Skip Nav

How to Write a Research Paper in History/Organizing your work

This article is a part of the guide:

❶Consider where there are weaknesses and limitations to the argument.

Navigation menu

You are here
Introduction

If you are early on in your studies you might not be sure how to identify scholarly sources, so when you find a text ask yourself the following questions: Who is the author? Is it written by an academic with a position at a University? Search for the author online. Who is the publisher? Is the book published by an established academic press?

Look in the cover to check the publisher, if it is published by a University Press that is a good sign. If it's an article, where is published? If you are using an article check that it has been published in an academic journal. Once you found some good sources, you need to take good notes and read the texts critically. Try not to let your mind drift along as you read a book or article, instead keep asking questions about what you are reading.

Think about what exactly the author is saying, and how well the argument is supported by the evidence. Ask yourself why the author is making this argument.

Evaluate the text by placing it into a broader intellectual context. Is it part of a certain tradition in historiography? Is it a response to a particular idea? Consider where there are weaknesses and limitations to the argument.

Always keep a critical mindset and try to identify areas where you think the argument is overly stretched or the evidence doesn't match the author's claims. When you are taking notes you should be wary of writing incomplete notes or misquoting a text.

It's better to write down more in your notes than you think you will need than not have enough and find yourself frantically looking back through a book. Label all your notes with the page numbers and precise bibliographic information on the source.

If you have a quote but can't remember where you found it, imagine trying to skip back through everything you have read to find that one line. If you use something and don't reference it fully you risk plagiarism. Start with a strong first sentence. When you begin writing up your essay, a strong introduction can set the scene, create interest in the reader, and provide an outline of what is to come in your essay.

The first sentence or two can give a broader view of a problem which you will then focus in on in the rest of the introduction. This first sentences introduces the topic of your essay in a broad way which you can start focus to in on more. Outline what you are going to argue. In your introduction you should give a clear outline of how you are going to answer the question, and what your argument is. You should give a brief overview of your main points and the type of evidence that you will use to support them.

Try to explicitly answer the question in one sentence, and then expand on how you are going to argue your case. Here you will explain the particular approach you have taken to the essay.

For example, if you are using case studies you should explain this and give a brief overview of which case studies you will be using and why. Provide some brief context for your work. Depending on the type of essay you are writing, it will be necessary to provide a brief overview of the main historiographical debates for your topic. It is important to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of what other historians have written about your topic, and be able to situate your own argument within this broader context.

Have a clear structure. When you come to write the body of the essay it is important that you have a clear structure to your argument and to your prose. If your essay drifts, loses focus, or becomes a narrative of events then you will find your grade dropping. Your introduction can help guide you if you have given a clear indication of the structure of your essay. The body of the essay is where your argument is really made and where you will be using evidence directly.

Think carefully about how you construct your paragraphs, and think of each paragraph as one micro-sized version of the essay structure.

In other words, aim to have a topic sentence introducing each paragraph, followed by the main portion of the paragraph where you explain yourself and draw on the relevant evidence. When you are organising your essay think of each paragraph as addressing one element of the essay question. Keeping a close focus like this will also help you avoid drifting away from the topic of the essay and will encourage you to write in precise and concise prose.

Don't forget to write in the past tense when referring to something that has already happened. Use source material as evidence to back up your thesis. Your evidence will be the heart of your history essay. Introduce your different pieces of evidence by directly quoting them, or by summarising them. Then, analyze them in a way that ties back to and supports your thesis statement. Use only the quotes that best illustrate your point.

If you are referring to a secondary source, you can usually summarise in your own words rather than quoting directly. Be sure to fully cite anything you refer to, including if you do not quote it directly. Make your essay flow. The fluency of your text is an important element in the writing a good history essay that can often be overlooked.

Think carefully about how you transition from one paragraph to the next and try to link your points together, building your argument as you go. It is easy to end up with an essay that reads as a more or less disconnected series of points, rather than a fully developed and connected argument. Think about the first and last sentence in every paragraph and how they connect to the previous and next paragraph.

Try to avoid beginning paragraphs with simple phrases that make your essay appear more like a list. For example, limit your use of words like: Give an indication of where your essay is going and how you are building on what you have already said. A good conclusion should precisely and succinctly summarise your argument and key points. You need to make sure your conclusion reflects the content of your essay, and refers back to the outline you provided in the introduction.

If you read your conclusion and it doesn't directly answer the essay question you need to think again. Briefly outline the implications of your argument and it's significance in relation to the historiography, but avoid grand sweeping statements. Once you have written up essay, it is important that you set aside sometime to proofread it thoroughly and work on any revisions. Proofreading is not just about picking out typos and grammar mistakes, but can be a good opportunity to evaluate your work more closely, both for style and content.

As you read through, think about the language you use as well as your sentence construction. Try to cut down any overly long sentences or run-on sentences. Instead, try to write clear and accurate prose and avoid unnecessary words. Concentrate on developing a clear, simple and highly readable prose style first before you think about developing your writing further. One thing to look out for when you read through your history essay is whether or not you have allowed any overly descriptive passages to creep in.

Remember a history essay is an analysis and not just a narrative of events. History students can find themselves re-telling a series of events rather than analysing them and the historiographical debates about them. When you read through your essay look at each paragraph and ask yourself, "what point this paragraph is making". You might have produced a nice piece of narrative writing, but if you are not directly answering the question it is not going to help your grade.

Check your references and bibliography. Your essay is not complete until you have included and checked all your references together with your bibliography. There are many different style conventions for the formatting of these, so be sure to check with your teacher what style you should be using if you don't already know.

Although it might seem like an annoying task, if you don't use the right style it suggests laziness to the person marking your essay. A bibliography will typically have primary sources first, followed by secondary sources. If you forgot to include a reference you risk being reported for plagiarism. How can you write an introduction to a historical essay in only words? Just make sure you have a clear thesis that states what your paper is about it.

You may include here the reason why you chose that particular topic or simply the significance of your research paper's topic. You may also state what type of approach it is that you'll be using in your paper for the entire discussion of your topic.

Generally, your Introduction should orient your readers to the major points the rest of the paper will be covering, and how. The body of your paper is where you will be presenting all your arguments to support your thesis statement.

Start with a strong argument, followed by a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument as your final point. The conclusion is where you form a summary of all your arguments so you can arrive at your final position. Explain and reiterate why you've ended up with the said conclusion. As mentioned earlier, here are some sample outlines for research papers:. Shakespeare Adapted from AResearchGuide.

Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Research Paper Outline Examples. Retrieved Sep 14, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution.

Learn how to construct, style and format an Academic paper and take your skills to the next level. Don't have time for it all now? No problem, save it as a course and come back to it later.

Share this page on your website: This article is a part of the guide: Select from one of the other courses available: Don't miss these related articles:.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

An outline is a map of a longer work, which can be anything from a brief essay to a full-length book. Authors write outlines at many stages in their projects, but especially when they have completed a fair amount of research and want to figure out how to organize their findings, and again when they have written a draft and want to check it for.

Privacy FAQs

Handbook for Historians Sample Papers Search this Guide Search. Handbook for Historians. Guide to writing research papers for the History Department at Le Moyne College Example of an outline for a first year level history paper. Judge and Langdon Book Review/Research Paper - Example 1 Judge and Langdon Book Review/Research Paper - Example 2.

About Our Ads

The Basic Outline of a Paper The following outline shows a basic format for most academic papers. No matter what length the paper needs to be, it should still follow the . How to Write a History Research paper. Skip Navigation. A. Outline: Write a preliminary thesis statement, expressing what you believe your major argument(s) will be. Sketch out a broad outline that indicates the structure - main points and subpoints or your argument as it seems at this time. Do not get too detailed at this point.

Cookie Info

• In one or two sentences clearly state your position and briefly outline your supporting arguments. • Present your arguments in the same order in which you will address them in your. Learn how to write an essay outline. Students will learn to organize and format their ideas before writing an essay or research paper with our helpful samples. Sample Essay Outlines Why Write an Outline? Concluding Sentence: The Hockey Hall of Fame is an experience that combines the best sights, sounds and history of the game in Toronto.