Arguments and theses: Remember what you have learned from Paideia I and onward. The best senior papers are not surveys of historical events or summaries of the historical literature but arguments. That is, you focus on a problem, determine your thesis, and support it using reasoning and evidence to argue a particular point.
The best way to devise a thesis is to pose questions about subjects which interest you. Start out by examining historical questions which interest you. For example: how and why was non-violence developed as a strategy of the Civil Rights movement? As you learn more, refine your questioning until you develop the problem that will serve as your topic. Ideally, your questions will be interesting enough to enable you to write a sophisticated paper but narrow enough for you to do a thorough job. The more your questions become big, unanswerable, or uninteresting, the more trouble you will have with the paper.
Obviously, it is the sources that provide you with the raw material from which you will seek answers to your questions. Remember that the best questions in the world are relatively useless without data necessary to answer them. The more quickly you determine the major sources for your paper the better off you will be. Don’t make the mistake of spending the majority of your time locating the sources. Sources should be either already available in Preus Library or quickly available through interlibrary loan. Luther has an excellent and dedicated staff of research librarians and Linda Hanson is wonderful about interlibrary loan requests. Go to them for help with your projects.
Working with primary sources sometimes poses difficulties you may not have encountered before this. Listed below are a series of guides which are designed to assist you with style and format and for assistance with writing. These can be used in addition to the Holt Handbook.
Here are a few general hints to provide a quick reference for you. Detailed answers should come from Holt or other guides and from your topic advisor.
Before submitting your paper, complete the following checklist. This probably sounds like mindless drivel in many ways but it will help some of you in the end.