First Draft Thoughts and Reflections

Well, the first draft is done and now after the dust has settled, I can look at all of the comments and use the critiques, suggestions, and tips to refine and make a much better second draft. I am a bit confused by the comments on my first draft, as each one says something different. With that being said, I am trying to figure out how to implement the suggestions to make a better proposal for my second draft.

I am finding it a bit difficult to roll all three sets of suggestions into a better proposal because some of the suggestions are similar, but some almost contradict the other, so it is a bit confusing. I am excited to move forward and refine this proposal, as it will allow me to do a much better second draft.

I plan on using a lot more footnotes to help my readers see where the information came from. I also intend to show my readers which books, journal articles, information, etc. I have read, and which ones I find will be of use towards my final draft.  Another thing that I intend to do, is to find more primary source materials and more ways to utilize digital sources like the Library of Congress photographs and records of Quartermaster requisitions, etc. The details found in original ship manifests are going to prove extremely useful, so I will include more evidence from those as well.

Overall, I will try to address all of the suggestions from my first draft, but am not sure if doing so will be totally possible, as like I mentioned earlier, some of these suggestions are conflicting. I am however going to push forward and work hard at refining my second draft, so that I can eventually produce a great research paper on a topic of great importance to me.

2 thoughts on “First Draft Thoughts and Reflections”

  1. Tiny,
    It is important at this point that you move forward with the advice of your research committee. For this revision, it’s best to follow the advice of your advisor first, then adopt other suggestions as your advisor…advises and as they seem appropriate to you.

  2. Hi Tiny,

    Here are my comments for your revised proposal draft:

    Statement of Understanding: This project aims to dispel the myth of the ragged rebel, the worn-out, tattered, and beaten down Confederate soldier near the conclusion of the Civil War. Using diaries, letters, images, sketches, and quartermaster reports, the author of this thesis will argue that the Confederates proved much better equipped throughout the war than many previously believed. → After reading the revised version of the proposal, my statement of understanding remains the same.

    Questions:

    Does the proposal describe a “manageable project”? Yes, this project certainly appears manageable. It is focused enough that it is not too broad but not so narrow as to render it impossible to discover sources or create a convincing argument. → The revised proposal similarly puts forth a manageable project.

    Has the author stated a clear question and argument in the proposal? Yes. And how well does the author relate the topic to the question and argument? I think this aspect needs a bit of work. The argument is fairly clear but the question that is being answered is not. The two need to be linked together more clearly. → The argument is clearer in this revision.

    How well does the author explain the reasons for undertaking this research? Does the author convince you that the project will make a significant contribution to our understanding of a historical problem that we all believe is a problem worthy of a solution? The significance of this project is not made evident in this proposal draft. In fact, I found myself wondering: why does dispelling the myth matter? What effect does the myth have on historians and non-historians, alike? Or does it have an effect? Thus, the significance needs to be teased out a bit more. → I still agree with my previous statements that the significance needs to be developed more.

    Has the author identified an adequate primary source archive for the project? Yes. Are there other categories of sources you would want to see cited in the final research project? More scholarly articles and more theses or dissertations (if applicable) would be useful. → The thesis author seems to have added a good many more sources, including many primary sources.

    How easily is it for a reader not immersed in the project to grasp the question and the significance of the proposed work? Probably quite easy if you are familiar with Southern history. It may be more difficult to grasp if you have little knowledge of the Civil War or the Confederacy. → This statement still rings true with the revision. Are there specific writing or organizing issues apparent in the author’s presentation that merit attention in the next draft? See comments on draft. There are a few minor issues that need to be resolved but nothing major (from what I can tell). → See comments, again. There were a few instances in which transitions were needed and at times the organization did prove to be a bit confusing.

    How well does the chapter outline provide the large categories of evidence needed to make the proposed argument? I did not find a chapter outline in this particular draft. → Again, I did not find a chapter outline within this draft.

    How well has the author positioned the proposed project in a historiography? From the bibliography, it is quite clear that there are a good number of related sources out there, however, what is not evident is how this particular project will fit into that historiography. Though mentioned briefly at the very beginning of the proposal, I think this needs to be teased out a bit more. What has been written on this topic thus far? Who has written about it? How is this project different and does it add to the conversation already in existence? As you read the proposal did you become aware of gaps in the historiography? Yes but to a limited extent. → I felt the historiography was much more developed in this draft and much clearer. Nice job. I do think, however, that a few more footnotes could be added to the historiography section to provide a bit more context and background where needed.

    Methodology—does the author explain how a particular historical approach or theory will be employed to read sources or shape an argument? Yes, to some extent. “Spatiality” is mentioned though I noted on the draft that this needs to be explained more (particularly for those readers such as myself who are unsure of what that means!) → Methodology definitely improved in this draft. Nice job.

    This revised proposal draft is a giant leap in the right direction. There is a great deal of improvement from the first draft. More sources have been included, the methodology is clearer as is the argument and the historiography is more developed. I do believe, however, that there are a few issues that still need to be resolved: the proposal’s organization needs a bit of work and transitions need to be added in order to make the paper flow more effortlessly; the significance still needs to be developed more; and there were a few formatting issues (including footnotes) noted in the draft that need to be fixed. Please see detailed notes on the draft for more specifics.

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