Writing a history paper
History paper example
Ill-fitted quotation. Novel is not a synonym for book. If two people share or agree, they are both involved by definition. Avoid the use of the pronoun "I. Historical analysis digs beneath the surface to see relationships or distinctions that are not immediately obvious. Not only does it fail to recognize some gross errors, it also falsely identifies some correct passages as errors. Also, look at the language your professor used in the prompt. Be careful when you use grand abstractions like people, society, freedom, and government, especially when you further distance yourself from the concrete by using these words as the apparent antecedents for the pronouns they and it. Perkins served as FDR's secretary of labor.
Is the source base substantial, or does it look thin? For footnotes and bibliography, historians usually use Chicago style. In some cases where evidence is almost completely lacking, such words can be used, but when the preponderance of evidence points in one direction, do not use qualifiers.
Now, rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement, but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always applies.
How to write a history essay
Thesaurus abuse. It requires very little time to create, and can save you a great deal of time and plenty of aggravation when you write your paper. Acknowledge and describe the evidence, but not in such depth that it undermines the evidence that supports your thesis. If you find writing a thesis daunting, remember that whatever you draft now is not set in stone. If you think it will help, note where you will place statistics or quotations. You may know, but your reader is not a mind reader. If something raises a question, just say so. Instead is an adverb, not a conjunction. State a clear thesis. Reread the paper assignment and make sure you have met all of the professor's requirements: Do you need page numbers? List contrary evidence. The formal Latin term, petitio principii, is too fancy to catch on, so you need to preserve the simple English phrase. Formulate a thesis.
Even though you may not be inventing something wholly new, you are synthesizing sources and interpretations in a way that no one has yet done. However may not substitute for the coordinating conjunction but.
Types of historical writing
Note carefully the distinction between that for use in restrictive clauses, with no comma and which for use in nonrestrictive clauses, with a comma. If the author is a journalist or someone with no special historical training, be careful. Write short sentences and read them aloud to test for clarity. The second sentence says that some colonists did not want to break with Britain and is clearly true, though you should go on to be more precise. Scholarly history, in contrast, seeks to discover new knowledge or to reinterpret existing knowledge. Many students think that they have to give a long summary to show the professor that they know the facts before they get to their analysis. Avoid slang. Some examples might include statistics on the number of people employed in New Deal programs, and firsthand accounts of people who benefited from participation in those programs. If your reader feels a jolt or gets disoriented at the beginning of a new paragraph, your paper probably lacks unity. This is a clumsy, unnecessary construction. Only a professional liar would deny this Do you have a tentative argument or response to the paper prompt? Note also that the two clauses are now parallel—both contain transitive verbs.
They immediately presented these programs to Congress. The verb to be is the most common and most important verb in English, but too many verbs to be suck the life out of your prose and lead to wordiness.
Roosevelt's New Deal, using secondary sources supplemented with two primary documents these general rules also apply to papers based wholly on primary sources. Develop your thesis logically from paragraph to paragraph.
This is a clumsy, unnecessary construction. Take care to avoid both anachronisms and vagueness about dates. The waiting itself? If they are all secondary sources, be careful.
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