Good historical writing starts with a good historical argument, but this looks a little different for historiographical essays and history research papers. So, it's important to know how to write like a historian. Isn't historical writing just a recitation of things that happened in the past? Historical writing can be very scientific, in that the goal is to use hard evidence, not just to lecture, but to present an argument. We understand today that history is constructed, it's a narrative built by historians, so creating an argument based on reliable evidence is one way to ensure more objective understandings of the past.In this lesson, we'll compare these forms of writing and see how to argue each. In that sense, historians write very much like scientists.If your assignment calls for you to read a number of works dealing with the same topic, you may see that over time one authors work tends to be basic and others merely use it, without adding anything to our understanding.
Bias might be thought of in two different forms: bias by omission (in which the historian through poor research fails to examine all the evidence relevant to the issue) and bias by commission (in which the historian attempts to sway the reader by presenting evidence which only supports his/her position,or by presenting evidence from various points of view but in a way which favors his/her position, or, again, by reaching conclusions based on his/her position without regard to evidence to the contrary).
Many historians believe that a historian who makes his/her personal position obvious but nonetheless clearly tries to present the evidence in a balanced fashion cannot be said to have failed; others continue to maintain that the tone and presentation of the historian should suggest a dispassionate, non-partisan approach.
For example, if a historian of a war writes his/her account from the point of view of only one of the participants, using archives from only that country, you might note the problem and suggest archival research in the other country.
Another historian might write up an analysis of an urban revolt on the part of the poor, using police and newspaper records, but neglect to analyze the policies which provoked the revolt in terms of what the policymakers hoped to accomplish and how they perceived the poor before and after the violence.
Let's start with the most common form: the history research paper. We research the past and present our findings in research papers.
The key to a research paper is to have a solid historical argument, in which you provide an explanation for how and why an event unfolded.Generally, a secondary source is an analysis and/or narrative based on primary sources, such as a study written after the events took place by a non-participant, such as a scholarly monograph or article.However, most practicing historians believe it is important to approximate objectivity through a dispassionate, reasoned argument and analysis based on primary-source evidence and a careful sifting of secondary sources.Your introduction should include the historical topic you are exploring.The rest of the paper will evaluate the body of work you have read in order to present a cohesive picture of opinions and debate.So, how do you actually write a historical argument?It depends on what kind of historical writing you're doing.Thus, if you are reading a number of works on the same subject, your task is to compare the works you have been reading in terms of when they were published to establish who is bringing something new to us and who is simply repeating established material.The authors failings and the direction for future research: What might be done by the author or another historian to fill the obvious gaps, take the next logical step in the argument, or rectify failings in the work?Throughout the course of your studies, you may be asked to write a historiographical essay.Concerning itself mainly with secondary sources, a historiographical essay discusses the body of research, debate and discussion on a particular historical topic.