research paper prompts

Good topics to use for writing a history research paper 


If you are tasked with writing a history research paper you will need to find a good topic. But what makes a topic a good one versus a bad one? Well a good topic is one that is not too narrow but not too broad. A topic that is too narrow will not be sufficient when writing your final piece while a topic that is too broad will have too much information to cover. You might consider writing about:

  • French diplomacy with Austria during the rule of Marie Antoinette
  • Napoleon
  • The Constitution
  • The Roman Empire
  • The Council of Nicea

For any of these topics you have the freedom to pick something that is broader or something that is narrowed down further. The actual thesis is where you have this freedom. It is important that you refine the thesis based on the length of your assignment and the number of pages that are required for you particular task.

When you are writing a history research paper it is important that you understand the difference between primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources constitute a source that was present at the time of the event. A secondary source is anything that took place after the event in question. So if you are writing about the rule of Marie Antoinette a primary source might include a newspaper published during that reign or a personal letter sent by her mother. A secondary source would constitute an author who wrote about her life two decades after she was killed or a journal that recounts what life was like during her rule. Of course within these secondary sources you may find a list of primary sources that the authors used such as economic data from the finance minister used by another author to conjecture about the financial downfall of the royal family. An historical author today may reflect on the stories which were spread about Marie based on newspaper clippings related to her friends and possibly being a lesbian. The book by the historical author would be a secondary source while the newspaper clipping referenced in that book would be a primary source.

Since many history research papers have a set number of sources required and a particular distribution of primary and secondary sources it is important to evaluate everything that you decide to use as evidence in your paper.

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