This paper may be on anything related to American History: a person, topic, or controversy. Because the paper is so open-ended, choosing and refining a topic may be the most difficult task. Here are some tips.
1. Choose a theme
Ex: (Political, Social, Intellectual, Artistic, Cultural, Environmental or Economic).
2. Choose a topic or a question from a specific time period/s.
Ex: (Colonial, Antebellum, Civil War, Gilded Age, early 20th Century, or Cold War Era)
3. Develop a research question that takes a novel position on a historical topic or event.
Both the topic and research question must be cleared with your teacher.
4. Research background information on your topic and research question.
Make sure you have enough sources to draw from before finalizing your topic. If your research topic and question do not change during your research, you are probably not doing quality research.
Depth of research is essential. If we have read about it, or could read about it in the Pageant or on Wikipedia, it is considered common knowledge. Your piece should incorporate research and sources that are beyond common knowledge.
5. Develop a thesis statement that answers your research question and takes a Position.
6. Develop a concession if appropriate. The point here is to show that you have considered alternative
arguments that answer your research question. You must then explain why your argument is the
7. Please see me if you are stuck or need help. It is recommended to check in from time to time.
AVOID Doing your paper on something we already did in class. Go in depth on a topic, discover a new angle, connection or theory, and choose something you are interested in.
Final paper due: _____________________________ Submit to Turnitin by midnight
Important Issues to Remember:
1. Technological issues are not excuses for late submission. Make sure that you are set up with
Turnitin and ready to submit to make the deadline.
2. If you miss days of class research, that is not a legitimate excuse to turn in a paper late. If you
miss several days due to illness, see me before the paper is due to discuss an accurate timeline.
3. A standard deduction for late papers will be discussed in class.
4. If there are any issues that prevent you from turning in your paper on time, please see me prior to
the start of the school day in person. Do not wait until the start of class to discuss your issues.
5. You MUST turn in your OWN Research paper. Failure to do so will result in a grade of ZERO (0) and disciplinary action. You may not use another person’s paper, buy a paper, and plagiarize a text or submit a poorly cited paper lacking a works cited page.
ZERO will be given if it is not on Turnitin.com.
Title Page: The Title should be Interesting, Informative and Engaging. Also include your name, course, and date on the title page (Chicago Style). Your first page should begin with the first line of the paper.
1. DOUBLE SPACED, 12 point/ Times New Roman Font, Standard margins (nothing more than 1.25).
2. 5-6 pages length, no more than six paragraphs. This includes your footnotes. The bibliography does not count as a page.
3. No extra spaces between paragraphs. No long quotes to fill space
4. Chicago Footnote Style
Creating an Introductory Paragraph:
Any good introductory paragraph has three parts: a Grabber, Background Information and a Thesis Statement, followed by an Essay Map. Make sure to establish what your topic is about and how you are going to approach it. What is your angle or position? Why is this topic important? What have you come to understand about it? You must capture our interest and attention.
The introductory paragraph should begin with a sentence that grabs the reader’s attention and interest. A grabber sentence may be a(n): Quote, Startling statement, Question, Statement of general interest, Anecdote (a brief story), Statistics, Definition
Some information to identify what your paper is about, such as a broad description of your topic and its significance. This is your framework within which you will make your argument.
Thesis Statement/Essay Map
A good thesis is a one or two sentence statement that takes a position about an issue or an event. It is a debatable statement of opinion; a concise and specific statement of your argument. A thesis statement will often answer the question “So What? Who Cares? Why is this important?” The essay map follows your thesis statement and states the major reasons (3) for your argument. Each reason will be expanded to create the body of your paper. The essay map is a summary of your evidence or logic.
Body paragraphs with support information and analysis:
Your paper must be well organized. The argument should follow logically from the thesis statement through the conclusion. Your thesis must be thoroughly supported with evidence. You need to create flow from thought to thought, paragraph to paragraph. Quotes and paraphrasing are important sources of legitimate evidence. Weave together your ideas with others. Follow the order of your thesis statement. You will be assessed on the accuracy, clarity and organization of your argument. You will also be assessed on the relevance and quality of the facts that you use.
Concession statement considers alternate points of view and provides several examples. However, the concession must include why these other viewpoints are NOT as valid as your paper’s position.
Conclusion does more than merely restate the thesis. Leave the reader with something new to think about, a connection to another concept or an insightful thought. This is the last idea that should echo in the reader’s mind.