A school’s curricula encompass diverse disciplines, and among them, exist history. Students have to decide if they will major in the subject or something else in high school and college. However, history proves crucial to every student. It proves the reason why everything started, and therefore, contains some history of some sort. Everything about life and everything in existence gets surrounded in history.
Students new to a history class might get confused when their instructors require them to write history. The reason stems from the fact that history writing entails far more than writing a string of chronologically sound historical truths. It encompasses shaping truths into a logical whole that can explain the cause and its effect besides addressing an event’s wider impact.
History as a discipline in academics, therefore, implies interpretive craft. It encompasses tracing the impact of a particular change something has on the world rather than focusing on static descriptions of past items, issues, or people.
History Writing in Academia
When a student writes history, they have to answer the historical question in their paper. It can enquire what or who caused an event to happen, why it happened, when the event occurred, and the effect the event had. It can also address how an institution or situation gradually changed with time.
History writing involves different narratives, with every event having multiple perspectives. Knowing everything about a past event cannot eliminate room for debate and different views about the event, especially concerning the fact-string and flow. In as much as the evidential remnant never seem sufficient, some documents, such as interviews, newspapers, maps, photographs, documents, etc., can provide some information.
A historian, therefore, has a mandate to reconstruct past events based on the evidence they can lay their hands and eyes on. Consequently, it can explain why every historian keeps writing books and articles on similar subjects. The perspective of a current historian can differ from a past historian. It can get based on the level and amount of evidence they have. Similarly, when you start writing a history piece, you thrust yourself into the history fact-string conversation.
Types of Data Sources
Writing history comes with two data source domains, the primary and secondary types of data sources.
- Primary sources. Such sources prove current with the study events under investigation. It can include newspapers, court records, letters, historical accounts that come prove interview-based with real participants entangled in the study events.
- Secondary sources. Such sources come after the actual event and can include books, history textbooks, articles, journals, etc. Most history writing in college involves secondary sources of information. Instructors will require you to study and analyze a set text authored by historians concerning a past occurrence. You have to decipher the author’s arguments and to determine if you approve of it. Additionally, you have to keep in mind that your interpretation might differ from that of a historian, though that cannot make their argument false. Once you determine your argument, then you can reference the evidence provided by historians in developing your paper. You can do this by engaging them in the fronted historical question.
Some advanced papers like seminar papers or honors theses can prove primary-sourced based. Most of the time, your instructor will require you to analyze a document that contains primary information sources in the form of a short assignment.
How to Determine a Brilliant Research Question
You have to get an excellent research question to write a brilliant history piece. The first step entails getting a question that can have a personally intriguing answer, in as much as you have no clue of what the answer might prove. The research question should also come as a problem that can get solved. Additionally, it also has to prove a question that you can get adequate primary sources when it comes to content. Finally, ensure that you thoroughly investigate the sources you chose.
History writing can prove simple once you understand what you have to write about. Consider the guidelines and information provided before embarking on the writing process.