How to write a historical research question

You can also schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk specifically about your research project. Your own experiences may help you to look into the relationship between land use change and habitat loss, or make you curious about the historical relation between bird watching and the American conservation movement.

We have made a figure below to illustrate the process. Among elementary school teachers, those who teach in year-round schools have higher morale than those who teach on a traditional schedule.

To help you figure out the answers to these questions, you look up some old photos of Boston Common in the Library of Congress. Photo of Tremont Street next to Boston Common, Library of Congress Digital ID det 4a You realize that these pictures were taken at approximately the same time, from only several hundred yards apart.

Based on what you have brainstormed, what do you still need to learn about the topic? How do I put this together? You need to decide how to arrange your argument in a way that will make the most sense to your reader.

Try to really think about the ideas you read and have a conversation or debate with them. For example, suppose your research question is: And you also should check your research question with your course tutor.

Now try to connect this hobby to the environment. For this reason, you have decided to participate in an initiative to protect the bird. Especially the introductory paragraph is often best left until later, when you feel ready and inspired. Also, look at the language your professor used in the prompt.

The Research Paper: Developing Historical Questions

Draft an outline of your paper. Sometimes the number of sources you find will help you discover whether your research question is too broad, too narrow, or okay?

Successful papers are not completed in a single moment of genius or inspiration, but are developed over a series of steps. Chapters 3 and 4 in particular focus on defining a researchable question and will give you good advice about thinking through your topic.

Eliminate unnecessary passive or awkward noun constructions active-voice, verbal constructions are usually more effective ; improve the flow of your transitions; avoid repetitions or split infinitives; correct apostrophes in possessives and such.

When you revisit it, go over the checklist in Step 8 one more time. This gap in knowledge is a good area from which to generate research questions.

This is the beginning of a multi-step research paper process that encourages sophisticated historical thinking. Dust Bowl farmer driving tractor with young son near Cland, New Mexico Library of Congress, Digital IDfsa 8b A research question can set boundaries to help you figure out where to go next.

A particularly helpful exercise for global-level revision is to make a reverse outline, which will help you look at your paper as a whole and strengthen the way you have organized and substantiated your argument. You find this photo of Tremont Street next to the Common, taken between and Developing a Research Question.

It's absolutely essential to develop a research question that you're interested in or care about in order to focus your research and your paper (unless, of course, your instructor gives you a very specific assignment).

Developing a Research Question

The first step is for students to create a context-based historical question, giving their research a solid foundation and focus. Description. Even slight changes in the wording of a question will help students avoid dead-ends in their research and ultimately write a.

A Brief Guide to Writing the History Paper The Challenges of Writing About (a.k.a., Making) History and research papers analysis, and interpretation.

Despite this variety, historical arguments often assume a common form. If you’re struggling to develop an argument for your paper, you might want to rehearse one of the.

As you do more research, reread your sources, and write your paper, you will learn more about the topic and your argument. For now, produce a "working thesis," meaning, a thesis that represents your thinking up to this point.


A GOOD HISTORICAL QUESTION. It should not be about the present, should come from historical context, so write in past tense. Research and read to find a good question.

Be flexible and realize you will very likely have to revise your question as you do more research and reading.


Once you reach this stage try to formulate your research topic as a question. For example, suppose that you decide to write a paper on the use of the films of the 's and what they can tell historians about the Great Depression.

How to write a historical research question
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