Writing History Papers

Writing History Papers-85
Students often ask: "How can I give you a thesis (or write an introduction) before I have done all the reading?" Obviously, you cannot write a good paper if you haven't done the readings, so be sure to keep up.The writer should demonstrate originality and critical thinking by showing what the question is asking, and why it is important rather than merely repeating it. Many first-year students ask whether the "thesis" is not just their "opinion" of a historical question.

Students often ask: "How can I give you a thesis (or write an introduction) before I have done all the reading?" Obviously, you cannot write a good paper if you haven't done the readings, so be sure to keep up.The writer should demonstrate originality and critical thinking by showing what the question is asking, and why it is important rather than merely repeating it. Many first-year students ask whether the "thesis" is not just their "opinion" of a historical question.

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If you are developing your own topic, what are the important issues and what questions can you pose yourself?

Begin reading (or re-reading) your texts or documents.

"context." Pay attention to the way it is worded and presented.

Be aware, for example, that "evaluate" does not mean the same thing as "describe," and neither is the same as "compare/contrast," or "analyze." What are the key words? What sort of evidence is required to respond effectively?

Remember however that merely "reading everything" doesn't guarantee you'll do good writing.

Some students rush through assignments, others highlight every line, both thinking that by counting pages or words they are doing well.Avoid grand statements about humanity in general, and be careful of theories which fit all cases.Make a point of using evidence with attention to specificity of time and place, i.e.Your task is both to select the important "facts" and to present them in a reasonable, persuasive, and systematic manner which defends your position.To support your argument, you should also be competent in using footnotes and creating bibliographies for your work; neither is difficult, and both are requirements for truly professional scholarship.Your questions will be the beginning of your own thesis.As noted above, all serious writing is done in drafts, and not the night before.Historians are particularly sensitive to errors of anachronism—that is, putting events in an "incorrect" order, or having historical characters speak, think, and act in ways inappropriate for the time in which they were living.Reading the past principally in terms of your own present experience can also create problems in your arguments.The basic elements of academic essay writing are two: a thesis and evidence, divided into three parts: an introduction, the systematic development of an argument, and a conclusion.All scholarly writing, from the most concise paper to the longest book, follows these basic guidlines. A thesis is a statement, an argument which will be presented by the writer.

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