Course:HIST481/Research Wiki

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Guidelines for Preparation of Research Wiki Assignment

The development of good writing skills is a major aim of university education and students acquire these skills through example, effort, practice, and rigorous thought. A good research wiki involves the bringing together of facts and ideas using precise and meaningful language and a formalized structure.

i) the scope of your entry

When writing a research wiki, remember that you are explaining concepts and helping the reader to understand particular arguments and interpretations, not just listing facts or writing a chronology of events. Once you have selected a topic from the list of topics and begun your research, the next step is to determine the key issues surrounding the topic you have chosen. Utilize sources that help you understand the relevance of these issues in a variety of national contexts, including but not limited to China. For instance, a wiki entry on "education as a human right" might look something like this:

  1. Introduction: Is education a universal human right?
  2. Origins and development of human rights theory
  3. The United Nations’ enshrinement of education as a universal human right
  4. Access to education in the "developed" world (case studies: Canada, Japan)
  5. Access to education in the "developing" world (case studies: China, Nigeria)
  6. Factors determining access to education: wealth, poverty, parental expectations, public demand, state commitment, state resources)
  7. Conclusion

The wiki entry should have the same breadth and depth of research and critical analysis as would be found in a major research essay. However, more important than the word count will be evidence that your entry has evolved as you conduct your research and respond to the feedback of your peers.

ii) making a plan Work with your peers to formulate a concise title for your wiki entry that crystallizes its purpose and approach. Then construct a plan that will enable you to proceed. Identify relevant sources, prepare notes from your reading of the sources, and formulate an outline for the paper. Don't worry if you find that your ideas or outline require modification along the way: this is a natural and expected component if the research process.

iii) writing the entry

Very few writers can complete an entry in one draft. Working with a wiki means your entry should change and evolve over time. You should add and modify content as you research your topic and as you gain new insights into the material. When you think your entry is almost complete, a good practice is to put the entry aside for a few days, and then ask the following questions:

  • Does the introduction outline the basics of my argument?
  • Does the entry progress in a logical and coherent manner?
  • Do paragraphs have main ideas followed by explanation?
  • Are terms defined clearly and accurately?
  • Are spelling and grammar correct?
  • Are all borrowed ideas clearly referenced?
  • Are any borrowed graphics, tables or figures copyright compliant?
  • Are graphics and external links used to purposefully support the argument?
  • Does the entry take into account any comments or discussion points that have been offered by other students?

iv) editing your colleagues' work

A key feature of a collaborative assignment such as this is that a wiki entry should evolve as readers discuss its content. Much of your learning will occur from the discussion that takes place between you, your peers, and the readers of the entry. Likewise, your comments on other wiki entries will help your classmates refine their arguments as well.

When editing your colleagues' work, it is important that you pay attention to items such as grammar and spelling, but it is also important that you offer substantive comments/additions that improve the overall quality of the entry. In doing so, it is also important that you are respectful towards the author’s original entry. In other words, before you make substantial changes to an entry, you should discuss this with the author using the 'Discussion' feature of the wiki.

Therefore, when collaborating on a wiki entry, you should approach the content in two distinct ways.

Direct edits: These should occur on the main wiki entry.

Discussion: You should use the discussion portion of the wiki to raise any questions, offer suggestons or generally discuss any topic that you think the main author should address.

NOTE: You are strongly encouraged to review all the wiki entries before selecting one to edit to ensure your contribution as an editor will be both substantive and effective.

Wiki topics for the current term can be found at: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:HIST481

Plagiarism & Academic Honesty

As with your other assignments, make sure your contributions to the Research Wiki adhere to the UBC policy on academic integrity and plagiarism.