Writing history research papers is a complex process becausesuccessful assignments aren’t completed in a moment ofinspiration. How to write a history research paper? You need todevelop it over a series of basic steps. When you first readassignment prompts, you may feel intimated or overwhelmed.However, if you think of this academic task as a process andbreak it down into small steps, you will find it less daunting,more manageable, and even enjoyable. Writing history researchassignments is a great opportunity to do a rea work and dig deepinto the past.
The definition of history research papers
This assignment is always driven by strong arguments. Duringhistory classes, you need to write a paper that requires them,even if you don’t base it on any outside research. For instance,when professors ask you to write the paper that discussesdifferent between colonial Virginia and New England, you maythink that this task is quite straightforward and it doesn’trequire any argument because all you need to do is to find theright answer. However, it’s still necessary to write a paperguided by a large argument. Some students may decide to arguethat the main difference is grounded in contrasting colonizationvisions, while others focus on any differences resulted fromextant alliances and geographical factors. When making this kindof assertion, you’re also making your argument that requiresstrong historical evidence. Any historical research paper thatyou write must be driven by the arguments that demand evidencefrom reliable sources.
How to complete history research writing assignments
They may vary considerably, and you’re always asked to followspecific instructions. There are certain steps designed to helpyou, no matter of the assignment prompts that you receive fromyour professors.
First, make sure that you understand what they ask you to do.Sometimes, teachers distribute prompts with a few sub-questionsthat surround the main one that you will need to write about.They are designed to help you consider a particular topic andoffer helpful ideas that you may want to use. These sub-questionsaren’t the main questions that you need to answer in researchpapers. Distinguish them from sub-questions to come up with agreat draft. Otherwise, it will sound like a list of shortanswers instead of offering a cohesive argument.
Looking for such verbs as investigating, analyzing, orformulating is one of the most effective ways. Find and circlethem in assignment prompts to determine what you need to do.Ensure that you respond to each part of them because there areseveral questions that must be addressed in your history researchpaper. If you fail to cover all important areas, you won’trespond to your assignment in full.
Brainstorming possible responses and arguments
Before you start your research or writing, take a few moments tothink about everything you know about the given topic. Make afull list of useful ideas and draw a special cluster diagram,using different arrows and circles to connect the best ones. Atthis stage of your writing process, it’s advisable to write downall ideas without analyzing or judging each one in depth. Youshould think big to bring in everything you suspect or know abouta particular topic. Once everything is done, reread everythingand search for specific trends, patterns, or questions that keepcoming up, such as:
- What do you still need to find out based on the results ofyour brainstorming session?
- Do you have any tentative responses or arguments toassignment prompts?
Use this helpful information to be guided in the right directionwhen starting your research and making a thesis.
How to start your research
Based on assignment prompts, professors may ask you to conductyour outside research or use only class readings. In any case,you need to start by rereading relevant materials. Look for anyuseful parts in your textbook, primary source readings, and notesif they’re related to your task.
If you should conduct any outside research, there are manyhelpful resources that you can use. Start with plugging keywordsand remember that this process involves some trial and error. Usethe search terms that are specific enough to address a giventopic without being too narrow to get any sufficient results. Ifthey are too general, you risk ending up receiving many resultsand get overwhelmed. To narrow your search, return to keyquestions in assignment prompts and consider the terms that willhelp you respond them. Take a look at the language used in thembecause you may use it too.
Take into account different databases that can be searched basedon the type of materials that you require, including books,newspapers, scholarly articles, time periods, and subject. To getthe best results, search the databases that are more relevant toyour chosen topic. Feel free to talk to librarians about yourhistory research project too.
Making a thesis statement
At this stage of your writing process, you are aware of promptrequirements and possible responses after doing some research.Now, all you need to do is to step back and check the materialsyou have to develop a strong argument. Based on your readings andresearch, you may answer the following questions:
- What arguments can you make based on your sources?
- How can you answer prompt questions based on your research?
Make a thesis statement with a strong argument that addressesyour prompts succinctly and clearly. If you find this task a bitdaunting, remember that your thesis may change. As you read moresources, conduct more research, and write the first draft, you’llfind out more about the chosen topic. You need to make a workingthesis, which means that it should represent your thinking up tothis point. It’s quite likely to change as you go through theentire writing process. Once your thesis is ready, you may decidethat it requires more research focused on a specific argument.
Identifying and annotating key sources of information
When you have a strong thesis, go back to your sources ofinformation to choose the most critical ones that you will begrappling with directly to make the best argument. Next, you needto annotate them all, which means writing a brief paragraph thatsums up the main idea of your used sources and proves how you usethem in your history research paper. Determine what each sourcedoes for you.
- Does it offer enough evidence to support your argument?
- Does it provide any critical historical background to make aclear point?
- Does it give any counterpoint that can be refuted based onyour research?
It may seem that this process creates more work for you becauseyou need to do more writing, but it serves a few importantpurposes because it helps you:
- Smooth the entire writing process;
- Refine a working thesis by checking what sources are saying.
After dissected all sources and articulating ideas about eachone, it becomes easier to draw upon them when writing a historyresearch paper. Even if you aren’t asked to conduct any outsideresearch, annotating all sources of information is a useful step.Explain how particular books or primary sources contribute toyour assignment.
Creating an outline of your historical paper
How to write a history research paper? Its outline is one of themost effective ways to give you a sense of its overall structureand how to organize all ideas perfectly. Decide how to arrangeyour arguments to make the most sense to the audience. Somestudents prefer to present them chronologically, while othersdecide on a thematic approach. There’s no single correct way toorganize history research papers because everything depends onyour assignment prompts, sources of information, and yourdecisions. An efficient outline always includes a few importantelements, such as:
- Research questions from your assignment prompts;
- Your working thesis;
- Key ideas of each paragraph;
- Evidence to be used to support them.
- Be as detailed as possible when creating an outline of yourhistory research paper.
Writing the first draft
This stage may seem overwhelming to some students, but you shouldunderstand that a lot of work is done because you already have aworking thesis, outline, and source annotations, which are quitehelpful writing tools. Many students prefer to start with asection that they feel most confident in. Check your outline anddetermine if there’s any part that attracts you the most becauseyou should start there. The basic goal that should be achieved isto articulate a major argument as clearly as possible. Besides,you need to marshal strong evidence to support it. Avoid gettingcaught up in stylistic and grammar matters at this stage of yourwriting process because you should be more concerned with abigger task of expressing all interesting ideas in writing.
If you have any problems when getting started or you feeloverwhelmed, think about free writing. It’s an effective andsimple exercise that will help you get started. Spend a fewminutes on writing down everything you know about your historyresearch paper, including counterarguments, sources, majorargument, and so on. Don’t judge or edit everything you writebecause you will be surprised to find out how much you know abouta given subject. Your writing may not be polished, so avoid beingtempted to leave everything as it is because you always need torevise the first draft.
When writing about any evidence in this draft, be sure to citeall sources appropriately. Correct citations always have twobasic elements because it’s necessary to follow a particularcitation style in a bibliography and footnotes while documenting.You’re required not only to cite direct quotes, but also anyothers that belong to other people. The main reason is that anyinappropriate citation is plagiarism.
The importance of revising the first draft
Once the first draft of your history research paper is ready,move on to its revision stage. You need to revise it on two basiclevels, both local and global. The latter one refers to theevidence and argument used in your paper, while the local one isabout individual sentences. Your top priority is revising at aglobal level as you should ensure that you make a well-supportedand compelling argument.
Creating a reverse outline is one of the most helpful exercisesthat will help you achieve this goal and look at your draft as awhole while improving the way your argument is organized andsubstantiated. For instance, if any paragraphs make more than asingle point, you need to revise them. Pay attention to the orderin which your ideas is sequenced and determine if any of them areout of order. Search for any gaps in your reasoning and ensurethat your argument makes sense.
When revising your history research paper at its local level, besure to use strong transitions, topic sentences, and quotations.Make sure that your draft is free from spelling and grammarmistakes because they will only distract readers while impedingyour ability to communicate the main point. Reading your paperout loud is one of the most effective revising exercises becauseit can help you catch all awkward sentences and grammar errors.Ask a few basic questions on both revising levels:
- Does your argument support a thesis?
- Does your thesis states your argument and its importanceclearly?
- Do you have transitions?
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