A College History Essay

Elucidation 01.07.2019

You will want to use search terms that are specific enough to address your topic without being so narrow that you get no results.

If your keywords are too general, you may receive thousands of results and feel overwhelmed. To help you narrow your search, go back to the key questions in the essay prompt that you wrote down in Step 1. Think about which terms would help you respond to the prompt. Also, look at the language your professor used in the prompt. You might be able to use some of those same words as search terms. Notice that the library website has different databases you can search depending on what type of material you need such as scholarly articles, newspapers, books and what subject and time period you are researching such as eighteenth-century England or college Rome.

Searching the database history relevant to your topic will yield the best results. Visit the library's History Research Guide for tips on the research process and on using library resources. You can also schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk specifically about your research project.

Or, make an appointment with staff at the History Writing Center for essay help. Visit our section about using electronic resources as well. Take stock and draft a thesis statement.

What could they say which has not already been said by an expert? There are an infinite number of ways to write an essay because any form of writing is a means of self-expression. Whenever possible try to have someone else read your work and comment on it. Remember, start revising at the global level.

By this point, you know what the college is asking, you have brainstormed history responses, and you have done some research. Now you need to step back, look at the material you have, and develop your argument. Based on the reading and research you have done, how might you answer the question s in the essay

A college history essay

What arguments do your sources allow you to make? Draft a thesis statement in which you clearly and succinctly history an argument that addresses the prompt. If you find writing a thesis daunting, remember that whatever you draft now is not set in essay. Your college will change.

Best online essay writers

Write your first draft. This step can feel overwhelming, but remember that you have already done a lot of work and--armed with your working thesis, source annotations, and outline--have all the tools needed. Do not feel that you have to work through your outline from beginning to end. Some writers find it helpful to begin with the section in which they feel most confident. Look at your outline and see if there is one part that is particularly fleshed out; you may want to begin there. Your goal in the draft is to articulate your argument as clearly as you can, and to marshal your evidence in support of your argument. Do not get too caught up in grammar or stylistic issues at this point, as you are more concerned now with the big-picture task of expressing your ideas in writing. If you have trouble getting started or are feeling overwhelmed, try free writing. Free writing is a low-stakes writing exercise to help you get past the blank page. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and write down everything you know about your paper: your argument, your sources, counterarguments, everything. Do not edit or judge what you are writing as you write; just keep writing until the timer goes off. You may be surprised to find out how much you knew about your topic. Of course, this writing will not be polished, so do not be tempted to leave it as it is. Remember that this draft is your first one, and you will be revising it. When you are writing up the evidence in your draft, you need to appropriately cite all of your sources. Appropriate citation has two components. You must both follow the proper citation style in your footnotes and bibliography, and document always but only when such documentation is required. Remember that you need to cite not just direct quotations, but any ideas that are not your own. Inappropriate citation is considered plagiarism. For more information about how and when to cite, visit our section on citations. Revise your draft. After you have completed an entire first draft, move on to the revision stage. Think about revising on two levels: the global and the local. The global level refers to the argument and evidence in your paper, while the local level refers to the individual sentences. Your first priority should be revising at the global level, because you need to make sure you are making a compelling and well-supported argument. A particularly helpful exercise for global-level revision is to make a reverse outline, which will help you look at your paper as a whole and strengthen the way you have organized and substantiated your argument. Print out your draft and number each of the paragraphs. Then, on a separate piece of paper, write down each paragraph number and, next to it, summarize in a phrase or a sentence the main idea of that paragraph. As you produce this list, notice if any paragraphs attempt to make more than one point: mark those for revision. Once you have compiled the list, read it over carefully. Study the order in which you have sequenced your ideas. Notice if there are ideas that seem out of order or repetitive. Look for any gaps in your logic. Does the argument flow and make sense? When revising at the local level, check that you are using strong topic sentences and transitions, that you have adequately integrated and analyzed quotations, and that your paper is free from grammar and spelling errors that might distract the reader or even impede your ability to communicate your point. One helpful exercise for revising on the local level is to read your paper out loud. Hearing your paper will help you catch grammatical errors and awkward sentences. Here is a checklist of questions to ask yourself while revising on both the global and local levels: - Does my thesis clearly state my argument and its significance? Remember, start revising at the global level. Once you are satisfied with your argument, move onto the local level. Put it all together: the final draft. After you have finished revising and have created a strong draft, set your paper aside for a few hours or overnight. When you revisit it, go over the checklist in Step 8 one more time. Read your paper out loud again too, catching any errors you might have missed before. At this stage in the process, you need to make sure you have taken care of all the details. Your paper needs to have a title that does not just announce the topic of the paper, but gives some indication of your argument. Reread the paper assignment and make sure you have met all of the professor's requirements: Do you need page numbers? A separate title page? Will you submit your paper electronically or in hard copy? You may already write well. Just remember that our subject here—critical, scholarly writing—has special requirements. In what follows we will briefly discuss the nature of historical writing, lay out a step by step model for constructing an essay, and provide a set of useful observations from our experience as instructors regarding problems that most frequently crop up in student writing. Section 1: What Is Historical Writing? Elements The basic elements of academic essay writing are two: a thesis and evidence, divided into three parts: an introduction, the systematic development of an argument, and a conclusion. All scholarly writing, from the most concise paper to the longest book, follows these basic guidlines. Thesis Historical essay writing is based upon the thesis. A thesis is a statement, an argument which will be presented by the writer. The thesis is in effect, your position, your particular interpretation, your way of seeing a problem. Resist the temptation, which many students have, to think of a thesis as simply "restating" an instructor's question. The writer should demonstrate originality and critical thinking by showing what the question is asking, and why it is important rather than merely repeating it. Your own informed perspective is what matters. Many first-year students ask whether the "thesis" is not just their "opinion" of a historical question. A thesis is indeed a "point of view," or "perspective," but of a particular sort: it is based not only on belief, but on a logical and systematic argument supported by evidence. The truism that we each have "our own" opinions misses the point. A good critical essay acknowledges that many perspectives are possible on any question, yet demonstrates the validity or correctness of the writer's own view. Thesis and Evidence To make a good argument you must have both a strong central thesis and plausible evidence; the two are interdependent and support each other. Some historians have compared the historian's craft to assembling and presenting a case before a jury. A strong statement of thesis needs evidence or it will convince no one. Equally, quotes, dates, and lists of details mean nothing by themselves. Your task is both to select the important "facts" and to present them in a reasonable, persuasive, and systematic manner which defends your position. To support your argument, you should also be competent in using footnotes and creating bibliographies for your work; neither is difficult, and both are requirements for truly professional scholarship. The footnote is a way of demonstrating the author's thesis against the evidence. In effect, it is a way of saying: "If you don't accept my thesis, you can check the evidence yourself. By keeping your notes accurate your argument will always be rooted in concrete evidence of the past which the reader can verify. See below for standard footnote forms. Historical Writing Be aware also that "historical" writing is not exactly the same as writing in other social sciences, in literature, or in the natural sciences. Though all follow the general thesis and evidence model, historical writing also depends a great deal on situating evidence and arguments correctly in time and space in narratives about the past. Historians are particularly sensitive to errors of anachronism—that is, putting events in an "incorrect" order, or having historical characters speak, think, and act in ways inappropriate for the time in which they were living. Reading the past principally in terms of your own present experience can also create problems in your arguments. Avoid grand statements about humanity in general, and be careful of theories which fit all cases. Make a point of using evidence with attention to specificity of time and place, i. Understand the question being asked. Pay attention to the way it is worded and presented. Can you properly define them? What sort of evidence is required to respond effectively? If you are developing your own topic, what are the important issues and what questions can you pose yourself? Prepare the material. Begin reading or re-reading your texts or documents. Students often ask: "How can I give you a thesis or write an introduction before I have done all the reading? Remember however that merely "reading everything" doesn't guarantee you'll do good writing. Some students rush through assignments, others highlight every line, both thinking that by counting pages or words they are doing well. As you read the important point is to identify critical arguments in the texts. Don't just read for "information. Thinking is rarely a pleasant undertaking, and most of us contrive to avoid it most of the time. So think as hard as you can about the meaning of the question, about the issues it raises and the ways you can answer it. You have to think and think hard — and then you should think again, trying to find loopholes in your reasoning. Eventually you will almost certainly become confused. If you get totally confused, take a break. When you return to the question, it may be that the problems have resolved themselves. If not, give yourself more time. You may well find that decent ideas simply pop into your conscious mind at unexpected times. You can of course follow the herd and repeat the interpretation given in your textbook. But there are problems here. First, what is to distinguish your work from that of everybody else? The advice above is relevant to coursework essays. But even here, you should take time out to do some thinking. Examiners look for quality rather than quantity, and brevity makes relevance doubly important. The Vital First Paragraph Every part of an essay is important, but the first paragraph is vital. This is the first chance you have to impress — or depress — an examiner, and first impressions are often decisive. You might therefore try to write an eye-catching first sentence. De Mille. More important is that you demonstrate your understanding of the question set. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues — in other words, the parameters of the question. Also, you divide the overall question into more manageable sub-divisions, or smaller questions, on each of which you will subsequently write a paragraph. You formulate an argument, or perhaps voice alternative lines of argument, that you will substantiate later in the essay. Hence the first paragraph — or perhaps you might spread this opening section over two paragraphs — is the key to a good essay. On reading a good first paragraph, examiners will be profoundly reassured that its author is on the right lines, being relevant, analytical and rigorous. They will probably breathe a sign of relief that here is one student at least who is avoiding the two common pitfalls. The first is to ignore the question altogether. The second is to write a narrative of events — often beginning with the birth of an individual — with a half-hearted attempt at answering the question in the final paragraph.

As you do more research, reread your sources, and write your paper, you will learn more about the topic and your argument. For now, produce a "working thesis," meaning, a thesis that represents your thinking up to this point. Remember it will almost certainly change as you move through the writing process. For more information, visit our section about thesis statements.

Once you have a thesis, you may find that you need to do more research targeted to your specific argument. Revisit some of the colleges from Step 3. Identify your key sources both primary and secondary and annotate them.

Now that you have a history thesis, look back over your sources and identify how many paragraphs is a 3 page essay ones are most critical to you--the ones you will be grappling with most directly in order to make your argument. Then, annotate them. Annotating sources means writing a paragraph that summarizes the main idea of the source as well as shows how you will use the source in your paper.

Think about what the source does for you. Does it provide evidence in support of your argument? Does it offer a counterpoint that you can then refute, based on your essay Does it provide critical historical background that you need in order to make a point?

For more information about annotating sources, visit our section on annotated bibliographies.

Policy change examples in goverment essay it might seem like this step creates more work for you by having to do more writing, it in fact serves two critical purposes: it helps you refine your essay thesis by distilling exactly what your sources are saying, and it helps smooth your writing process.

Having dissected your colleges and articulated your ideas about them, you can more easily draw upon them when constructing your paper. Even if you do not have to do outside research and are limited to working with the readings you have done in class, annotating sources is still very useful. Write down exactly how a particular section in the textbook or in a primary source reader will contribute to your paper.

Draft an outline of your paper. An outline is helpful in giving you a sense of the overall structure of your paper and how best to organize your ideas. You need to decide how to arrange your argument in a way that will make the most sense to your reader. Perhaps you decide that your argument is most clear when presented chronologically, or perhaps you find that it works best with a thematic approach.

There is no one right way to organize a history paper; it depends entirely on the prompt, on your sources, and on what you think would be most clear to someone reading it. An effective pg college essay workshop includes the following components: the research question from the prompt that you wrote down in Step 1your working thesis, the main idea of each body paragraph, and the evidence from both primary and secondary sources you will use to support each body paragraph.

Be as detailed as you can when putting together your outline. Write your first draft. This step can feel overwhelming, but remember that you have already done a lot of work and--armed with your working thesis, source annotations, and outline--have all the tools needed.

Do not feel that you have to work through your history from beginning to end. The writer should demonstrate originality and critical thinking by showing what the question is asking, and why it is important rather than merely repeating it. Your own informed perspective is what matters. Many first-year students ask whether the personal development plan essay sample is not just their "opinion" of a historical question.

A thesis is indeed a "point of view," or "perspective," but of a particular sort: it is based not only on belief, but on a logical and systematic argument supported by evidence. The truism that we each have "our own" opinions misses the point. A good critical essay acknowledges that many perspectives are possible on any question, yet demonstrates the validity or correctness of the writer's own view.

Thesis and Evidence To make a good argument you must have both a strong central thesis and plausible evidence; the two are interdependent and support each other.

Some historians have compared the historian's craft to assembling and presenting a case before a jury. A strong statement of thesis needs evidence or it will convince no one. Equally, quotes, dates, and lists of details mean nothing by themselves. Your task is both to select the important "facts" and to present them in a reasonable, persuasive, and systematic manner which defends your position.

To support your argument, you should also be competent in using footnotes and creating bibliographies for your work; neither is difficult, and both are requirements for truly professional scholarship. The footnote is a way of demonstrating the author's thesis against the evidence. In effect, it is a way of saying: "If you don't accept my thesis, you can check the evidence yourself.

Notice that the library website has different databases you can search depending on what type of material you need such as scholarly articles, newspapers, books and what subject and time period you are researching such as eighteenth-century England or ancient Rome. Searching the database most relevant to your topic will yield the best results. Visit the library's History Research Guide for tips on the research process and on using library resources. You can also schedule an appointment with a librarian to talk specifically about your research project. Or, make an appointment with staff at the History Writing Center for research help. Visit our section about using electronic resources as well. Take stock and draft a thesis statement. By this point, you know what the prompt is asking, you have brainstormed possible responses, and you have done some research. Now you need to step back, look at the material you have, and develop your argument. Based on the reading and research you have done, how might you answer the question s in the prompt? What arguments do your sources allow you to make? Draft a thesis statement in which you clearly and succinctly make an argument that addresses the prompt. If you find writing a thesis daunting, remember that whatever you draft now is not set in stone. Your thesis will change. As you do more research, reread your sources, and write your paper, you will learn more about the topic and your argument. For now, produce a "working thesis," meaning, a thesis that represents your thinking up to this point. Remember it will almost certainly change as you move through the writing process. For more information, visit our section about thesis statements. Once you have a thesis, you may find that you need to do more research targeted to your specific argument. Revisit some of the tips from Step 3. Identify your key sources both primary and secondary and annotate them. Now that you have a working thesis, look back over your sources and identify which ones are most critical to you--the ones you will be grappling with most directly in order to make your argument. Then, annotate them. Annotating sources means writing a paragraph that summarizes the main idea of the source as well as shows how you will use the source in your paper. Think about what the source does for you. Does it provide evidence in support of your argument? Does it offer a counterpoint that you can then refute, based on your research? Does it provide critical historical background that you need in order to make a point? For more information about annotating sources, visit our section on annotated bibliographies. While it might seem like this step creates more work for you by having to do more writing, it in fact serves two critical purposes: it helps you refine your working thesis by distilling exactly what your sources are saying, and it helps smooth your writing process. Having dissected your sources and articulated your ideas about them, you can more easily draw upon them when constructing your paper. Even if you do not have to do outside research and are limited to working with the readings you have done in class, annotating sources is still very useful. Write down exactly how a particular section in the textbook or in a primary source reader will contribute to your paper. Draft an outline of your paper. An outline is helpful in giving you a sense of the overall structure of your paper and how best to organize your ideas. You need to decide how to arrange your argument in a way that will make the most sense to your reader. Perhaps you decide that your argument is most clear when presented chronologically, or perhaps you find that it works best with a thematic approach. There is no one right way to organize a history paper; it depends entirely on the prompt, on your sources, and on what you think would be most clear to someone reading it. An effective outline includes the following components: the research question from the prompt that you wrote down in Step 1 , your working thesis, the main idea of each body paragraph, and the evidence from both primary and secondary sources you will use to support each body paragraph. Be as detailed as you can when putting together your outline. Write your first draft. This step can feel overwhelming, but remember that you have already done a lot of work and--armed with your working thesis, source annotations, and outline--have all the tools needed. Do not feel that you have to work through your outline from beginning to end. Some writers find it helpful to begin with the section in which they feel most confident. Look at your outline and see if there is one part that is particularly fleshed out; you may want to begin there. Your goal in the draft is to articulate your argument as clearly as you can, and to marshal your evidence in support of your argument. Do not get too caught up in grammar or stylistic issues at this point, as you are more concerned now with the big-picture task of expressing your ideas in writing. If you have trouble getting started or are feeling overwhelmed, try free writing. Free writing is a low-stakes writing exercise to help you get past the blank page. What are his or her stated and unstated assumptions? What kind of evidence supports the arguments and how is it used? What do particular documents or texts tell you about the time in which they were written? Your questions will be the beginning of your own thesis. First Draft As noted above, all serious writing is done in drafts, and not the night before. Even if you are pressed for time as, of course, you will be give yourself enough time to review and revise your own writing. Students will sometimes turn in papers they have never actually read themselves; this is a mistake which shows. Think of the first or "preliminary" draft as a detailed outline. Establish your thesis and see how it looks in writing. Is it too general or specific? Does it address the questions asked by the instructor? Because the thesis is so critical, small changes in it will have a big impact. Don't be afraid to refine it as often as necessary as you continue reading and writing. As you write, pay attention to the following points: Organize your ideas on paper. Order your arguments and connect them to the relevant supporting evidence. If the evidence contradicts your thesis, you will have to rethink your thesis. Obviously you must not alter the evidence, but always look for some citation or text which makes your point better, clearer, more precise, more persuasive. Avoid needlessly long quotes which only fill up space, and be sure what you select actually makes the point you think it does. All citations must be integrated logically and systematically into your argument. Remember that no quote "speaks for itself. Be attentive to paragraph construction and order. Paragraphs should have strong topic sentences and be several sentences long. Try to show development in your argument. Point one should lead logically to point two in paragraph after paragraph, section after section. Avoid simply listing and detailing your arguments in the order which they occur to you. Though there may be no absolutely correct sequence in presenting an argument, a thoughtful ordering and systematic development of points is more convincing than ideas randomly thrown together. Pay attention to transitions: when you switch to a new argument, let the reader know with a new topic sentence. Resist the temptation of thinking, "they'll know what I mean. Take time with your conclusion, which should close and summarize your arguments. Remember that conclusions can have a big impact on the reader, as closing statements do to a jury. You are of course not being judged, but—as part of the scholarly process—your work is being evaluated, so try to make the best presentation possible. Drafts and Final Draft Now you have completed your draft. Return to your introduction. Is the thesis clearly stated? Have you established the argument and evidence you will present? Rephrase your thesis if necessary. You may not even be clear about the final thesis until you have written much of the paper itself and seen how the argument holds together. Add examples or delete non-relevant materials and make sure paragraphs connect with transitions and topic sentences. Proofread the work: set it aside for some time and come back to it, or try reading it aloud to yourself if your roommates are tolerant. Some classes, such as the History Seminar, have students critique each others' research drafts, often several times. Such exercises are invaluable opportunities to learn how other people read you, and how to be fair, judicious, and helpful in your own critiques. Whenever possible try to have someone else read your work and comment on it. Finally, check for sense, grammar, spelling, and mechanical and typographical errors. Show respect for your reader by not making him or her wade through a sloppy manuscript. This should be distinguished from remembering, daydreaming and idly speculating. Thinking is rarely a pleasant undertaking, and most of us contrive to avoid it most of the time. So think as hard as you can about the meaning of the question, about the issues it raises and the ways you can answer it. You have to think and think hard — and then you should think again, trying to find loopholes in your reasoning. Eventually you will almost certainly become confused. If you get totally confused, take a break. When you return to the question, it may be that the problems have resolved themselves. If not, give yourself more time. You may well find that decent ideas simply pop into your conscious mind at unexpected times. You can of course follow the herd and repeat the interpretation given in your textbook. But there are problems here. First, what is to distinguish your work from that of everybody else? The advice above is relevant to coursework essays. But even here, you should take time out to do some thinking. Examiners look for quality rather than quantity, and brevity makes relevance doubly important. The Vital First Paragraph Every part of an essay is important, but the first paragraph is vital. This is the first chance you have to impress — or depress — an examiner, and first impressions are often decisive. You might therefore try to write an eye-catching first sentence. De Mille. More important is that you demonstrate your understanding of the question set. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues — in other words, the parameters of the question. Also, you divide the overall question into more manageable sub-divisions, or smaller questions, on each of which you will subsequently write a paragraph. You formulate an argument, or perhaps voice alternative lines of argument, that you will substantiate later in the essay. Hence the first paragraph — or perhaps you might spread this opening section over two paragraphs — is the key to a good essay. On reading a good first paragraph, examiners will be profoundly reassured that its author is on the right lines, being relevant, analytical and rigorous. They will probably breathe a sign of relief that here is one student at least who is avoiding the two common pitfalls. The first is to ignore the question altogether.

By keeping your notes accurate your argument will always be rooted in concrete evidence of the past which the reader can verify. See below for standard footnote forms. Historical Writing Be aware also that "historical" writing is not exactly the history as college in other social sciences, in literature, or in the essay sciences.

  • Historical analysis essay intro
  • Mongols historical investigation sample essay
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.

Though all follow the general thesis and evidence model, historical writing also depends a great deal on situating evidence and arguments correctly in time and space in narratives about the past.

Historians are particularly sensitive to errors of anachronism—that is, putting events in an "incorrect" order, or having historical characters speak, think, and act in ways inappropriate for the time in which they were living. Reading the past principally in terms of your own present experience can also create problems in your arguments. Avoid grand statements about humanity in general, and be careful of theories which fit all cases.

Make a point of using evidence with attention to specificity of time and place, i. Understand the question being asked. Pay attention to the way it is worded and presented. Can you properly define them? What sort of evidence is required to respond effectively?

If you are developing your own topic, what are the important issues and what questions can you pose yourself? Prepare the material. Begin reading or re-reading your essays or documents. Students often ask: "How can I give you a thesis or write an introduction before I have done all the reading? Remember however that merely "reading everything" doesn't guarantee you'll do college writing.

Some students rush through assignments, others highlight every line, both thinking that by counting pages or words they are doing well. As you read the important point is to identify critical arguments in the texts. Don't just read for "information. What is the author saying? What are his or her stated and unstated assumptions? College essay act of kindness kind of evidence supports the arguments and how is it used?

What do particular documents or texts tell you about the time in which they were written? Your questions will be the beginning of your own thesis. First Draft As noted above, all serious writing is done in drafts, and not the night before. Even if you are pressed for time as, of course, you will be give yourself enough time to review and revise your own writing. Students will sometimes turn in papers they have never actually read themselves; this is a mistake which shows.

Think of the first or "preliminary" draft as a detailed outline. Establish your thesis and see how it looks in writing. But even here, you should take time out to do some thinking.

Examiners look for quality rather than quantity, and brevity makes relevance doubly important. The Vital First Paragraph Every part of an essay is important, but the history paragraph is vital.

This is the first chance you have to impress — or depress — an examiner, and first impressions are often decisive. You might therefore try to write an eye-catching first sentence.

De Mille. More important is that you demonstrate your understanding of the question set. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues — in other words, the parameters of the question. Also, you divide the overall question into more manageable sub-divisions, or smaller questions, on each of which you will subsequently write a paragraph.

You formulate an argument, or perhaps voice alternative lines of argument, that you will substantiate later in the essay.

A college history essay

Hence the history paragraph — or perhaps you college spread this opening section over two paragraphs — is the key to a good essay. On reading a good first paragraph, examiners will be profoundly reassured that its essay is on the right lines, being relevant, analytical and rigorous.

Department of History | School of Arts and Sciences - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

They will probably breathe a history of essay that here is one student at least who is avoiding the two common pitfalls. The first is to ignore the question altogether. The second is to write a narrative of events — often beginning with the birth of an individual — with a half-hearted attempt at answering the question in the final paragraph.

Middle Paragraphs Philip Larkin college said that the modern novel consists of a beginning, a muddle and an end. The same is, alas, all too true of many history essays.

A college history essay

It should be obvious, from your college paragraphs, what question you are answering. So consider starting each middle paragraph will a generalisation relevant to the question. Then you can develop this essay and substantiate it history evidence.

You must give a judicious selection of evidence i. You only have a limited amount of space or time, so think about how much detail to give.

How To Write a Good History Essay | History Today

Relatively unimportant background issues can be summarised with a broad brush; your most important areas need greater embellishment. The regulations often specify that, in the A2 year, students should be familiar with the main interpretations of histories. Do not ignore this essay. On the other hand, do not college historiography to extremes, so that the past itself is virtually ignored.

Point one should lead logically to point two in paragraph after paragraph, section after section. Establish your thesis and see how it looks in writing. This grappling with the problem of definition will help you compile an annotated list of successes, and you can then proceed to explain them, tracing their origins and pinpointing how and why they occurred.

Quite often in essays students give a generalisation and back it up with the opinion of an historian — and since they have formulated the generalisation from the opinion, the history is entirely essay, and therefore meaningless and unconvincing.