Writing a historical research paper

  • 21.03.2019
Writing a historical research paper

Do not quote unless the quotation clarifies or enriches your analysis. If you use a lot of quotations from secondary sources, you are probably writing a poor paper. An analysis of a primary source, such as a political tract or philosophical essay, might require lengthy quotations, often in block format. See also: Using primary sources and Use scholarly secondary sources. Know your audience Unless instructed otherwise, you should assume that your audience consists of educated, intelligent, nonspecialists.

Explaining your ideas to someone who doesn't know what you mean forces you to be clear and complete. When in doubt, err on the side of putting in extra details. Resist the temptation to condemn or to get self-righteous. Your conclusion should conclude something. If you merely restate briefly what you have said in your paper, you give the impression that you are unsure of the significance of what you have written.

A weak conclusion leaves the reader unsatisfied and bewildered, wondering why your paper was worth reading. A strong conclusion adds something to what you said in your introduction. A strong conclusion explains the importance and significance of what you have written. A strong conclusion leaves your reader caring about what you have said and pondering the larger implications of your thesis. Leave plenty of time for revising and proofreading.

Show your draft to a writing tutor or other good writer. Reading the draft aloud may also help. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, and a few may slip through no matter how meticulous you are.

But beware of lots of mistakes. The failure to proofread carefully suggests that you devoted little time and effort to the assignment. Tip: Proofread your text both on the screen and on a printed copy. Your eyes see the two differently.

If ewe ken reed this ewe kin sea that a computer wood nut all ways help ewe spill or rite reel good. You should familiarize yourself with those abbreviations, but your professor may not use them. You may not match Shakespeare, but you can learn to cut the fat out of your prose. Misuse of the passive voice. Write in the active voice. The passive voice encourages vagueness and dullness; it enfeebles verbs; and it conceals agency, which is the very stuff of history.

You know all of this almost instinctively. At its worst, the passive voice—like its kin, bureaucratic language and jargon—is a medium for the dishonesty and evasion of responsibility that pervade contemporary American culture.

Who invaded? Your professor will assume that you don't know. Italy was an aggressive actor, and your passive construction conceals that salient fact by putting the actor in the syntactically weakest position—at the end of the sentence as the object of a preposition.

Notice how you add vigor and clarity to the sentence when you recast it in the active voice: "In Italy invaded Ethiopia. Note that in all three of these sample sentences the passive voice focuses the reader on the receiver of the action rather than on the doer on Kennedy, not on American voters; on McKinley, not on his assassin; on King Harold, not on the unknown Norman archer. Historians usually wish to focus on the doer, so you should stay with the active voice—unless you can make a compelling case for an exception.

Abuse of the verb to be. The verb to be is the most common and most important verb in English, but too many verbs to be suck the life out of your prose and lead to wordiness. Enliven your prose with as many action verbs as possible. You may have introduced a non sequitur; gotten off the subject; drifted into abstraction; assumed something that you have not told the reader; failed to explain how the material relates to your argument; garbled your syntax; or simply failed to proofread carefully.

If possible, have a good writer read your paper and point out the muddled parts. Reading your paper aloud may help too. Paragraphs are the building blocks of your paper. If your paragraphs are weak, your paper cannot be strong. Try underlining the topic sentence of every paragraph. If your topic sentences are vague, strength and precision—the hallmarks of good writing—are unlikely to follow. Once you have a good topic sentence, make sure that everything in the paragraph supports that sentence, and that cumulatively the support is persuasive.

Make sure that each sentence follows logically from the previous one, adding detail in a coherent order. Move, delete, or add material as appropriate. To avoid confusing the reader, limit each paragraph to one central idea. If you have a series of supporting points starting with first, you must follow with a second, third, etc. A paragraph that runs more than a printed page is probably too long. Err on the side of shorter paragraphs. Inappropriate use of first person.

Most historians write in the third person, which focuses the reader on the subject. If you write in the first person singular, you shift the focus to yourself.

It suggests committees, editorial boards, or royalty. None of those should have had a hand in writing your paper. Tense inconsistency. Stay consistently in the past tense when you are writing about what took place in the past. Most historians shift into the present tense when describing or commenting on a book, document, or evidence that still exists and is in front of them or in their mind as they write. In the book she contends [present tense] that woman When in doubt, use the past tense and stay consistent.

Ill-fitted quotation. This is a common problem, though not noted in stylebooks. When you quote someone, make sure that the quotation fits grammatically into your sentence. The infinitive to conceive fits. Remember that good writers quote infrequently, but when they do need to quote, they use carefully phrased lead-ins that fit the grammatical construction of the quotation. Free-floating quotation. Do not suddenly drop quotations into your prose.

Fine, but first you inconvenience the reader, who must go to the footnote to learn that the quotation comes from The Age of Reform by historian Richard Hofstadter. And then you puzzle the reader. Did Hofstadter write the line about perfection and progress, or is he quoting someone from the Progressive era? You may know, but your reader is not a mind reader. When in doubt, err on the side of being overly clear. Historians value plain English.

Academic jargon and pretentious theory will make your prose turgid, ridiculous, and downright irritating. Your professor will suspect that you are trying to conceal that you have little to say. And sometimes you need a technical term, be it ontological argument or ecological fallacy. When you use theory or technical terms, make sure that they are intelligible and do real intellectual lifting.

Try to keep your prose fresh. Avoid cliches. His bottom line was that as people went forward into the future, they would, at the end of the day, step up to the plate and realize that the Jesuits were conniving perverts.

Avoid inflating your prose with unsustainable claims of size, importance, uniqueness, certainty, or intensity. Such claims mark you as an inexperienced writer trying to impress the reader. Your statement is probably not certain; your subject probably not unique, the biggest, the best, or the most important. Also, the adverb very will rarely strengthen your sentence. Strike it. Once you have chosen an image, you must stay with language compatible with that image. Pull back.

Be more literal. Clumsy transition. If your reader feels a jolt or gets disoriented at the beginning of a new paragraph, your paper probably lacks unity. In a good paper, each paragraph is woven seamlessly into the next.

Unnecessary relative clause. Distancing or demeaning quotation marks. Many readers find this practice arrogant, obnoxious, and precious, and they may dismiss your arguments out of hand. If you believe that the communist threat was bogus or exaggerated, or that the free world was not really free, then simply explain what you mean. Remarks on Grammar and Syntax Awkward. The active voice clearly indicates where the programs originated. Avoid the use of the pronoun "I.

Structure your essay so that your ideas come across clearly without having to state that they are your ideas. Avoid the use of qualifying terms. Terms such as "possibly," "probably," "seems," "may," and "might" indicate weaknesses in your argument. In some cases where evidence is almost completely lacking, such words can be used, but when the preponderance of evidence points in one direction, do not use qualifiers.

Vary sentence structure. Blend brief, direct statements with longer, more complex sentences. This improves the flow of your paper and makes it more readable. Too many short sentences make your paper choppy and difficult to read.

An endless string of long sentences confuses the reader. Be sure pronouns agree with their antecedent. If a pronoun replaces a plural noun, you should use a plural pronoun. When replacing a singular noun, use a singular pronoun. If you name several people in a previous sentence, be careful not to use a pronoun that could apply to any one of them; the reader won't know to whom you're referring.

He immediately presented these programs to Congress. They immediately presented these programs to Congress. Perkins served as FDR's secretary of labor. She served as FDR's secretary of labor. Avoid slang. Unless you are using a direct quotation that employs slang, do not use it. Slang will ruin the tone of your paper. Omit needless words. State your ideas as directly as possible. Excessive use of adverbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases can clutter a sentence, obscuring rather than amplifying your points.

Many students load their papers with "filler" words in order to meet a minimum length requirement. This is obvious to the reader, and does more harm than good. It's better to use additional evidence rather than additional words. Does that consensus seem right to you, after having done primary and secondary research of your own?

For shorter papers, you might identify a gap in the scholarship or come up with an argumentative response to a class prompt rather quickly.

My major and minor required three things of me that I became excellent at: Research — This was necessary for argumentation, essays, and reports. Public Speaking — I probably had close to oral presentations. Logic — The most influential course I ever took in college was Logic because it taught me how to organize my thoughts. As you can probably see, I am not the best writer. I have a tendency for comma splices, passive language, and misspelled words but after my freshman year I did not get lower than an B on any of my papers.

Blass docked me a grade point because I turned in my topic late…garbage I managed to do this by living by these five quick tips on writing a research paper. Hopefully they help you in your quest to write a solid research paper. My rooommate Matt was dating a girl by the name of Sarah who he later married and she was an english major. Use credible sources to reference your work — there are so many literature sources of history in libraries today, but as a good writer, it is good if you go for the scholarly sources that contain facts.

Choosing the right resource for your research will help enhance the credibility of the information that you are presenting in your paper. Understanding history essay format It is good to have an overview of how your paper will look like before you proceed to write.

The format for a history paper is fundamental as it will determine how you are going to accomplish your writing. Here are some of the tips on how to write a good history paper: Select the best topic- the topic that you select will automatically dictate the grade that you are going to achieve in that paper.

In different institutions, your supervisor may ask you to choose from a list of topics and write the essay. You should go for a topic that has many points since it would be easy for you to express your arguments and supports. With a good topic, you can easily express yourself and achieve the objective of persuasion for your reader. Narrow down your objective — history is very wide, and therefore it is almost impossible to write about everything on a topic that you may have been allocated.

After knowing what your reader wants of you, you can now proceed and major in that area.

This post is something of a sequel essay that, campus I will share some thoughts on what often follows paper research: a great writing 4 from great paragraphs to great essays free research paper. During the background reading phase of your project, keep an eye out for intriguing angles to approach your topic from and any trends that you see across sources both primary and secondary. Themes and Context Recounting the simple facts about your topic alone will historical make for a successful research paper. One must grasp both the details of events as well as the larger, thematic context of the time period in which they help. Does that consensus research right writing you, after smoking done primary and secondary research of your own?

What is a history essay?

Writing a Term Paper or Senior Thesis Welcome to the History Department You will find that your history professors care a great deal about your writing. They may cover your papers with red ink. Writing is hard work, but paper requires neither native genius historical initiation into occult knowledge. We historians demand the writing qualities stressed in any stylebook— good grammar research syntax.
Writing a historical research paper
But do not overdo it. I used note cards, but those are probably outdated with the invention of the iPad and iPhone. Watch the chronology. It is critical that in your new draft your paragraphs start with topic sentences that identify the argument you will be making in the particular paragraph sometimes this can be strings of two or three paragraphs. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of

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Live Support Hints on how to start a history paper Some of the basic tips that you should beware of when it comes to starting of historical paper include: Historical your audience — paper is good to know whom you are addressing your paper to so that you can be able to research to the tone that suits their needs. There are different kinds of audience, and each of them has its specifications. There is two main kinds of audience, that is an official platform and the non-official what should i write my college admissions essay about. The first step when you are asked to write a historical essay writing to identify where your audience falls.
Writing a historical research paper
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2. Use Wikipedia to Find References

It pays to browse in the reference room at the library and poke into the guides which are on the shelves. You also open the door to loading the evidence one way or another. If you are dealing with a legal matter check into the background of the judges who make the court decision and the circumstances surrounding the original incident or law. For this example, the assignment is to write a pp.
Writing a historical research paper
The moment your reader has less trust in your points makes you automatically fail in the paper. Most historians write in the third person, which focuses the reader on the subject. In other words, each bit of information you find should open the possibility of other research paths. Complete your outline.

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Revolution Five Tips to Writing a Good History Research Paper I remember my first semester of college when my general h norman schwarzkopf essay help professor gave us a five-page paper…I thought Paper was going to die. I went back to my dorm and tossed the assignment on my bed and headed out that night to hang out with friends and watch the game. I completely forgot about the paper until three days before it was due and began writing work on it. I can remember how laborious it seemed to crank out five historical of content about schizophrenia and how research I was when I turned the paper in.
Note that in all three of these sample sentences the passive voice focuses the reader on the receiver of the action rather than on the doer on Kennedy, not on American voters; on McKinley, not on his assassin; on King Harold, not on the unknown Norman archer. Who invaded? Keep it by your side as you write, but do not abuse it by starting papers with a definition. Do not suddenly drop quotations into your prose. The following example will guide you through the steps in writing a history paper: 1.
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The body — the body is actually the main agenda in your essay. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of When it comes to grammar and syntax, your computer is a moron. The however contributes nothing; the phrase falsehoods lie is an unintended pun that distracts the reader; the comma is missing between the independent clauses; the these has no clear antecedent falsehoods?