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How to write a Historical Thesis?

We all know that our present is related to the past, and history is an inquiry in the past. As a part of higher studies in History, a Research Thesis writing is a part of the curriculum in graduation. It is sometimes the entire curriculum at masters, doctoral or post-doctoral level. When writing a historical research paper, your goal is to choose a topic and write a paper that should:

  • Ask an arguable historical question
  • Tell its interpretation by connecting it to previous work by other historians
  • Offer a well-structured and impactful thesis by itself.

Choice of topic is very important for a thesis and can also be very time consuming. This is because once you have a topic in mind, it is required to find out what other scholars have written about the topic of choice. If they've used the same sources you had planned and arrived the same conclusions, there's no point in repeating their work.

It is better to pick a topic that your batch mates and even a lay man down the street could find interesting or useful. Topic that has its roots in the past with consequences in the present conditions is likely to get more readership.

Once the topic is chosen find and analyse the sources of data and literature; both primary and secondary. A thesis paper requires detailed research, i.e. finding the relevant primary sources, secondary literature, etc. and evaluating all the entire material. The secondary sources are usually skimmed through and the general lines of argument seen through that relate to your topic. Details about all the sources used is mentioned as the Bibliography.

Bibliography is followed up the by the introduction. It begins by giving details of the event, on what happened and establishing itsimportance. The best way to narrow down the research question is to restrict the question's range by localising factors such as location, time period etc. The introduction also includes one of the most important part of the paper; the thesis statement. A thesis statement is the idea about which the entire paper is constructed. The function of thesis paragraph, i:e the first paragraph of the introduction, is to define the problem your paper addresses, define the key words and concepts used, and presents your argument in summary. In a thesis paragraph is short and precise;space to mention anything more than to fulfil the purposes stated above, does not exist. The thesis statementshould be thelast sentence of this paragraph.

Your research is meantto provide the information and evidence to prove your thesis statement in the body of your paper.This section is known as the argument. Marshall your resources such that evidence to support your thesis statement is to be found and expressed. However, this does not imply simple pilling up of facts. If others have taken different stands on this argument in the past on your topic, justify the reason of your agreement or disagreement with them. The structure of the paper should be as such that each paragraph should contain atleast one major point with advances your argument.

This is followed by the conclusion. A Historical thesis highlights an event of the past and hence, doesn’t have a definite result. The conclusion on the other hand, should reinforce in the reader's mind, the importance of the entire argument.

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