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Assignment Questions

Evaluation of Behind the Urals by John Scott

Writing Requirements:
Students will be expected to write a source critique of 7-10 pages of the Scott book incorporating information from the text and primary source readings connected to the book. This paper accounts for 30% of the class grade and is due June 25.

Writing Guide: In-Depth Source Evaluation Paper – BEHIND THE URALS, by John Scott

Historians, in their quest to show history from different perspectives often have to rely on a variety of sources ?” from bank accounts to personal diaries ?” from posters to battlefields ?” to develop an idea of the past and past events.

While every source has problems, the difficulty is evaluating what is useful in a source while still accounting for bias, omissions, and context.

With this paper, students are asked to evaluate one of the outside readings and assess its strengths and weaknesses. You should use both your text book and the primary source reader to support your comments with outside evidence. You are welcome to look up other secondary articles to help as long as you reference these sources properly.

Questions to consider:
How reliable is the source? What type of bias is it subject to (and everything has a bias)? Is it balanced? Deliberately misleading?
What does it illuminate? What does it not address? Are omissions a consequence of a particular focus or willful?
How close was the author to the events described? Does this distance or proximity help or hinder the account?
What was the context of the writing? Was the author speaking freely or might there have been constraints on his or her opinions?
Why, by whom, and for whom was the source produced? Does that influence it?
How does the source compare to others used in class? To the text? What does it bring to life? What does it obscure? Use specifics from other sources, when applicable, to refute or support the source.

Structure and Style:
If you must, only briefly summarize the source. This is NOT a book report. Instead, it is meant to be a critical essay presented to an audience already familiar with the base material. Do not just regurgitate the source.
Do NOT simply answer the questions above one after another with no structure or transitions. Consider the style of your paper and the proper passage from one topic to the next. Introduce your topic and ideas with a strong thesis. Organize responses logically and in groups. You will need to focus on a set of issues as there is no way to answer every question above in full in the allotted space. Think of what is most important in both the positives and negatives of the source to focus your ideas.
Use footnotes when referring to specific passages from source or text. You need not cite lecture material. Chicago style directions are available through the library website.




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