Tips and suggestions for writing and research:
1-Consider and discuss “why” things happened, not so much “what” occurred. Analyze, argue and evaluated as opposed to describe and chronicle. It is best to err on the side of not providing enough background, than consuming your essay with description and narrative.
2. Respond directly to the question, reflecting its key terms. This is especially vital in the introduction and conclusion.
3. Give a clear, explicit statement of your main contention early in the essay, and develop it sequentially and logically.
4. If you are relating and listing facts and events, make sure that you emphasize and explain their significance. Ensure that any narrative detail is subordinated to your argument (that is to say, works for your argument). Do not let narrative detail and descriptive passages drive your essay.
5. Do not quote from secondary sources unless the points they make are truly unique, or the phrasing they utilize is too good to ignore, or the specific wording is something you will be engaging with. Avoid quoting secondary sources for facts and basic observations – paraphrase instead and include the appropriate footnote. Your essay should not read like a series of unrelated and unexplained quotations.
6. Support all of your claims and assertions with some kind of evidence – an event, a quote from a figure involved or contemporary observer, some statistics, or at least a footnote. Avoid statements of your own opinion without adequate supporting material.
7. Engage with your sources critically where possible. This does not mean disagreeing with them for the sake of it, but rather an acknowledgement, where relevant, that there are competing points of view and interpretations. The best essays will then provide footnotes or refer to the other sources which take a contrary view.
8. Show an awareness of contrary arguments, and try to show or argue why your case is superior or more persuasive.
9. Consider locating your arguments in the context of an existing academic or political debate on the topic. Some useful ways of doing this are suggested below:
a. “X has argued that…; Y has argued that…; yet neither have properly accounted for…”
b. “X has argued that… but this oversimplifies the [event, process]; or overstates the
significance of [person ,factors]; which was significantly more complex/important/influential…”
c. “X has argued that…; by contrast, Y has argued that… In my essay, I will argue that while X’s characterization of [event, process, debate] is essentially correct, Y has better grasped [another aspect]” Avoid simply stating that each has good and bad points, and then arbitrarily combining the two, or “averaging” their positions together