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World History Project Guide: Writing for History Papers

Writing Research Papers for History

Analytical Research Paper Components:

1.  Begin with an Introduction to your research with your thesis statement: Your thesis should answer your research question that you created and researched with reputable sources. Research question example: What is the Purpose of Trickster Gods/Goddesses?  Thesis example: While trickster gods are often shown to be selfish, silly, or wrongheaded, they also help people identify with situations and lessons contained in cultural myths. 

2.  Support for thesis: Your body paragraphs

  • Evidence: Evidence supports your thesis statement. Select the strongest, most relevant facts and examples to explain your claim. Your evidence will include examples, details, information, and quotations that support your thesis.
  • Analysis and/or significance to historical patterns:  Evidence does not speak for itself. Evidence without analysis and interpretation only amounts to a list of facts or events. Explain to the reader in your own words what meaning to take from a piece of evidence. Your explanation of the evidence tells the reader why a particular fact or quote is important and how it supports your thesis statement.

3. Formatted Bibliography (Chicago Full Note) created using MyBib.com.  Sources must be reputable, and scholarly sources must be used.


Adapted from UMT: 
An Example of Supportive Evidence: 

Too general: Stalinist culture glorified the achievements of individual workers. 

Revised: During the Stalinist industrialization drive of the 1930s, individual workers were encouraged to over fulfill their work quotas and received recognition for doing so.  For example, Aleksei Stakhanov supposedly moved 102 tons of coal during his shift (14 times his quota). Afterwards, the periodical Pravda featured Stakhanov who received praise from party officials. 

Avoid presenting a mere narrative/description of events:  Explain and analyze your examples and facts. What conclusions do you want your reader to draw from them? What do the examples and facts reveal?  Explain why the example or fact makes your point.  Explain the connection between the example and your thesis/argument. 

An Example of Analysis and Interpretation:

Analysis is where the author most clearly shows her/his mind at work. Consider the example above concerning Aleksei Stakhanov and the Stakhanovite movement. What if the author simply told the audience that Aleksei Stakhanov moved 102 tons of coal during his shift? Why would we care? Evidence without explanation or interpretation does not move an argument forward. The author is using the evidence to show that workers’ achievements were glorified under Stalin during the 1930s. The next step is to connect the evidence to the thesis statement. 

Let’s say the author’s thesis is: “The glorification of impossible achievements made workers fearful and competitive under Stalinist industrial culture in the 1930s, contributing to the divisive atmosphere that would foster the purges.” How does Aleksei Stakhanov relate to this argument? 

Analysis: The glorification of Aleksei Stakhanov for an impossible achievement, staged by factory officials, reveals that the Stakhanovite movement was based upon impossible expectations. The average factory worker’s inability to perform the heroic feats, applauded by newspapers and party leaders, contributed to the accusations of “wrecking” that would lead to ostracism and even execution.