How to Write a History Paper
A Four-Step Guide to Writing a Good Research Paper
Writing a research paper can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. These four simple steps will make your research easier and faster.
Most people are terrified to write a research paper. They are given all sorts of rules they are told they need to follow, given difficult topics to write about, and generally put off the paper until the last minute. Then, when students realize how little time they have to write a paper, they panic.
It’s important to have a game plan before you get started. Outline if needed, but it’s not necessary. Some essay writers write much better without a strict outline. Their papers tend to be more interesting and have more life to them.
Find a Topic
Procrastination can put someone in a tight spot. There’s only a short time to research and write a paper for class and picking a topic isn’t always as easy as it seems. Have no fear, because inspiration can be found everywhere. The beautiful thing about writing history is that history includes absolutely everything. Ever. In fact, with very little effort, topics should come flowing pretty quickly.
For instance, Steven Spielberg is making a movie about Abraham Lincoln, starring Liam Neeson in the title role. A Neeson fan might be thinking about his future projects and suddenly he or she realizes Abraham Lincoln would be an interesting topic.
Maybe he doesn’t want to do a biography, so he thinks about Lincoln for a minute. He was a president. Presidential history makes for good reading. He was also president during the Civil War, which makes a very good reading. Maybe they are uninterested in the Civil War, so they look around for other wars. Or even something about the Red Cross during wartime.
There are a whole lot of topics right there. All that is necessary is to pick one, even if the topic at first doesn’t seem like it would fill out a full research paper. Virtually any topic can be made interesting.
Creating a Thesis Statement
A topic has to be sold. A paper about U.S. Presidents would need a thesis that frames the paper. The thesis statement could be something like: “By learning about Presidents in the past, one can better understand what it takes to be a good President.” Tying a term paper or college research paper into present times always works when trying to interest a target audience.
Do a quick google search for a topic. Do not use Wikipedia or Google as a source for a research paper. Reading a quick overview of the chosen topic will help clarify the importance of events, who was involved, and when things happened. Then start researching your history paper. There is a plethora of great resources out there, begging to be used.
There are a lot of great free sources for old books and documents. Be careful, the information found is sometimes old, and therefore could be inaccurate.
Many colleges offer a subscription to collections of journals and papers.
Jot down interesting facts, quotes and events, but don’t forget to write down what book, journal, or website you got the information from. Be sure to become familiar with Chicago (Turabian) citation.
Write the History Research or Term Paper
Go through the notes. Find themes that could fit together, then re-write the notes. All of a sudden, this once formidable term or college research paper has taken shape. In the end, writing a good research paper doesn’t have to be as scary as it sometimes is. Some might think that these steps seem too simple, but in the end this is all that is needed to end up with amazing results.
How to Write a History Paper