in and graded. Failure to turn in an assignment at all will result in an F on the entire research project and thus in the course.
Unexcused absence from section on any day the peer review group meets will bring a penalty of one-third letter grade on the relevant assignment.
Note: Last-minute computer failure or printing delays are not acceptable excuses for late assignments. Make certain that you have two or more current back-up files and allow more than adequate time to print your assignment. This may mean printing the assignment the day before it is due. As noted on the assignments below, you will need to make multiple copies of some assignments, and you should allow time for this as well. Plan ahead.
Write a brief statement of about 150-250 words that describes the topic area that interests you and explains how you would like to explore the topic and how it relates to the broad themes of the course listed on the syllabus.
Complete the Music Resources and Research Worksheet to begin the process of locating scholarly sources that are relevant to your research project. Download the worksheet
Write a brief statement of about 250-500 words (a page or two, double-spaced) in which you indicate the idea or subject you wish to explore, explain how you plan to proceed, state your tentative thesis (the main point you wish to prove), and outline the argument you will make in support of your thesis (including the principal supporting points of your argument). If you are not yet able to state a thesis, frame the question or questions you hope to answer after further research (the answer will become your thesis).
Include with your prospectus a bibliography of at least 12 items related to the topic or useful for your paper (including items on relevant related subjects).
Meet one-on-one with your discussion section instructor to discuss your prospectus, your bibliography, and your progress on researching and writing your paper.
Separately, meet for ten minutes one-on-one with your Music Library Consultant. In the meeting, provide your Consultant with a two-minute description of your progress toward researching and writing your paper. Be prepared to discuss at least one challenge you have already overcome, or still need help with.
Write the first version of your research paper. As described above, your paper should be about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you have selected, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
In light of the feedback you have received, revise and finalize your paper. As described above, your paper should be about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you have selected, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
Your research paper will be evaluated on the following criteria.
This grading scale will be used, modified in some cases with a plus (+) or minus (-):
A. An A paper will be excellent in content, organization, and style. There will be a clear central thesis with strong supporting points and ample evidence for each assertion. The ideas will be engaging and original and will offer illuminating insights into the topic, materials, or works being studied. The topic will be treated in depth, drawing on a good number of appropriate primary and secondary sources. The organization will be clear at all levels. The paper will not include material irrelevant to the thesis and supporting arguments. There should be very few distracting errors in style, diction, and mechanics.
B. A B paper will still be quite good, but weaker than an A paper in some areas. It may have good ideas but be weakened by problems of organization and style. Or it may be well-organized and well-written but offer fewer and less valuable insights than an A paper.
C. A C paper will show a competent understanding and coverage of the topic, but its insights will usually not go beyond the obvious, and there will be weaknesses in two or more areas. A C may also be assigned to an inconsistent paper that shows some excellent insights yet fails to tie them into a unified whole.
D. A D paper has some virtues, but weaknesses in several areas. Examples include a paper with relatively few sources and little breadth of coverage, a paper with some good ideas or information marred by unclear writing and poor organization, or a clearly written paper with superficial ideas that shows a lack of engagement with the topic.
F. An F paper is consistently weak, whether poorly written throughout, lacking insight into the topic or works being studied, or reflecting little thought or effort. Papers that plagiarize, that fabricate information or sources, that rely excessively on quoting secondary sources, or that do no more than repeat what is said in class sessions or in the course textbooks will also receive an F.
Last updated: 15 August 2018
Copyright © 2018 by J. Peter Burkholder