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Building a Strong Historical Argument Step-by-Step

  1. Conduct preliminary research to identify an area of interest and make sure that the topic is research-worthy.
  2. Develop an open-ended, specific, historical question that gives direction and purpose to your research.
  3. Frame a research proposal based:  What is/are your historical question(s)?  What do you think you will find in the course of your research that will answer that question?  Defend your topic choice: Why should others think it is important? What kind of sources will you use?  The research proposal process is a good moment to share your ideas with others (teachers, other students) to get feedback on the direction of the project before too much time is invested.
  4. Research, research, research! As you research, your historical question should evolve and become more specific.  Answers to your historical questions will develop into your thesis.
  5. Once you have conducted a significant amount of research and thoroughly understand your topic, craft a draft thesis and introduction to your project that establishes the historical problem, the context, and the larger significance (or “so what?”).
  6. Share your draft thesis with others in peer-editing or teacher consultation, revise.  Does it meet the standards of a good thesis for the History Fair?
  7. Construct three to five key claims, identify supporting evidence.  Do the claims and evidence fit the thesis?  Do you need to revise?  Do you need to do more research to find other evidence to support your points?  Creating a detailed outline or storyboard listing the thesis, the claims, and the evidence will help you see how well they connect to tell a persuasive story.
  8. Draft a conclusion.  What is the larger significance or meaning that can be drawn from your project – so what?  Your conclusion will revisit the thesis, claims, and evidence you have developed in the project and present the ideas your audience should “take away” from your project.
 

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