Start early. You will need time to adequately research your paper. Begin by reading some very basic background materials on your topic. This will alert you to potential areas of research. Remember to choose a topic that interests you. The more interesting the topic, the more enjoyable the research process. Be careful to not choose a topic so broad that your paper will lack focus. At the same time be careful not to choose a topic so narrow that you will find it impossible to gather enough information to complete your research.
Once you have narrowed down a research topic, begin by formulating your thesis. Remember to keep an open mind as you do your research and form your hypotheses. Remember you are researching a topic and not simply looking for facts that will support your thesis. When using a source consider it carefully. Who is the author? Does he or she have authority, credentials, a political axe to grind, etc.? Be careful to cite information accurately. Attribute ideas not your own to those of the proper owner.
For additional information on writing research papers in history, consult the following sources:
- Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students (writing guide by a history professor at Bowdoin College)