HISTORY PAPER GUIDELINES
C.T. Evans
 
 
Listen to some more information about these guidelines and about the writing style rules as a mp3 file.  You can also read the information as a txt file.
 
 
General paper considerations
  • Do you understand the question?  Before starting to write your paper, check the exact wording of the assignment and make sure that you understand whether the assigned question requires analysis, description, narration, explanation or evaluation?  (These are all different.)  For example:
    • How did Dickens describe conditions in Coketown? (Description)
    • What happened to Gilgamesh after he met Enkidu? (Narration of a sequence of events.)
    • Why did Gilgamesh search for immortality? (Analysis; offer possible explanations, with support, for why something happened.)
    • How did the Industrial Revolution affect Coketown? (Analysis of the effects of factories on the inhabitants of the town.)
    • Are Machiavelli's arguments about politics still applicable to the United States today? (Evaluate Machiavelli's ideas in light of current practices.  This requires the ability to analyze and then compare.)
     
  • If you are confused or not sure, ask your instructor.
  • Have you read the required book or document?  Do you have notes to help compose your paper (with appropriate page number locations to help you locate quoted evidence)?  When you read the assigned book or document, focus on answering the assigned question; your paper is not a summary of everything in the book or document.
     
Paper essentials (Follow these if you want a good grade!)
  • Does your paper have proper paragraph structure? For a one-page paper, that means either four or five distinct paragraphs.
    • Does your paper have an introduction, body of paragraphs (each with a proper topic sentence) and conclusion?
    • Your introduction should not exceed two-three sentences and should not include quoted or cited material; just provide the points that you will cover in your paper. Is your introduction clear and relevant to the assigned question?  Does your thesis answer the specific assigned question?
    • Your conclusion should also not exceed two-three lines, and it should sum up your paper (not introduce new evidence).
    • Does each paragraph in your paper begin with a topic sentence that is relevant to your thesis and that reflects the exact wording of your introduction?
     
  • Did you include (and properly cite) quoted evidence from the assigned reading to support your thesis?  This use of evidence is absolutely crucial. Usually you should include two to three relatively short quotes per paragraph.  Make sure that the quoted material that you use is relevant to the point that you are making in the paragraph.
     
Remember
  • Have you followed these keys to success?
    • Make sure that each statement/sentence is absolutely relevant to the assigned question. (In a one-page paper, you cannot afford to have non-relevant material.)
    • Word choice and selection must be very accurate in a short paper. (Do not waste space with meaningless words.)
    • No quoted excerpts in either your introduction or conclusion
  • Did you follow the Writing Style Rules for writing in the course?  Please check the other support materials in Charlie's History Writing Center
 
 
 

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