HISTORY COURSE PAPER INSTRUCTIONS
Assignment:�Select a topic from the list provided by your instructor or one approved by your instructor.
1.���LENGTH: Your paper must be at least 5 full, typed pages (text) (minimum of 1500 words), double-spaced, with one inch margins.� Maps and illustrations are in addition to the 5 pages of text.
2.���RESEARCH: Your paper must have a works cited page with a minimum of FOUR solid sources DO NOT USE your textbook, general encyclopedias, or an on-line or CD encyclopedia (like Encarta) as a cited source in your paper.� You should use both printed and online sources. If you need help finding appropriate sources, ask your instructor and/or a reference librarian for help.
3.���CITATIONS: You MUST include citations in the body of your paper to indicate the source of all the information you used from your research sources. A list of your sources on the Works Cited page IS NOT ENOUGH. See �Citation of Sources� below for more detailed instructions on citations. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your instructor to explain it. You cannot receive above a C- (71) on a research paper that does not have citations. Document the sources of the information you use in the MLA format. If you do not understand what is meant by the MLA format, ask your instructor to explain it. Do not assume that the way you did a research paper in high school or another college or for another class is the right way. Ask your instructor if you have any doubts or questions about doing citations.
4.���Be sure to keep a duplicate copy of your paper in case the original is lost.�
Papers are due in class on the day designated in the syllabus and on the course calendar.� All students must submit a paper to pass the course.�
Suggestions for Writing a Research Paper:�
1.���Choosing a topic: Start with your textbook. Look up some of topics using the index and read about them. Don�t overlook the illustrations. Or pick a historical period and country that interests you. You can also use an encyclopedia, Encarta, or the Internet to help you decide if a topic interests you. Even though you cannot use general reference works as specific sources in your paper, they are a good place to get started.
2.���Doing Research:Start with very general books such as a history of a civilization, people, region or country (e.g. Roman history, British history, Middle East), a period of history (e.g. Ancient history, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation), or the history of a subject (e.g. science, art, a religion). Try to learn as much as you can about the country and century appropriate to your topic. Gradually narrow your research down until finally you focus on specific events and people. If you use a book that is specifically about your topic, you should not have to read the whole book. You should already know enough about your subject to be able to look up specific facts, quotations, and events for more detailed information.
Use a variety of sources (books, articles, internet, videos). Try to use a PRIMARY SOURCE. This is something written by someone who lived during the time you are writing about � an eyewitness account, something written by one of the historical characters in your paper, or a history written at the time. You are not limited to the Trident Tech library (Learning Resource Center). Try the libraries at the College of Charleston and The Citadel, as well as the public library downtown (on Calhoun Street with free parking for one hour).�
3.���Finding the Thesis: You need a PURPOSE to guide your research and organize your paper. Begin with a research question like, �What was it like to live in this time and country?,�� �What happened?� �Why and how did it happen this way?� �Who were the important people?� �How did they shape events?�� �What made this person stand out in his/her time?� �Why was this event an important turning point in history?� As you find answers to these questions, select a significant theme relating to the events, person, place, and time of your topic and put it into a statement that answers some of your research questions. This is your THESIS. Deciding on a thesis is the most important step in your research. It will tell you what is relevant and help you select the information that you will use in your paper.�
���� Your thesis should be limited to the time period of your paper. Don’t try to connect or compare your topic to the present. This is a more demanding type of paper and beyond what you are expected to do in this course.�
4.���Writing the Paper:THIS IS THE HARDEST PART. DON�T PUT IT OFF UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. You will probably enjoy doing the research and the tendency is to keep researching right up to the last minute, thinking that you are making progress. The research is the easiest part. SET YOURSELF A DEADLINE to stop researching and START WRITING at least a week before the paper is due. If you want me to look at a draft and give you suggestions, you must give me the draft no later than a week before the paper is due.�
IMPORTANT: I do not want you to write just description of a country, a narrative of events, or a biography of a person. History is not just what happened, but why and how it happened, and the significance. How did things change? Why did they stay the same?
INTRODUCTION: Your opening paragraph should briefly introduce your subject (person, place, and time), and, most importantly, state the thesis or purpose statement of your paper.�
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: You have to put the events into a historical context. One way to begin your paper might be to describe a place and a period of time.� To do this effectively, you may have to briefly describe the society, events, important institutions (e.g. society, government, religion, warfare, cities) and leaders of the period.�
NARRATIVE OF EVENTS: Rather than trying to tell everything about a place and time or a person�s life, select formative influences, turning points, and greatest achievements or failures. Describe what happened, who the important characters and groups were in the events, why events happened as they did. The quality of your history (and your grade!) depends both on which facts and information you decide to include and your interpretation and explanation of those facts. Be sure to adequately EXPLAIN the causes and significance of important events. DO NOT ASSUME I know what you are writing about.�
CONSEQUENCES: Discuss the immediate consequences of the events. What changed? What was the impact on the people involved, their country, maybe the world. DO NOT make judgments about how an event has affected the modern world or our lives today unless you are writing about a recent event (in the last 50 years).�
WRITE IN THE PAST TENSE. To avoid confusion in which verb tense to use, I recommend writing in the past tense throughout your paper. Do not skip back and forth from present to pasttenses. It is not necessary to mention your sources (historians and books) in the text of your paper. I don�t want a paper about historians or histories, but about history. But be sure to use the MLA citation to credit the sources of your information.
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5.���Citation of Sources:YOU MUST USE CITATIONS to tell your reader the source of all the facts and opinions in your paper that you get from your research. You must have a citation for all the information from your research material, EVEN IF IT IS NOT A DIRECT QUOTATION. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO USE A DIRECT QUOTATION for the information you use in your paper from your research source, but you must give a citation even if you do not quote from your source. Avoid overusing direct quotations. It is usually better to put the material in your own words along with a citation of its source. BE SURE TO USE THE CORRECT MLA FORMAT for citations. For example, a reference to a fact on page 17 of a book by Adam Smith would look like this: (Smith 17). For other citation formats refer to the MLA Handbook or you can find instructions online. Also be sure to give complete information on all your research sources on your WORKS CITED PAGE.
OTHER IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR CITATIONS:
A.�����As a rule of thumb, most of the paragraphs in the body of your paper (except the introduction and conclusion) would normally have at least one citation per paragraph.
B.�����Avoid using direct quotations too much. It is usually better to put the information in your own words as long as you include a citation of its source. I do not want you to use over 5 direct quotations in your paper. Do not include more than two lengthy quotations (over four lines). Quotations over four lines should be indented without quotation marks. YOU MUST USE A CITATION FOR ALL THE INFORMATION you use from your research sources, EVEN IF YOU DO NOT DIRECTLY QUOTE the author�s words from the source.
C.�����Make sure the information or opinion you include in your paper from one of your sources MAKES SENSE in your paper. You may have to explain people, events, or terms that are mentioned in the quotation or paraphrased segment you extracted from your source.
D.� The way that the MLA Handbook and most English courses suggest to do citations is to mention the author and/or book in your paper. For example, you would write:�
According to historian Robert Palmer in his History of the British Empire, Great Britain was the superpower in the 19th century (118). [The number in parentheses indicated the page number in Palmers book on which that information is found.]
����� I prefer that you NOT mention the source of the citation in the sentence itself, but put it in the citation after the sentence. For example:
Great Britain was the superpower in the 19th century (Palmer 118)
Citations are one of the most difficult parts of doing a good research paper. If you have not written a college research paper before or have not taken ENG 101, you may need help from your instructor or the Writing Center (building 100, room 157).
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