Writing a history research paper may seem daunting due to the numerous hours you will need to research. However, you most likely have no choice but to deliver an impeccable paper as they contribute significantly to your final grade. Breaking down the paper into small sections will make the writing more manageable, but how do you do that? Stick around and find out!
Table of contents
- What is a history research paper?
- Structure of writing a History paper
- Tips on writing a History paper
- Mistakes that will land you negative remarks on History papers
What Is a History research paper?
It contains research information about a person, place or event that has a historical impact on our current world. Most History students will be required to write a Historical research paper at least once in their course of study.
Since History is often interpreted differently depending on how one was affected, the research material is usually extensive. Therefore, you will need a lot of time to prepare your paper if you want it to be above average.
Structure of writing a History research paper
Keeping in mind that there are several research paper writing styles, they all have one general format for some sort of uniformity.
Every research paper should have a segment dedicated to introductions. Here, you should give a background of the topic (when did the events happen? Who was involved?) and what you intend to cover(thesis). Then, when one reads your introduction, they should have a clear idea of what the whole article is about.
Here is where the bulk of the article will be. You are free to group everything into several subtitles in such a way that there is some sort of organization and flow in your ideas. Otherwise, the whole article will appear as a long story which will bore the reader.
Additionally, your paper’s body should contain a literature review segment where you talk about the works of other writers regarding the same topic as yours or a similar one. Also, you need to have a research methodology segment where you give the reader a summary of the research methods that you used.
As the name suggests, your conclusion should be a summary of your whole article. Since the word count is limiting, you could present a short answer to your thesis. Avoid introducing new concepts in your conclusion, as it will seem like you have not exhausted the topic.
Tips on writing a History research paper
- Take time to understand the prompts
Often, your professor will give you a topic and some prompts to guide you through the paper. This is usually great as it is hard to deviate from the topic if you use prompts correctly, plus it also eliminates the risk of you choosing an unrelated topic.
But also, prompts can be very hard to use because you will feel the need to answer all the questions asked, making it easy for your essay to be a collection of questions and answers rather than an informative piece on the topic.
On the other hand, a professor may give you the liberty of choosing a random topic on your own. Therefore, it is imperative to take your time to research a topic you resonate with and are knowledgeable in to make writing more enjoyable. Afterwards, you will need to research prompts that you can use to guide you in knowing the critical information that your article will need to address.
- Background reading and research
The research will take the bulk of the overall time you will need to spend on the research paper. However, if done well, then a good grade is imminent. First of all, you need to know which sources you will be using to research (both primary and secondary).
Primary sources are first-hand records that were written during or a few years after an event happened. They include memoirs, diaries, contemporary art, personal histories in print form and so forth.
Secondary sources are usually some sort of interpretation and generalization of primary sources. In short, they contain information that originated from another source. Some of them include; textbooks, online articles, and most web pages.
Once you establish the sources, try and read as much as you can about the topic at hand to gauge the most common pattern of events. After that, form a pattern of your own that you will use in presenting your argument on your research paper.
Each time you find a piece of information you would like to use, note down the reference details as it makes it easier to trace it back and reread it if you forget anything. Also, it will be easier to compile the said details for the referencing section.
- Draft a thesis
Now that you have a clear understanding of what the topic is about and how you can answer the questions on your prompt, it is time to debate what the thesis is going to be about.
Contrary to popular opinion, your thesis cannot be a derivative of the topic; it needs to be more of what your take is on the subject at hand. For example, ‘Effects of world war three’ is not a thesis; however, ‘What could the USA government do to cushion the effects of world war three’ can be a good thesis. To be safe, make sure your thesis touches on who, why, or what led to an event happening.
Also, be sure that every paragraph you write all through your research paper is somewhat related to the thesis. This way, you will avoid writing irrelevant information. To get good marks, your lecturer should always be able to see what the argument is, which point you are at explaining it, and where it is going.
- Start on the outline for your paper.
One of the reasons professors give out research papers is that they want to gauge if you can research a topic and give your argument coherently. Therefore, the outline you go for will determine whether your work will have a great flow or not.
There are a lot of ideal structures you can go with. For example, you can choose a chronological or even a thematic structure- Basically, whatever seems like it will put across your main points in the most coherent manner.
Also, another way you can make your writing easier is if you draft points that you will use as paragraph prompts. This way, you know what each paragraph will be talking about, the argument you will use to support it, the evidence and finally, the reference.
- Write your first draft.
Keeping in mind the structure that you have chosen, start writing. Make sure that all your points are presented in a way that the reader will understand.
Remember, the reader does not have the information that you have gotten from the research, so it is your job to summarize everything for them in such a way that they will not need to read more on the topic to be as knowledgeable as you.
Owing to the fact that you already have the paragraph prompts and reference annotations, writing should not be as hard. Also, it will give you a chance to know where you need to research more for everything to make sense.
- Write your second draft.
Take a few hours or even days after working on your first draft before you work on your second one. This way, you will be reading it from a clear perspective hence can be able to notice prominent errors. Start by changing up every paragraph that seems descriptive rather than argumentative. It is easy utu get carried away trying to put your point across that you overexplain yourself.
Ask yourself what each part in the paragraph has to do with defending your thesis. If there is no point, then delete them.
- Edit your work
Every lecturer appreciates a well-edited piece of work- not only will it be more enjoyable to read but also, it proves that you actually took your time on the paper. First off, you can use one of the many grammar checking tools available on the web. This will eliminate all common errors and mistakes.
After that, you will need to edit on your own. Check for weird sentence structures, ill-placed sentence transitions, wrong nouns, and similar errors.
Mistakes that will land you negative remarks on History papers
- Quoting excessively- Too much quoting will give the impression that you lifted the idea off somewhere instead of understanding the idea and then paraphrasing it. Also, most students find it hard to include quotations in a grammatically correct way.
- Too much passive voice- Try using active voice as much as possible as the passive voice seems a bit vague.
- Fluff- When editing, remove as much fluff as you can as they take away meaningful word space in your article that could have gone towards educating your reader on the topic at hand.
- Unclear thesis- An unclear thesis is a straight sign of failure. It means that you did not understand the topic.