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Music 333 A - Western and World Music Since 1914: Getting Started

This guide provides relevant links and information for students in Music 333.

Final Paper

Your final term paper should be an “argument-based” ethno/musicological research paper written on a musical topic of your own choosing. In other words, you will write a paper about music in its social, cultural, political, historical, and/or economic contexts. “Music” is here defined as broadly as we’ve defined in the course—traditions of theater and dance in which music and sound figure are all fair game.

In-Class Exercise

Developing a Research Question

Search the journal literature for your broad research topic.

Browse the results and write down the thesis of 3 peer-reviewed, argumentative research articles.

What have scholars been doing?

What other questions occurred to you as you browsed the articles?

Start asking yourself open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic.

After you've written a couple of questions down on paper, evaluate these questions to determine whether they would be effective research questions or whether they need more revising and refining.

  • Is your research question clear? With so much research available on any given topic, research questions must be as clear as possible in order to be effective in helping the writer direct his or her research.
  • Is your research question focused? Research questions must be specific enough to be well covered in the space available.
  • Is your research question complex? Research questions should not be answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” or by easily-found facts.  They should, instead, require both research and analysis on the part of the writer. They often begin with “How” or “Why.”

Share one of your research questions with the class.


Angela Weaver's picture
Angela Weaver
Collins Library 131