Getting Started… Choose a theme

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AP United States History Research Paper

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.

Getting Started…

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.

6. Papers must be submitted to on the DUE DATE to receive credit. A Grade of

ZERO will be given if it is not on
Paper Requirements:

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.

  1. Grabber

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

  1. Background Information

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.

  1. 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.

Works Cited in Chicago Style

At least Five sources are required (Variety is EXPECTED)

  • Print, Online Library Databases and Free websites. You should have at least ONE of each.

  • You should use at least one book that is not an encyclopedia. Textbooks do not count.

  • At least three of your sources should be a primary source (text, image, cartoon, speech, etc.)

  • Wikipedia and the Pageant are not acceptable reference sources.

Papers that have more primary and scholarly sources, and those that have more footnotes are generally better research papers.

Slowly, read your paper aloud to yourself: you will hear errors that you might not see otherwise. Have someone else read your paper to help you catch errors.

Rough Draft Peer Edit Worksheet
Name on Paper: _________________________ Name of Peer Editor: __________________________
Basic Format______________________________________________________________

Is the essay typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times Font? Y N

Is the essay divided into sections including Y N

Intro., Supp. #1, Supp. #2, Supp. #3, and Conclusion with

no extra spaces between paragraphs? Y N


Does it contain an effective grabber? Y N

Does it provide a concise background/framework for the thesis? Y N

Does it contain an effective thesis statement that takes a clear position? Y N

Does it contain an essay map that states the major supporting arguments? Y N

Support #1________________________________________________________________

Does support # 1 reflect the essay map’s organization? Y N

Does the first support contain specific and persuasive information to

back up reason #1? Y N

Is the first support fully developed and included citations? Y N

Support #2________________________________________________________________

Does support # 2 reflect the essay map’s organization? Y N

Does the second support contain specific and persuasive information to

back up reason #2? Y N

Is the second support fully developed and included citations? Y N

Support #3________________________________________________________________

Does support # 3 reflect the essay map’s organization? Y N

Does the third support contain specific and persuasive information to

back up reason #3? Y N

Is the third support fully developed and included citations? Y N

Conclusion and Concession________________________________________________

Does the concession bring up some exceptions to their thesis? Y N

Did the reader provide effective rebuttals? Y N

Does the conclusion sum up the main points of the argument in an

effective way? Y N

Does it leave the reader with something new to consider? Y N


The essay contains correctly cited quotes and paraphrases. Y N

The quotes help make the author’s points. Y N

The Bibliography page is in the correct format. Y N


There are little to no spelling mistakes. Y N

There are little to no punctuation mistakes. Y N

There are little to no grammar mistakes. Y N

The same verb tense is maintained throughout. Y N

There are at least 3 different arguments to support the thesis. Y N

The writing style makes for an easily understandable paper. Y N


Circle the words I, me, mine, you, your, we, our, ours, and us if they appear anywhere in the draft other than inside quoted passages. Direct the author to ELIMINATE THEM!!!

Research Paper Rubric Name: ______________________________

v.t = verb tense agreement, awk. = awkward sentence structure, rep. = repetitive phrases and words

rel. = relevance of a fact to the essay, ind. = indent, dbl. = double space, w.c = word choice,

sp. = spelling mistake, punc. = punctuation, in-text or cite = lacking in-text citation, contr = contraction
Format and Organization____________________________ /10 Points:

  • Cover Page –Contains all major information, creative title, name, teacher, class period

  • Format – Double Spaced, 12 Font/Times New Roman, 1.25 inch margins, 5-6 Mature paragraphs; there will be a deduction for more or fewer than this amount.

Introduction /10 points

  • Intro –Possesses a strong grabber, provides clear context of the essay, sets up the thesis

  • Thesis – Contains a clear, well developed and sophisticated thesis statement with a position.

  • Essay Map- Contains an effective & complete essay map clearly indicating the direction of the essay.

Body Paragraphs (10 points each) _____ /30 points

  • Quality of the Argument – Supports all aspects of the thesis statement fully. Thesis statement is supported analytically rather than simply descriptively.

  • Quality of Evidence – Contains substantial, relevant and significant supporting information.

  • Accuracy – May contain a minor mistakes that does not detract from the quality of the essay.

Concession________________________________________________________/ 10 points

  • Contains a thoughtful consideration of opposing viewpoints and exceptions to the thesis position.

  • Counteracts these examples with accurate and forceful rebuttals.

Conclusion________________________________________________________/ 10 points

  • Contains a thorough and satisfactory summary of thesis and major arguments.

  • Leads the reader out of the essay with significant understanding and insight into the issue

Footnote Citations____________________________________________________/ 10 Points

  • Conform to Chicago style. Average 3 or more per paragraph.

  • Quotes and paraphrasing of ideas are BOTH cited in the essay.

  • Research is excellently diversified; sources are thoroughly and effectively integrated throughout.

Works Cited Page _________________________________________________/ 5 Points

  • Conforms exactly to Chicago Style. All required sources are cited in the footnotes. Proper sources and legitimate websites are used.

  • The student has exceeded the required number and type of required sources.

Organization and Clarity_____________________________________________/ 15 Points

  • Shows evidence of superior organization; exceptionally well written; minimal grammatical errors;

  • Essay achieves flow throughout. Evidence presented logically.

Final Grade: ____________/100 Points

Major Deductions:

  • Late (minus 10 points per day).

  • Not Submitted on (No grade will be given)

  • Missing Footnote Citations, Works Cited Page, Citations Do not conform to Chicago format

  • Less Than 5-6 Full paragraphs, large spaces/ margins, Excessive use of long quotes, etc.

  • Major spelling and grammar mistakes, problems mar comprehension, not proofread/edited

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