For how to write a research paper for history you need to find the appropriate material to write your paper. Here are some guidelines about locating sources, types of sources because as knowledge creating disciplines, history is basically derived from sources.
Sources are a term for any information used by the historian to discover what happened in the past and during the period that the historian is writing about. Sources are to the historian what measurement is to the scientist. The availability of sources usually dictates the answers to many historical questions, explaining many aspects of the past.
Sources are either primary or secondary. A primary source is that which is identified as a “document of its time” which is read and analyzed as information. A secondary source is material derived from the primary source. However, sometimes secondary sources are considered primary sources depending upon what a historian is writing. As an example a paper about historical education in America would use many textbooks, usually considered secondary sources as primary sources.
Next for how to write a research paper for history is the fact that although primary sources are considered the mainstay of historical research, they can be deemed only as reliable as the person who created them. Their authencity must be compared against all other information about that subject during that specific period. Primary sources sometimes cannot be just accepted at face value, and must be authenticated with other sources of that period. To assess what type of primary sources can be available is easily done by reading through secondary source literature.
Sources can only give so much information about the past. A newspaper about a historical event usually always lacks historical consciousness as the main goal of a newspaper is selling newspapers. This places limitations on what you can use it for because a newspaper is always subject to editing and the policies of the paper.
Other sources for how to write a research paper for history such as photographs, diaries, letters, and official histories have their own set of limitations which should be considered before a final conclusion is made. The historical attitudes in regards to sources need caution. Most of these sorts of primary sources will be found in research library and archives, though their exact locations may be difficult to ascertain. Locating worthwhile and reliable secondary sources will allow you to have a better understanding of your primary source.
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