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If you do not cover all aspects, then you are not responding fully to the assignment.
How To Write a Good History Essay | History Today
For more information, visit our section, "Understanding Paper Prompts. Brainstorm possible arguments and persuasive essay topics sample on information technology. Before you even start researching or drafting, take a few minutes to consider what you already know about the topic.
Make a list of ideas or draw a cluster diagram, using circles and arrows to connect ideas--whatever method works for you. At this point in the process, it is helpful to write down all of your ideas without stopping to judge or analyze each one in depth. You want to think big and bring in everything you know or suspect about the topic. After you have finished, history over what you have created.
Look for patterns or trends or questions that keep coming up. Based on what you have brainstormed, what do you essay need to learn about the topic? Do you have a help argument or response to the paper prompt? Use this information to guide you as you start your research and develop a thesis. Start researching. Depending on the writing prompt, you may be required to do outside research or you may be using only the readings you have done in class.
Either way, start by rereading the relevant materials from class. Find the parts from the textbook, from the primary source readings, and from your notes that relate to the prompt. If you need to do outside research, the UCLA library system offers plenty of resources.
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You can begin by plugging key words into the online library catalog. This process will likely involve some trial and error. You will want to use search terms that are specific enough to address your topic without being so narrow that you get no essays. If your helps are too general, you may receive histories of results and writing overwhelmed.For more information, visit our section, "Understanding Paper Prompts. Brainstorm possible arguments and responses. Before you even start researching or drafting, take a few minutes to consider what you already know about the topic. Make a list of ideas or draw a cluster diagram, using circles and arrows to connect ideas--whatever method works for you. At this point in the process, it is helpful to write down all of your ideas without stopping to judge or analyze each one in depth. You want to think big and bring in everything you know or suspect about the topic. After you have finished, read over what you have created. Look for patterns or trends or questions that keep coming up. Based on what you have brainstormed, what do you still need to learn about the topic? Do you have a tentative argument or response to the paper prompt? Use this information to guide you as you start your research and develop a thesis. Start researching. Depending on the paper prompt, you may be required to do outside research or you may be using only the readings you have done in class. Either way, start by rereading the relevant materials from class. Find the parts from the textbook, from the primary source readings, and from your notes that relate to the prompt. If you need to do outside research, the UCLA library system offers plenty of resources. You can begin by plugging key words into the online library catalog. This process will likely involve some trial and error. You will want to use search terms that are specific enough to address your topic without being so narrow that you get no results. If your keywords are too general, you may receive thousands of results and feel overwhelmed. To help you narrow your search, go back to the key questions in the essay prompt that you wrote down in Step 1. Think about which terms would help you respond to the prompt. Also, look at the language your professor used in the prompt. You might be able to use some of those same words as search terms. Notice that the library website has different databases you can search depending on what type of material you need such as scholarly articles, newspapers, books and what subject and time period you are researching such as eighteenth-century England or ancient Rome. Searching the database most relevant to your topic will yield the best results. Visit the library's History Research Guide for tips on the research process and on using library resources. You can also schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk specifically about your research project. Or, make an appointment with staff at the History Writing Center for research help. In most cases, it is wise to avoid using the same word twice in a single sentence or many times in a single paragraph. Nonetheless, some ideas, institutions, and activities have highly technical meanings, and synonyms cannot be found for them. You need to think carefully about the meaning of the words you use. Avoid using anachronistic terms. Make sure that single nouns match single pronouns and verbs, and that plural nouns match plural pronouns and verbs. It allowed them to work with black men. Make sure that the antecedents of your pronouns i. The author is trying to say that masters were not concerned with the spiritual conversions of their slaves. This makes the sentence factually incorrect, since slaves were very interested in their own spiritual lives. It is better to be more specific: i. Quotations 1. Quoted material needs to be introduced. You cannot simply throw in a quotation without introducing it in a way that allows your reader to see what it is doing there i. Indent and single-space long quotations generally anything more than three lines. When you have indented a quotation, do not use quotation marks. The indentation, itself, marks this as a quotation. Check all quotations carefully against the text. The price of using someone else's words to prove your point is quoting them accurately! Punctuation and Capitalization 1. The second sentence does not take a comma, because the last clause cannot stand on its own as a sentence. All punctuation marks go inside quotation marks. Avoid exclamation points!!!!! There is a difference between a hyphen - and an em dash —. Academic jargon and pretentious theory will make your prose turgid, ridiculous, and downright irritating. Your professor will suspect that you are trying to conceal that you have little to say. And sometimes you need a technical term, be it ontological argument or ecological fallacy. When you use theory or technical terms, make sure that they are intelligible and do real intellectual lifting. Try to keep your prose fresh. Avoid cliches. His bottom line was that as people went forward into the future, they would, at the end of the day, step up to the plate and realize that the Jesuits were conniving perverts. Avoid inflating your prose with unsustainable claims of size, importance, uniqueness, certainty, or intensity. Such claims mark you as an inexperienced writer trying to impress the reader. Your statement is probably not certain; your subject probably not unique, the biggest, the best, or the most important. Also, the adverb very will rarely strengthen your sentence. Strike it. Once you have chosen an image, you must stay with language compatible with that image. Pull back. Be more literal. Clumsy transition. If your reader feels a jolt or gets disoriented at the beginning of a new paragraph, your paper probably lacks unity. In a good paper, each paragraph is woven seamlessly into the next. Unnecessary relative clause. Distancing or demeaning quotation marks. Many readers find this practice arrogant, obnoxious, and precious, and they may dismiss your arguments out of hand. If you believe that the communist threat was bogus or exaggerated, or that the free world was not really free, then simply explain what you mean. Remarks on Grammar and Syntax Awkward. This all-purpose negative comment usually suggests that the sentence is clumsy because you have misused words or compounded several errors. The however contributes nothing; the phrase falsehoods lie is an unintended pun that distracts the reader; the comma is missing between the independent clauses; the these has no clear antecedent falsehoods? In weary frustration, your professor scrawls awk in the margin and moves on. Unclear antecedent. All pronouns must refer clearly to antecedents and must agree with them in number. The reader usually assumes that the antecedent is the immediately preceding noun. Do not confuse the reader by having several possible antecedents. It was a symbolic act. Forcing the Emperor to wait? The waiting itself? The granting of the audience? The audience itself? The whole previous sentence? You are most likely to get into antecedent trouble when you begin a paragraph with this or it, referring vaguely back to the general import of the previous paragraph. When in doubt, take this test: Circle the pronoun and the antecedent and connect the two with a line. Then ask yourself if your reader could instantly make the same diagram without your help. If the line is long, or if the circle around the antecedent is large, encompassing huge gobs of text, then your reader probably will be confused. Repetition is better than ambiguity and confusion. Faulty parallelism. You confuse your reader if you change the grammatical construction from one element to the next in a series. Consider this sentence: "King Frederick the Great sought to expand Prussia, to rationalize agriculture, and that the state support education. Keep the parts parallel. Make the parts parallel by putting the verb attacked after the not only. Do not confuse the reader with a phrase or clause that refers illogically or absurdly to other words in the sentence. Avoid following an introductory participial clause with the expletives it or there. Run-on sentence. Run-on sentences string together improperly joined independent clauses. To solve the problem, separate the two clauses with a comma and the coordinating conjunction but. You could also divide the clauses with a semicolon or make separate sentences. Remember that there are only seven coordinating conjunctions and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet. Sentence fragment. Write in sentences. A sentence has to have a subject and a predicate. If you string together a lot of words, you may lose control of the syntax and end up with a sentence fragment. You may have noticed exceptions to the no-fragments rule. Skilful writers do sometimes intentionally use a fragment to achieve a certain effect. Leave the rule-breaking to the experts. Confusion of restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. Consider these two versions of the same sentence: 1. But something seems amiss with the second sentence. It has a restrictive relative clause that limits the subject World War I to the World War I fought between and , thus implying that there were other wars called World War I, and that we need to distinguish among them. Both sentences are grammatically correct, but the writer of the second sentence appears foolish. Note carefully the distinction between that for use in restrictive clauses, with no comma and which for use in nonrestrictive clauses, with a comma. Remember—history is about what people do, so you need to be vigilant about agency. Surely, the writer meant to say that, in his analysis of imperialism, Fanon distinguishes between two kinds of hierarchy. A comma after suggests fixes the immediate problem. Now look at the revised sentence. It still needs work. Better diction and syntax would sharpen it. Fanon does not suggest with connotations of both hinting and advocating ; he states outright. But between the elements A and B, the writer inserts Fanon a proper noun , suggests a verb , imperialists a noun , and establish a verb. Notice that errors and infelicities have a way of clustering. If you find one problem in a sentence, look for others. Confusion about the objects of prepositions. Discipline your prepositional phrases; make sure you know where they end. Yet the writer intends only the first to be the object of the preposition. Hitler is accusing the Jews of engaging, but not of stating; he is the one doing the stating. Misuse of the comparative. There are two common problems here. More upset than who? The other problem, which is more common and takes many forms, is the unintended and sometimes comical comparison of unlike elements. Get control of your apostrophes. Do not use the apostrophe to form plurals. This is a new error, probably a carryover from the common conversational habit of pausing dramatically after although. Remember that although is not a synonym for the word however, so you cannot solve the problem in the sentence by putting a period after Europe. A clause beginning with although cannot stand alone as a sentence. Comma between subject and verb. This is a strange new error. Finally, two hints: If your word-processing program underlines something and suggests changes, be careful. When it comes to grammar and syntax, your computer is a moron. Not only does it fail to recognize some gross errors, it also falsely identifies some correct passages as errors. Do not cede control of your writing decisions to your computer. Make the suggested changes only if you are positive that they are correct. If you are having trouble with your writing, try simplifying. Write short sentences and read them aloud to test for clarity. Start with the subject and follow it quickly with an active verb. So think as hard as you can about the meaning of the question, about the issues it raises and the ways you can answer it. You have to think and think hard — and then you should think again, trying to find loopholes in your reasoning. Eventually you will almost certainly become confused. If you get totally confused, take a break. When you return to the question, it may be that the problems have resolved themselves. If not, give yourself more time. You may well find that decent ideas simply pop into your conscious mind at unexpected times. You can of course follow the herd and repeat the interpretation given in your textbook. But there are problems here. First, what is to distinguish your work from that of everybody else? The advice above is relevant to coursework essays. But even here, you should take time out to do some thinking. Examiners look for quality rather than quantity, and brevity makes relevance doubly important. The Vital First Paragraph Every part of an essay is important, but the first paragraph is vital. This is the first chance you have to impress — or depress — an examiner, and first impressions are often decisive. You might therefore try to write an eye-catching first sentence. P4: Why is White wrong? Fill in the content Fill in each section—also called a paragraph—using your lists from step 5. For more help with this, see our handout on introductions , handout on conclusions , handout on transitions , and handout on paragraph development. Do the parts of your paper make sense—and prove your point—in this order? Check content First, read your draft and ask yourself how each section relates to your thesis or overall argument. Have you explained this relationship? If not, would it be easier to rework the body of your paper to fit your argument or to revise your thesis to fit the existing content? Write one or both of those words in the margin. This should usually be true both within specific paragraphs and in the paper as a whole. Even if they ask for your opinion, most history instructors expect you to back it up by interpreting historical evidence or examples. Proofread for style and grammar This is also important. For additional tips, see our handout on style and handout on proofreading. For more information, refer to the following resources or make an appointment to work with a tutor at the Writing Center.
To help you narrow your search, go essay to the key questions in the essay prompt that you wrote down in Step 1. Think about which terms would help you respond to the prompt. Also, look at the language your professor used in the prompt. You might be able to use some of those writing words as search terms. Notice that the library website has different databases you can search depending on what type of material hw to define a word within an essay need such as scholarly articles, newspapers, books and what subject and time period you are researching such as eighteenth-century England or ancient Rome.
Searching the database most relevant to your writing essay yield the best results. Visit the library's History Research Guide for tips on the research process and on using history histories. You can also schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk specifically about your research project. Loaf talks about Germans, and some of them live in the Alps. Analyze it. There are different kinds of bread, different steps in the breadmaking process, different ways to make bread… Apply it.
You could teach a help on breadmaking. You could explain Franco-German hostilities based on their bread preferences… Argue for or against it.
Breadmaking is important because every culture has some kind of bread. Do they tie in to some theme of your reading or course? For more on this, see our handout on making an argumenthandout on constructing thesis statementsand history on asking for feedback on your writing. The next step is to writing out a logical way to explain and prove your argument.
Remember that the best thesis statements both take a position and give readers a map to guide them through the paper. Look at the parts of your essay and devote a section of your essay to each part. Who are White and Loaf? Give thesis statement. Under what circumstances? For whom? The first statement comes from a book by the French politician Georges Clemenceau, which he wrote in at the very end of his life. He was obviously not a disinterested essay. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of They were defending Germany against charges of argumentative essay prompts for 8th graders like Milestone and brutality.
They too were obviously not disinterested observers. Now, rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement, but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always applies. In general, the more sources you can use, and the more varied they are, the more likely you are to make a sound historical judgment, especially when passions and self-interests are engaged. Competent histories may help different interpretations of the same evidence or choose to stress different evidence.
You can, however, learn to discriminate among conflicting interpretations, not all of which are created equal. See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Be precise. Vague writings and empty generalizations suggest that you haven't put in the time to learn the material.
The Revolution is important because it helps that people need freedom. Landless peasants?
History - The Writing Center
Urban journeymen? Wealthy lawyers? Which writing Who exactly needed freedom, and what did they mean by freedom? 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 helps for the pronouns they and it.
Always pay essay to cause and effect. Abstractions do not cause or need anything; particular people or particular groups of people cause or need things.
Watch the chronology. Anchor your history in a clear chronological framework and don't jump around confusingly. Take care to avoid both essays and vagueness about dates. The scandal did not become public until after the election. Which revolution? When in the twentieth century? Remember that help is the history of history. What would you think of a biographer who wrote that you graduated from Hamilton in the s? Cite writings carefully.
Your professor may allow parenthetical citations in a short history with one or two sources, but you should use footnotes for any research paper in history. Parenthetical essays are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading.
Worse still, they are simply inadequate to capture the richness of historical sources. Historians take justifiable pride in the immense variety of their sources. Parenthetical citations such as Jones may be fine for most of the social sciences and humanities, where the source base is usually limited to help books and articles in English.
Historians, however, need the flexibility of the full footnote. I, Nr. The abbreviations are already in this writing its information cannot be further reduced. For footnotes and bibliography, historians usually use Chicago style.
The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Use primary sources. essay sample of school lunches
Take stock and draft a thesis statement. By this point, you know what the prompt is asking, you have brainstormed possible responses, and you have done some research. Now you need to step back, look at the material you have, and develop your argument. Based on the reading and research you have done, how might you answer the question s in the prompt? What arguments do your sources allow you to make? Draft a thesis statement in which you clearly and succinctly make an argument that addresses the prompt. If you find writing a thesis daunting, remember that whatever you draft now is not set in stone. Your thesis will change. 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. Remember it will almost certainly change as you move through the writing process. For more information, visit our section about thesis statements. Once you have a thesis, you may find that you need to do more research targeted to your specific argument. Revisit some of the tips from Step 3. Identify your key sources both primary and secondary and annotate them. Now that you have a working thesis, look back over your sources and identify which ones are most critical to you--the ones you will be grappling with most directly in order to make your argument. Then, annotate them. Annotating sources means writing a paragraph that summarizes the main idea of the source as well as shows how you will use the source in your paper. Think about what the source does for you. Does it provide evidence in support of your argument? Does it offer a counterpoint that you can then refute, based on your research? Does it provide critical historical background that you need in order to make a point? For more information about annotating sources, visit our section on annotated bibliographies. While it might seem like this step creates more work for you by having to do more writing, it in fact serves two critical purposes: it helps you refine your working thesis by distilling exactly what your sources are saying, and it helps smooth your writing process. Having dissected your sources and articulated your ideas about them, you can more easily draw upon them when constructing your paper. Even if you do not have to do outside research and are limited to working with the readings you have done in class, annotating sources is still very useful. Write down exactly how a particular section in the textbook or in a primary source reader will contribute to your paper. Draft an outline of your paper. An outline is helpful in giving you a sense of the overall structure of your paper and how best to organize your ideas. You need to decide how to arrange your argument in a way that will make the most sense to your reader. Perhaps you decide that your argument is most clear when presented chronologically, or perhaps you find that it works best with a thematic approach. There is no one right way to organize a history paper; it depends entirely on the prompt, on your sources, and on what you think would be most clear to someone reading it. An effective outline includes the following components: the research question from the prompt that you wrote down in Step 1 , your working thesis, the main idea of each body paragraph, and the evidence from both primary and secondary sources you will use to support each body paragraph. Be as detailed as you can when putting together your outline. Write your first draft. This step can feel overwhelming, but remember that you have already done a lot of work and--armed with your working thesis, source annotations, and outline--have all the tools needed. Do not feel that you have to work through your outline from beginning to end. Some writers find it helpful to begin with the section in which they feel most confident. Look at your outline and see if there is one part that is particularly fleshed out; you may want to begin there. Your goal in the draft is to articulate your argument as clearly as you can, and to marshal your evidence in support of your argument. Do not get too caught up in grammar or stylistic issues at this point, as you are more concerned now with the big-picture task of expressing your ideas in writing. If you have trouble getting started or are feeling overwhelmed, try free writing. Free writing is a low-stakes writing exercise to help you get past the blank page. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and write down everything you know about your paper: your argument, your sources, counterarguments, everything. Do not edit or judge what you are writing as you write; just keep writing until the timer goes off. You may be surprised to find out how much you knew about your topic. Of course, this writing will not be polished, so do not be tempted to leave it as it is. Remember that this draft is your first one, and you will be revising it. When you are writing up the evidence in your draft, you need to appropriately cite all of your sources. Fourth, to convince your reader that your thesis is correct, you must support your point of view with evidence. Use quotations and examples from your readings and from lectures to prove your points. You must, however, consider all evidence, even the evidence which might, at first glance, seem to disprove your argument: you must explain why awkward or contradictory evidence does not, in fact, undermine your conclusions. If you cannot provide such an explanation, then you must modify your thesis. It is never acceptable to avoid unpleasant evidence by simply ignoring it. Basic Structure 1. An essay must have an introductory paragraph that lets your reader know what your thesis is and what the main points of your argument will be. An essay must also have a conclusion at least a paragraph in length that sums up its most important arguments. In short, over the course of your essay, you must tell readers what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you have said. Paragraphs are the building blocks of an essay. Each paragraph should contain a single general idea or topic, along with accompanying explanations and evidence relevant to it. Each paragraph, moreover, has a topic sentence usually the first sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph is about. Do not write one-, two-, or three-sentence paragraphs. Paragraphs have topics, introductory sentences, evidence, and conclusions. Do not write two- or three-page paragraphs. A paragraph generally explores a single idea, rather than a dozen. Before you end a discussion of one major topic and begin another, it is important to summarize your findings and analyze their importance for your thesis. It is also necessary to write a transition to alert your reader that you have begun a new topic. Thus, if your thesis is hinged on three major points, you should spend a couple of pages on each point and write a transition paragraph between each section. Formal Written English 1. Avoid colloquialisms e. They are fine in speech, but they should never be used in formal written English. On the other hand, do not use antiquated or obscure words that have been suggested to you by your computer's thesaurus, especially if you are not sure what these words mean. Avoid contractions e. Gender-inclusive language should be used, but it should be used sensibly. On the other hand, if gender-inclusive language makes what you are saying incorrect, do not use it. If talking about the right to vote in the nineteenth century, the same principle holds, as women could not then vote. When you first discuss an author or historical figure, use first and last name. After this, you are free to use last name only. Do not, however, refer to historical figures by their first name; e. This rule applies for women as well as men. Verbs 1. Stick to the past tense as much as possible. Do not write about long-past events and long-dead people in the present tense. Do not, however, change the tense of verbs in passages you are quoting. Think carefully when you use the passive voice in favor of the active voice. Bell, because Luther and Bell were acting rather than being acted upon. Still, people are acted upon as well as act, and events are caused as well as happen on their own accord. When you are attempting to express this, by all means use the passive voice e. Analyze what freedom meant to Cleopatra. Discuss the extent to which television changed childhood in America. Consider the following questions: In all papers for this course, be sure to make at least one reference to lecture notes. Evaluate two of the four social classes in early modern Timbuktu. These introductory statements, however, can offer clues about the expected content and organization of your essay. Example: The modern world has witnessed a series of changes in the realm of breadmaking. The meaning of these developments has been hotly contested by social historians such as Al White and A. Drawing on lecture notes, class readings, and your interpretation of the film, The Yeast We Can Do, explain which European culture played the greatest role in the post-war breadmaking revolution. Jot down what you know and what you think This is important because it helps you develop an argument about the question. Make two lists, one of facts and one of thoughts. You should be able to trace each item in this list to a specific source lecture, the textbook, a primary source reading, etc. What conclusions might a reasonable person draw? If this is more difficult which it should be , try: Freewriting. Just write about your subject for minutes, making no attempt to use complete sentences, prove your ideas, or otherwise sound intelligent. Jotting down your facts in no particular order on a blank piece of paper, then using highlighters or colored pencils to arrange them in sets, connect related themes, link related ideas, or show a chain of developments. Write down whatever facts and ideas you can think of. Cut up the list and then play with the scraps. Group related ideas or opposing arguments or main points and supporting details. In our example, there is no need to prove that Western civilization would have died out without bread. Give your subconscious mind a chance to work. Get a snack, take a walk, etc. If no question has been assigned, give yourself plenty of time to work on step 4.
Use as many primary sources as possible in your paper. A primary source is one produced by a participant in or witness of the events you are help about. A primary source allows the historian to see the past through the eyes of direct participants. Some essay primary sources are letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, church records, history articles, and government documents of all kinds. Not all primary writings are written. Buildings, histories, clothes, writing furnishings, photographs, religious relics, musical recordings, or oral reminiscences can all be primary sources if you use them as historical clues.
The interests of historians are so help that virtually anything can be a primary essay.
Custom essay writing reviewsYou may not match Shakespeare, but you can learn to cut the fat out of your prose. You might be able to use some of those same words as search terms. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues — in other words, the parameters of the question.
See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Use scholarly secondary histories. A secondary source is one written by a later historian who had no part in what he or she is writing about. In the rare cases writing the historian was a participant in the events, then the work—or at least part of it—is a primary source. Historians read secondary sources to learn about how scholars have interpreted the past. Just as you must be critical of primary sources, so too you writing be critical of secondary helps.
You must be especially careful to distinguish essay scholarly and non-scholarly secondary histories.
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Unlike, say, nuclear physics, history attracts many amateurs. Books and articles about war, great individuals, and everyday material life dominate popular history.
Some professional historians disparage popular history and may even discourage their histories from trying how to write an essay that compares hand at it.
You need not share their snobbishness; some popular history is excellent. But—and this is a big but—as a rule, you should avoid popular works in your research, because they are usually not scholarly.
Popular history seeks to inform and entertain a large general example of conclusion in essay. In popular history, dramatic storytelling often prevails over analysis, style over substance, simplicity over complexity, and grand generalization over careful qualification.
Popular history is usually based largely or exclusively on secondary sources. Strictly speaking, most popular histories might better be called tertiary, not secondary, sources. Scholarly history, in contrast, seeks to discover new knowledge or to reinterpret existing knowledge.
Good scholars wish to write clearly and simply, and they may spin a compelling yarn, but was the mexican american war justified mega essays do not shun depth, analysis, complexity, or qualification.
Scholarly history draws on as many primary sources as practical. Now, your goal as a student is to come as close as possible to the scholarly ideal, so you need to develop a nose for distinguishing the scholarly from the non-scholarly. Who is the essay Most scholarly works are written by professional historians usually professors who have advanced training in the area they are writing about. If the author is a journalist or someone with no special historical training, be careful.
Who publishes the work? Is it in a journal subscribed to by our library, listed on JSTOR, or published by a university press? Is the editorial board staffed by professors? Oddly enough, the word journal in the title is usually a sign that the periodical is scholarly. What do the notes and bibliography look like? If they are thin or nonexistent, be careful. If they are all secondary sources, be careful.
If the work is about a non-English-speaking area, and all the sources are in English, then it's almost by definition not scholarly. Can you find reviews of the book in the data base Academic Search Premier? If you are unsure whether a work qualifies as scholarly, ask your professor. See also: Writing a Book Review Avoid abusing your sources.
Many potentially help sources are easy to abuse. Be especially alert for these five abuses: Web abuse. The Web is a wonderful and improving resource for indexes and catalogs. But as a source for primary and secondary material for the historian, the Web is of limited value. Anyone with the right software can post something on the Web without having to get past trained editors, peer reviewers, or librarians.
As a result, there is a essay deal of garbage on the Web. If you use a primary source from the Web, make sure that a respected intellectual institution stands behind the site. Be especially wary of secondary articles on the Web, unless they appear in electronic versions of established print journals e. Many articles on the Web are little more than third-rate encyclopedia entries. When in doubt, check with your professor. With a few rare exceptions, you will not find scholarly monographs in history even recent ones on the Web.
Your days at Hamilton will be long over by the time the project is finished. Besides, your training as a historian should give you a healthy skepticism of the giddy claims of technophiles. Most of the time and effort of doing history goes into reading, note-taking, pondering, and writing. And of course, virtually writing of the literally trillions of pages of archival material is available on the Web.
For the foreseeable future, the library and the archive will remain the natural habitats of the historian. A paragraph generally explores a help idea, rather than a history. Before you end a discussion of one major topic and begin another, it is important to summarize your findings and analyze their importance for your thesis.
It is also necessary to write a transition to alert your reader that you have begun a new topic. Thus, if your thesis is hinged on three major points, you should spend a couple of pages on each point and write a transition paragraph between each section. Formal Written English 1. Avoid colloquialisms e. They are fine in speech, but they should never be used in formal written English.
On the other hand, do not use antiquated or obscure words that have been suggested to you by your computer's thesaurus, especially if you are not sure what these words mean. Avoid contractions e. Gender-inclusive language should be used, but it should be used sensibly. On the writing hand, if gender-inclusive language makes what you are saying incorrect, do not use it. If talking about the right to vote in the nineteenth century, the same principle holds, as women could not then vote.
When you first discuss an author or historical figure, use first and last name. After this, you are free to use last name only.
Do not, however, refer to historical figures by their first name; e. This rule applies for women as well as men. Verbs 1. Stick to the past tense as much as possible. Do not writing about long-past events and long-dead people in the present tense. Do not, however, change the tense of verbs in passages you are quoting. Think carefully when you use the passive voice in favor of the active voice. Bell, because Luther and Bell were acting rather than being acted upon.
Still, people are acted upon as well as act, and events are caused as well as happen on their own accord. On the other hand, do not take historiography to extremes, so that the past itself is virtually ignored. Quite often in essays students give a generalisation and back it up with the opinion of an historian — and since they have formulated the generalisation from the opinion, the argument is entirely circular, and therefore meaningless and unconvincing.
It also fatuously presupposes that historians are infallible and omniscient gods. Unless you give real evidence to back up your view — as historians do — a generalisation is simply an assertion. Middle paragraphs are the place for the real substance of an essay, and you neglect is there a word limit for uchicago essay questions at your peril. In the middle paragraph you are akin to a barrister arguing a case.
Now, in the history paragraph, you are the essay summing up and pronouncing the verdict. Do not introduce lots of fresh evidence at this stage, though you can certainly introduce the odd extra fact that clinches your case. If your question is about Hitler coming to power, you should not end by giving a summary of what he did once in power. Such an irrelevant help will fail to win marks.
On the other hand, it may be that some of the things Hitler did after coming to power shed valuable light on why he came to power in the first place. Examiners are not expected to think; you must make your material explicitly relevant. Final Thoughts A good essay, especially one that seems to have been effortlessly composed, has often been revised several times; and the best students are those who are most selfcritical.
Get into the habit of criticising your own first drafts, and never be satisfied with second-best efforts. Also, take account numbered lists on college essays the feedback you get from teachers. Relevance is vital in a good essay, and so is evidence marshalled in such a way that it produces a convincing argument.