Reading, Writing and Researching for History

Written by: Patrick Rael (Bowdoin College)

An Associate Professor of History at Bowdoin College, Patrick Rael, has created a wonderful resource for students. Reading, Writing and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students was developed, in great part, for students who will not be making the study of history their life’s work. Rael talks about history professors who often fail to convey their passion for the past to their students. They don’t always help guide students to ask questions with a critical, analytical eye. Yet, they often request students to display both that passion and critical thinking in their writing assignments.

Real has set out to help students overcome many of those difficulties. His researching history guide will help students to complete research paper assignments that will impress professors and maybe even get students excited about studying history. He shares tips on finding source materials, evaluating those sources and how to ask questions. He goes into great detail on information gathering and then provides assistance in writing the paper.

I’ve looked over Real’s researching history guide and I think it is a great resource for all students. In my mind, anything that helps students learn how to pick apart statements to differentiate between facts, suppositions and unproven opinions is highly useful. I would recommend this resource to all Freshmen students as it could prove extremely helpful in making the transition from high school to college reading and writing assignments.

Table of Contents

Preparing History Papers: the Short Version
Avoid Common Mistakes in Your History Paper
How to Read a Secondary Source
How to Read a Primary Source
Predatory Reading
Some Keys to Good Reading
Historical Arguments
Argument Concepts
Analyzing Arguments
How to Ask Good Questions
What Makes a Question Good?
From Observation to Hypothesis
Research Papers
The Research Process
Keeping a Research Journal
Structuring Your Paper
Structuring Your Essay
The Three Parts of a History Paper
The Thesis
History and Rhetoric
Writing Your Paper
Grammar for Historians
Formatting Your Paper
A Style Sheet for History Writers
The Scholarly Voice: Crafting Historical Prose
Working with Sources
Presenting Primary Sources in Your Paper
Citing Sources
Advanced Citation
Editing and Evaluation
Paper-writing Checklist
Peer Evaluations
Frequent Grading Comments
Generic Evaluation Rubric for Papers
The Writing Model
Samples for Presentation
Sample Road Map

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Reading, Writing and Researching for History

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