According to Turabian every research project should begin with a topic (X), a question about the topic (Y), and the significance of answering that question (Z).

Turabian says that when put together these three things form a comprehensive sentence that states, “I am writing about X, because I want to know Y, so that I can help others understand Z.”

Even though I’m only in the beginning stages of my research project, it’s a good idea to construct an XYZ sentence about what I’m doing. Obviously this sentence will change and morph throughout my project, but this can give me a solid foundation as I move forward. Without further adieu:

I am writing about Virginia Tech during World War I, because I want to know how the war affected ordinary people and communities at a local level, so that I can help others understand the impact the Great War had on American society.

As I said, this statement will change, as will my project. But at the moment I’m hoping to useĀ Virginia Tech as a case study to reveal larger themes in the era of the Great War.



3 thoughts on “VT in WWI: XYZ”

  1. A good beginning, your goal is clear — adding to our understanding of the impact of war by looking at how XXX was affected. And, you’re right, this is a sentence that you will refine and refine again as you get into the research. it’s easy to see places you might want to modify as you go forward — each part of the XYZ in this version is is vague, general (and that’s OK as a starting point). I would want to know how you are framing “Virginia Tech” as-the institution? the personnel? the students? the curriculum? something not listed here? What do you mean by “VT?” Same with “affected ordinary people” at the local level? Might you find different verbs that better capture what you hope to know? (Tho I wonder if ordinary people can be affected at the national level?) And “war” is such a broad noun–is it mobilization? Or political divisions? Or some other element encompassed by the word “war.”


  2. I think that your “y” and “z” are the real money makers here. I know that they made things a lot clearer for me about your project. I knew that you were very curious about your topic, but the significance really speaks to the larger audience.


  3. It is a little vague, but we can all get your general idea. However, I don’t know that you could completely say “ordinary people” when talking about VT during the war. The Corps was facing going to possibly die in France. They were faced with the thoughts of it every day. That’s bound to have influenced the impact it had here versus other parts of the country. What did the civilian population look like at VPI at that time? That same sentiment of the Corps shipping out could have bled over in to the civilian contingent here as well. You’re on the right track, just keep digging.


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