Why did ancient Egyptians apply make-up? Who was to blame for the beginning of the French Revolution? Why did Switzerland keep neutral during the world wars? All these questions are subjects of interest for many historians. Are you interested in questions of that kind? If yes, you can complete a history research paper on the topic that really excites you. In this article, we are going to discuss how to complete different parts of a paper and which rules to follow while research writing.
When you are writing an introduction, keep in mind two goals that you need to reach. The first is to intrigue the reader. The second is to make a brief overview of your topic. Let’s talk about how to reach each of these goals one by one. So, how can you catch the reader? You need to call his or her emotions — interest, fear, shock, or even indignation. The main rule is that readers should not feel indifferent towards what you are saying. You can start with a fact, assumption or with a question. It’s highly recommended not to start from generalizations or statements that are tangentially related to the topic.
1. The whole world suffered from World War II, but Japan suffered most of all.
2. If all the losses of World War II were from Germany, this country wouldn’t exist anymore. During this broad-scale military conflict, almost 60 million people of all nations were killed. This number is almost equal to the population of Germany in 1939.
Compare two examples above. The first one has a lack of specific information. “The whole world” is a generalization. The reality is that some countries were not involved in World War II. Accordingly, it is inaccurate to say that “the whole world suffered.” Also, the word “suffer” is inappropriate for this case. It’s better to specify what you are talking about — economical decrease, casualties or anything else. The second example contains more specific information than the first one.
When you are writing an introduction for your history research paper, you should compose a clear thesis statement at the end of the introductory part. Try not to confuse facts and the thesis. Facts are not needed to be proved, unlike thesis statements.
1. “Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only President of the United States who was elected four times”— fact.
2. “The victory of the United States in World War II was reached in large part because of the foreign policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which was opposite to the policy of Woodrow Wilson’s” — possible thesis statement.
You can write the main body before you complete the introduction if you feel it works. However, you should compose a thesis statement first. Therefore, you can decide which idea you are going to prove, complete the main body with evidence to support your idea, and then return to the introductory part of your history research paper. What should you remember when completing the main body?
Avoid quoting sources wantonly. Some students fill their research papers with quotes to meet length requirements. The reality is that superfluous quoting can spoil your paper. Your text should primarily contain your own analysis. Focus on making your own conclusions instead of paraphrasing or citing someone else.
Appeal to primary sources. Look for documents, newspapers, diaries, or books that are related to the period you are studying. Take into consideration that fiction books also count, but you should analyze them critically. It’s better to check specific information in several sources. For example, if the same fact is confirmed in a newspaper and a book of a definite period, you can take this information for further exploration.
Check authors for biases. When you are analyzing a source, you should remember that people tend to be biased. Investigate an author’s biography to find out whether you can trust information from this person or not. You should consider the place, time, and conditions under which the author wrote the texts which you are examining.
Don’t narrate. A common mistake of all students who study history for the first year is to narrate without analyzing. If you present a certain fact, you should do this to prove some thought, or the contrary — make conclusions from a certain fact. Your history teacher knows all of these facts. He or she wonders how you interpret them.
When you are writing a conclusion for a history research paper, you should follow general rules for writing conclusions:
1. Restate the thesis statement. Some students are so engaged in writing that they forget they were to prove the thesis statement that was presented at the beginning. Instead, they start to make new conclusions out of the evidence they found. Leave all discoveries you made while writing the body for further explorations. In this paper, you should restate the thought that was presented in the introduction.
2. Name reasons. If there were some difficulties for you to study the topic, name them. Also, you should say under which circumstances it will be easier to illuminate the issue that you examined.
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