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tips for writing a good term paper

tips for writing a good term paper - About Good Historical...

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About Good Historical Writing Naturally, the grader of your paper will be more impressed and judge your paper more favorably if you think it and write it well. Here are some tips for good History writing Definition of a thesis: If your paper has no thesis argument, it is a paper without a purpose or merit. A thesis is your statement of what your paper intends to prove. This argument must be the ever-present driving idea(s) behind your paper. All of your introduction, conclusion, body sentences, and paragraphs – and all of your ideas – must link back to your core statement of the thesis. To make your paper a coherent whole, you must have a central argument that holds the separate pieces of your paper together. If you have no thesis, the reader will become confused about what you are trying to say and dismiss your paper as directionless, disjointed, and devoid of the ability to shed meaning on your topic. Do not think that you have to reinvent the wheel. Read your textbook and other secondary sources to find out what other thinkers have tried to prove about your topic (See the handout that details the difference between primary and secondary sources). Borrow their theses (but properly give them credit with footnote citations), expand on and add to their central questions and conclusions, and incorporate them into your paper. Simply put, absorb and engage the literature that already exists concerning the topic that you intend to discuss. 1. Organizing your thesis argument : * Make sure that the topic or theme you have selected for your paper is sufficiently specific. Subject your idea to a narrowing and focusing process to make the paper more manageable and “doable”: * 1st idea: “The Vietnam Peace Movement” (promising area of inquiry, but much too broad) * 2nd idea: “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” (an interesting subset of the first idea, but still a lot for a few pages) * 3rd idea: “Senator John Kerry’s role in Vietnam Veterans Against the War” (this is a more manageable and do-able topic considering the length of the paper) * Now that you have chosen a topic, you still have the daunting task of developing a thesis statement. (What would you prove about John Kerry’s role in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War organization?) Always start with a question that you want to answer. Without a question, you will not know what you intend to prove. For example: you might want to ask what unique and valuable perspective Vietnam veterans brought to the domestic debate over Vietnam. Here is an example of a possible thesis argument for a paper on John Kerry and his Vietnam experience that could be put in an introductory paragraph: By the late 1960s and early 1970s the American people’s initial support of the government policy in Vietnam had become a yearning for an end to what seemed an interminable and fruitless war. Americans from all walks of life, including Vietnam veterans, now openly questioned and protested against the military effort to contain Communism in an obscure and distant place in Southeast Asia. In the spring of 1971, many
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