You will complete the assignment faster and more efficient if you divide the whole work into several sections or steps. Writing a good and strong introduction part is important because this is the first thing your reader will see. It gives the first impression of your essay and induces people to reading or not reading it. To make the introduction catchy and interesting, express the contention and address the main question of the essay.
Be confident and clear as this is the moment when you define the direction your whole essay will take. And remember that introduction is not the right place for rambling! The best of all is, to begin with, a brief context summary, then go to addressing the question and express the content. Finally, mark the direction your essay about history will take.
Its quality depends on how clear you divided the whole essay into sections in the previous part. As long as you have provided a readable and understandable scheme, your readers will know exactly what to expect. The body of your essay must give a clear vision of what question you are considering.
In this section, you can develop your idea and support it with the evidence you have found. Use certain facts and quotations for that. When being judicial and analytical, they will help you to easily support your point of view and argument. It is allowed to summarize the most essential background information, for example, instead of giving a precise list of all the issues that matter.
It is not only essential to start your essay well. How you will end it also matters. Your conclusion must leave to chance for further discussion or arguments on the case. That is why it is strongly forbidden to provide any new evidence or information here, as well as start a new discussion, etc.
After you finish writing, give yourself some time and put the paper away for a while. Is it primarily the violent challenge to royal authority in , the creation of a new political order, a marked ideological discontinuity, the process of socio-economic change, or, if a combination of all of these, which takes precedence and requires most explanation?
What do you understand by causes? These issues need discussing explicitly, out-in-the-open. That is key to a good essay at university level. They should not be left unspoken and unaddressed; and your discussion of them should reflect your awareness that issues are involved in the analysis, and that you are capable of addressing them.
You also need to be aware that there will be different answers and this should guide your handling of the concepts. This leads into Methodology. In this section, you should explicitly address the issue of how scholars, including yourself, can handle the conceptual questions.
This follows the previous point closely. What sources should scholars use and how should they use them? If you discuss the latter, you underline the fact that the Revolution led to civil war, and that the causes of what you present as the Revolution were not a mass rejection of the existing system. You also point out that in few people envisaged what they were expected to support in a republic and the trial of the king let alone the Reign of Terror.
The Revolution is thus presented and studied as a dynamic, changing process, which requires different explanations at particular stages. A key feature of university work is that you need to address explicitly the degree to which historians hold different views, and why, and to show that you understand that these views change, and can locate your own essay in their debates.
Sounds difficult? Well, these approaches add interest and understanding, and help make your degree a worthwhile process of education and exposition. He is the author, with Donald M. MacRaild, of Studying History Palgrave, 3rd edition, Jeremy Black prepares readers for the rigours of university history.
They must contribute to the critical argument, and that requires an ability to engage with three elements if the essay is to be a good one: Conceptualisation Methodology Historiography. Conceptualisation Many questions relate to key concepts in history. Methodology In this section, you should explicitly address the issue of how scholars, including yourself, can handle the conceptual questions. Historiography A key feature of university work is that you need to address explicitly the degree to which historians hold different views, and why, and to show that you understand that these views change, and can locate your own essay in their debates.
Work out your approach. Write a detailed essay plan, with different points per paragraph. Have an introduction in which you reveal your understanding of the current debate in interpretations. Remember to handle the concepts in the question and in your answer clearly. Remember to introduce the relevant historical methods explicitly.
Spend time "mulling over" your topic. Make a list of the ideas you want to include in the essay, then think about how to group them under several different headings. Often, you will see an organizational plan emerge from the sorting process. Idea 4. Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement which you will need to revise later.
Here are a few examples:. These formulas share two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work. As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis. Here are examples of weak and strong thesis statements.
You are the best and only! Your thesis is defenseless without you to prove that its argument holds up under scrutiny. The jury i. To prove thesis statements on historical topics, what evidence can an able young lawyer use? Remember -- if in doubt, talk to your instructor. See writing. Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument. What is an Argument?
Provides a "hook" on which you can "hang" your topic sentences. Can and should be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis. Gives your paper a unified structure and point. Keeps the reader focused on your argument. Signals to the reader your main points. Engages the reader in your argument. Tips for Writing a Good Thesis Find a Focus: Choose a thesis that explores an aspect of your topic that is important to you, or that allows you to say something new about your topic.
Look for Pattern: After determining a general focus, go back and look more closely at your evidence. As you re-examine your evidence and identify patterns, you will develop your argument and some conclusions. For example, you might find that as industrialization increased, women made fewer textiles at home, but retained their butter and soap making tasks. Strategies for Developing a Thesis Statement Idea 1. Refine As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis.
Unspecific thesis: "Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong leader as First Lady. What are his or her stated and unstated assumptions? What kind of evidence supports the arguments and how is it used? What do particular documents or texts tell you about the time in which they were written? Your questions will be the beginning of your own thesis. As noted above, all serious writing is done in drafts, and not the night before. Even if you are pressed for time as, of course, you will be give yourself enough time to review and revise your own writing.
Students will sometimes turn in papers they have never actually read themselves; this is a mistake which shows. Think of the first or "preliminary" draft as a detailed outline. Establish your thesis and see how it looks in writing. Is it too general or specific? Does it address the questions asked by the instructor? Because the thesis is so critical, small changes in it will have a big impact. Don't be afraid to refine it as often as necessary as you continue reading and writing.
Now you have completed your draft. Return to your introduction. Is the thesis clearly stated? Have you established the argument and evidence you will present? Rephrase your thesis if necessary. You may not even be clear about the final thesis until you have written much of the paper itself and seen how the argument holds together. Add examples or delete non-relevant materials and make sure paragraphs connect with transitions and topic sentences. Proofread the work: set it aside for some time and come back to it, or try reading it aloud to yourself if your roommates are tolerant.
Some classes, such as the History Seminar, have students critique each others' research drafts, often several times. Such exercises are invaluable opportunities to learn how other people read you, and how to be fair, judicious, and helpful in your own critiques.
Whenever possible try to have someone else read your work and comment on it. Finally, check for sense, grammar, spelling, and mechanical and typographical errors. Show respect for your reader by not making him or her wade through a sloppy manuscript. Details may not make or break a work, but they make a definite impression about how much you care.
Every professor or instructor has his or her own standards for excellent, good, average, and unacceptable work. A common grading misunderstanding arises from a student belief that answering a question "correctly" in essay form means an automatic "A. This is only "competent" work. How well you write is what makes the difference. Do you detail your arguments, define terms, make logical connections, expand points, develop ideas, read sources in original and imaginative ways?
The difference between competent and excellent work is difficult to define. Read your own work critically. Are you making the easy points most students would make? Are you really citing and examining the texts?
Have you developed original interpretations? Have you given careful thought to argument and presentation, and the logic of your conclusions? Excellent work begins when you challenge yourself. Students are sometimes overwhelmed when asked to produce original, critical work. What could they say which has not already been said by an expert? No one asks you to be an expert. Your originality lies in your talent as a critical reader and a thoughtful writer. Whether you are studying many sources for a research paper or a few passages from one text for a book review, what matters is how you select, present, and interpret materials.
You must at all costs avoid plagiarism, which is a crime and means automatic failure. Plagiarism means taking credit for work which is not your own, and can involve: 1 copying directly or paraphrasing without acknowledgment from published sources; 2 purchasing essays and term papers; 3 having someone else do the assignment for you; 4 turning in a paper previously submitted for another or the same class.
Pay attention to point 1: changing the wording of a passage is still plagiarism if you don't credit the author for the ideas you are borrowing. Points are obvious cases of cheating. A strict definition of plagiarism is as follows:. Although it is generally recognized that everything an individual has thought has probably been influenced to some degree by the previously expressed thoughts and actions of others, such influences are general.
Plagiarism involves the deliberate taking of specific words and ideas of others without proper acknowledgment. Butters and George D. Avoid plagiarism by preparing well, relying on your own words and judgments, and—when citing evidence—using proper bibliographic and footnote forms.
Attention to plagiarism should not discourage you from using sources to the fullest; on the contrary it should challenge you to think critically about how you make ideas your own, what debts you owe to others, and how you put the two together to do intellectually honest and original writing. When turning in papers, always keep a copy for yourself; papers do on occasion disappear. Standard format is double-spaced with wide enough margins for reader's comments.
Don't forget to put your name, the class name, and the title of the paper on the first page. Always number the pages for easy reference. For questions on the stylistic, grammatical, or technical points of preparation, familiarize yourself with the standard reference guides used by all professional writers, such as The Chicago Manual of Style now in a 14th edition , or Kate L. There you will find information on such topics as proper footnote style. We have included some of the standard forms below:.
As noted in the introduction, this guide is a very general formula for writing essays. The goal—and the goal of university education in general—is for you to develop your own methods, strategies, and style. In writing, follow the guidelines, but do not be formulaic.
Originality, creativity, and personal style are not crimes if done well. Make use of this guide, but remember that your greatest resources will be your teachers, fellow students, and the other academic programs of the university. Rutgers Today. Academic Calendar. Calendar of Events. SAS Home. Division of Life Sciences. Department of History.
Program Professional Outcomes. Foreign Relations Women's and Gender History.