Preparing an Abstract For a Term Paper or Research Paper

Preparing an Abstract For a Term Paper or Research Paper
Professor Furner
What is an abstract?
An abstract is a proposal for a paper you want to write. It should help you as you develop your research
topic and help your professor determine whether you have a good subject and adequate sources to write a
successful paper.
What does an abstract look like?
An abstract should have the following parts, set up as shown.
Course and date
Your name
Title of the Proposed Paper
Statement of the Topic
[Write a paragraph or two stating the subject, why you want to do it, and what makes it exciting,
serious, and important to you. The idea here is to justify the paper and also to demonstrate that
you have a specific, well focused subject. You should be able to “locate your subject, both in the
context of surrounding events and in primary and secondary sources. ]
Example: I am interested in race relations in the Gilded Age and I want to know why the Republican
Party shifted from the strong commitment to African–American civil rights it had shown early in
Reconstruction to abandonment of the Black vote by the end of the century. Specifically, I would
like to study the fate of the so-called Force Bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Henry
Cabot Lodge and under consideration in Congress between 1888 and 1891. President Benjamin
Harrison referred in his first inaugural to the “vile southern methods” of coercing Black voters and
the danger they posed to the nation. Senator John Sherman of Ohio declared, “[M]ore than a
million of lawful voters are substantially disfranchised by the Democratic party . . . ; they only are
they denied political rights, but the political power awarded to them in used against them.” Yet
opponents of the Force Bill included Republicans such as Senator William Steward of Nevada, who
claimed, “The best remedy for the [Negro] question is time. . . . Whenever the federal government
obtains control of state elections, as contemplated by the bill, the alternative is presented of
monarchy or revolution.” On January 5, 1891, after a long filibuster, the Senate dropped the Lodge
bill and took up consideration of a silver coinage measure as part of a deal among party leaders .
Questions to be addressed in the paper
1. What led to abandonment of the Lodge bill? How much were congressional Republicans
influenced by pressures from Northern economic interests, powerful Western silverites and
Southern industrialists, concerns about the Populist challenge, and recent racial incidents?
2. Did failure of the Lodge Bill reflect a rising tide of racism and a narrowing meaning of
citizenship? Where did Blacks themselves stand on the Force Bill?
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
List your sources in correct bibliographic form, including author, title, and
publication facts. See the website for a guide on style for notes and bibliography.