Keys to Successful History EssaysTuesday, April 6th, 2010
A history essay must quote many sources
History teachers ask for essays many, many times. More than desirable, certainly. That is because history is a discipline which cannot be studied only by reading books. History essays give the students the chance to demonstrate their knowledge acquisition through many abilities: facts distribution; comprehension of processes, causes and consequences; handling of academic bibliography as well as other sources (newspapers and magazines, the Internet, documents, letters, photographs, etc.). Besides, teachers like written productions: they base their grades almost entirely on them. That is why your history essay should be accurate and clear.
If you are not sure where to begin, here we give you a few tips on how to write a good work, from the very beginning to the last word.
Organize your work
As in any written assignment, a proper organization of your work is very important. Only by carefully planning your essay, and the time distribution, you will be able to meet deadlines and hand in a relatively good paper. As in every essay, for a history task you should think of a proper introduction, development and conclusion. The next step is sketching in a few lines every single part of the essay; that will be very useful should you find yourself in front of the blank page feeling you have nothing to say. Don’t worry: that is called writer’s block and it’s quite common. Just remember filling the blanks on a sketch is easier than writing the whole paper from scratch.
Expand your sources
When you are researching for history essays, do not constraint yourself to one or two authors. Go to the library and investigate the topic you have decided to write about. For example, if you are writing about British colonies in the 16th century, look up for articles in history magazines, interview an expert on the subject, read a couple of articles in dictionaries and encyclopedias before actually starting to write.
We have already established that the best you can do is read others that have written long before you. Then, think about quoting them in an appropriate way. Don’t forget to use inverted commas and specify the book (title, author, publisher, year) where you took the information from. And always take into account than repeating other people’s words without quoting them appropriately is called plagiarism, and it can be strictly punished. Appropriate quotes are useful for supporting the student’s own ideas and point of view. On the other hand, no one can’t write a history paper made only from quotes: the writer’s own ideas must have some importance too.
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