Zackery M. Heern
9. Academic Search Elite (Ebsco) – catalog of published articles from scholarly journals
11. Use primary sources whenever possible.
Take notes on primary or secondary sources with the question(s) you want
to answer in mind.
taking notes, put the books away and prepare to write your paper based on
Make a list of the main points you will address and rank them according to
Based on your main points, condense your overall argument into a few
sentences. This is your thesis statement.
Make an outline that ensures you will address each main point fully
and focus on the most important information that you have gathered. Your outline must include your arguments
and evidence (historical facts) to back it up.
an introduction. Start by introducing the topic of your paper in a
general way and end with a thesis statement that summarizes your argument.
- Construct solid body paragraphs
that support your thesis. Each paragraph must start with a topic sentence
that conveys your argument or interpretation of the evidence you have
gathered. The rest of the paragraph must provide facts/evidence that
support the claim you make in the first sentence. The last sentence of the
paragraph generally ties your argument together with the evidence that you
presented and points to the next paragraph.
a conclusion that proves why your argument is right and shows how
each of your sub-arguments supports your thesis. This is the place to tie
your overall argument and evidence together. Your conclusion may also
raise further questions, but do not introduce new arguments or
Once you are done writing, put your paper aside for a day or so. Then come
back to it with a fresh mind and make the necessary changes. You can also
have someone else look over your paper and give suggestions for revisions.
writing history and in most formal writing you are trying to persuade the
reader that what you are writing is true and should be taken as fact. In
order to do so, state your argument clearly, back it up by facts and avoid
statements such as “I believe”, “I think”, etc.
you are writing a paper that is supposed to address specific questions, be
sure that you answer each question comprehensively. Do not avoid
questions. Answer them directly and clearly.
awkward sentence structure that may occur from cutting and pasting from another
document. Many historical documents are not written in modern, fluid
English and emulating them will make your paper sound disjointed.
- Avoid quoting,
ESPECIALLY BLOCK QUOTES (i.e. quotes that span more than
three lines), unless doing so adds directly to your argument and you cannot
do justice to the quote by paraphrasing or avoiding plagiarism. Readers
often skip block quotes and professors often assume that students include
them to pad their papers.
order to avoid plagiarism, cite the sources of the evidence you use and
arguments that are not your own. See the Chicago Manual of Style to be
sure that your citations, bibliography, etc. are done properly. The
following is a web link for a quick guide: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
sure that each paragraph starts with a strong topic sentence.
using contractions in formal writing (e.g. don’t, it’s, couldn’t).
the passive voice unless the subject of your sentence is unknown. (e.g. Instead
of “America was discovered in 1492,” write “Columbus discovered America in
careful when using pronouns. For example, “You may think that this class is boring,” “They say that Columbus was a hero.”
The reader has no idea who You
and They are.
your word usage and avoid being redundant. Use your thesaurus. Also, do
not start successive sentences with the same word.
write about a historical figure, author, etc. using their first name only.
When you first introduce someone, give their full name and dates. From
then on you can refer to them by their last name or an abbreviated version
of their name. e.g. Jalal ad-Din Rumi (d. 1273) was a great Sufi poet.
Although Rumi lived in Konya, he wrote in Persian.
- Run a spell-check
when you are finished writing and proofread for grammar mistakes or
awkward sentence structure. Better yet, get someone else, perhaps your
grandmother or the Writing Center, to edit your paper.