I.              Choose a topic.

A.  Originality – The research question that you pose should allow you to make an original and generative contribution to the subject.  In addition, you must find the topic interesting or you will never manage to put in the work necessary to sustain the research or complete the project successfully.

B.    Scope – Your goal for the Ethnic Studies capstone experience is to propose a project and work towards presenting the project in-progress at the Ethnic Studies syposium during Week 10.  Your project may delevop into a research paper or other forms for public dessemination.  You may start with a very broad and ambitious topic area.  As you begin to identify and sift through secondary literature and potential research materials you should quickly and continually refocus and redefine your research question so that you can do an adequate job in the time you have available.

C.    Model – After identifying a general topic area, locate a scholarly journal in the library that has articles relevant to your interests.  Look through a few issues until you get a feel for how authors frame their topic and organize their writing.  You may find a good article that you can use as a model of what your finished project might look like.

II.            Identify research materials and/or resources.

A.    Assembling bibliography – Reference librarians often complain that students do not make use of their services.  Make a reference librarian happy today!  The object of your literature search is to find the published work that relates to your topic area.  Understanding the shape of what has been done already will help you to refine your research question.  See the Sample Bibliographic Entries sheet for an indication of what information you need to collect as you accumulate references.

B.    Locating materials and resources – In addition to the secondary literature on your topic, the primary sources will provide the critical information that will allow you to critically evaluate or interpret the fruits of your research.  Resources may take any forms appropriate to your topic, e.g.:  historical documents, film, photographs, ethnographic site, people to interview....

C.    Practicality of project – Soon after you begin to assemble the resources that will make up the bulk of your research you must evaluate whether you have enough relevant material and the skills necessary for a feasible project.

III.         Preliminary research.

A.     Work ethic – Research takes a lot of work!  Do not underestimate the time it takes to read, design interview questions, schedule and transcribe the interviews, and the like. 

B.        Taking notes – Good note-taking habits are crucial to successful research.  Back-tracking to locate that crucial piece of information that you did not document yields nothing but frustration and wastes time.

You need to take different kinds of notes for bibliographic references, secondary literature, and primary research materials and resources.

IV.          Write the Research proposal.

A.  Statement of research question – This should be a concise summary of the core purpose of your research project.  It may be formally stated as a hypothesis or informally as a motive to under-take the study.  The study's findings answer the question; its methods ensure the answer's reliability.

B.    Review of the literature and how it relates to your topic – The literature review contains an interpretive synthesis of other studies that relate to your topic area.  It should contain a discussion of how your research question raises or resolves issues that the available literature does not address.

C.    Discussion of sources, theories, resources (locations), and methodologies used to address research question – This section should summarize the materials your research will utilize, where they are located, and how they will be used in your project.  To the extent that the conceptual or theorectical framework has not been already addressed in the sections above, it can be explained here.

D.   Ethical considerations - Include here steps taken to ensure interlocutors' privacy, safety and agency.  If your research is "in the field", explain the consideration of place(s) where your interlocutors interact and where the observations and/or interviews are conducted, situated within a wider social or physical environment.  How do you get in, become accepted, establish trust and rapport, and document the data? What is the learning and discovery process from the researcher's point of view?

E.   Outline of research plan/Findings – This may be in the form of a list of research tasks or an actual schedule of research activities.  In either case you must pay attention to the limited time available in one or two UCSD quarters.  In your Symposium presentation and final project, this section becomes the central section comprising of 2 parts:

1.     Findings of the research, presentation and analysis - the main body of the work.

2.     Conclusion -  considers how the findings relate to the research question originally posed, discusses the implications of the findings, the success of the conceptual framework (theoretical/methodological), and new questions or issues raised.

F.    Bibliography – The accompanying Sample Bibliographic Entries sheet show one of many formats for different types of bibliographic materials.  The sheet shows two styles of entry for a monograph (book with one author).  The first follows the system defined by the Modern Language Association.  The second follows the American Sociological Association guidelines and is similar to other social science formats.


Gutiérrez, Ramón. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away:  Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991.  [Modern Language Assn. format]

Gutiérrez, Ramón. 1991. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away:  Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846. Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [American Sociological Assn. format]

Monograph with editor and translator:

Córtes, José.  Report of the Northern Presidios of New Spain.  Ed. Elizabeth A. H. John.  Trans. John Wheat.  Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Monograph, multiple authors:

Ackerman, Nancy, and Peggy Roalf.  Strong Hearts: Native American visions and voices.  New York, NY: Aperture, 4 1995. 

Edited book:

Albers, Patricia, and Beatrice Medicine, eds.  The Hidden Half:  Studies of Plains Indian Woman.  Boston: University Press of America, 1983.

Edited book chapter:

Albers, Patricia.  "Sioux Women in Transition:  A Study of Their Changing Status in Domestic and Capitalist Sectors of Production."  The Hidden Half:  Studies of Plains Indian Woman.  ed. Patricia Albers, and Beatrice Medicine.  Boston: University Press of America, 1983.  175-236.

Journal article:

Adams, Eleanor B.  "Letter to the Missionaries of New Mexico from Fray Silvestre de Escalante."  New Mexico Historical Review 1965; 40:4,  319-332.


Bandelier, Adolph A., ed.  "Bandelier Documents"  Papers from the Hemenway Expedition.  Tozzer Library, Harvard University.


Frank, Ross H.  "From Settler to Citizen:  economic development and cultural change in late colonial New Mexico, 1750-1820." Ph.D., Department of History, Berkeley, University of California, Berkeley, 1992.


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