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Guidelines for Writing Art History Research Papers

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❶Has the author done archival work? Rephrase your thesis if necessary.

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Note also that the title of a work of art is always italicized. Within the text, the reference to the illustration is enclosed in parentheses and placed at the end of the sentence. A period for the sentence comes after the parenthetical reference to the illustration. For UALR art history papers, illustrations are placed at the end of the paper, not within the text. Illustration are not supplied as a Powerpoint presentation or as separate. Edvard Munch, The Scream, Plagiarism is a form of thievery and is illegal.

Another useful website regarding plagiarism is provided by Cornell University, http: Plagiarism is a serious offense, and students should understand that checking papers for plagiarized content is easy to do with Internet resources. Plagiarism will be reported as academic dishonesty to the Dean of Students; see Section VI of the Student Handbook which cites plagiarism as a specific violation.

Take care that you fully and accurately acknowledge the source of another author, whether you are quoting the material verbatim or paraphrasing. You must credit both direct quotes and your paraphrases. Each semester the Department of Art provides students opportunities to work in the department facilities. Learn more and apply…. Take care of it here…. News and Events News University Events. University of Arkansas at Little Rock Apply. Department of Art and Design.

Paper Format Research papers should be in a point font, double-spaced. New York University Press. Visual Documentation Illustrations Art history papers require visual documentation such as photographs, photocopies, or scanned images of the art works you discuss. The caption that accompanies the illustration at the end of the paper would read: Plagiarism Plagiarism is a form of thievery and is illegal.

Contact Department of Art and Design. Assistantship application Each semester the Department of Art provides students opportunities to work in the department facilities. Learn more and apply… Locker Rentals Lockers can be selected and paid for online. It says "Get Seats", but you know what we mean. Take care of it here… Connect With Us. You are sloppy with the chronology.

You quote excessively or improperly. You are vague or have empty, unsupported generalizations. You write too much in the passive voice. You use inappropriate sources. You use evidence uncritically. You have no clear thesis and little analysis. Avoid pretentious, vapid beginnings. If you are writing a paper on, say, British responses to the rebellion in India in , don't open with a statement like this: Get to the point. For example, you might go on to argue that greater British sensitivity to Indian customs was hypocritical.

Whether you are writing an exam essay or a senior thesis, you need to have a thesis. A good thesis answers an important research question about how or why something happened. Develop your thesis logically from paragraph to paragraph. Your reader should always know where your argument has come from, where it is now, and where it is going. Students are often puzzled when their professors mark them down for summarizing or merely narrating rather than analyzing.

What does it mean to analyze? In the narrow sense, to analyze means to break down into parts and to study the interrelationships of those parts.

If you analyze water, you break it down into hydrogen and oxygen. In a broader sense, historical analysis explains the origins and significance of events. Historical analysis digs beneath the surface to see relationships or distinctions that are not immediately obvious. Historical analysis is critical; it evaluates sources, assigns significance to causes, and weighs competing explanations.

Who, what, when, and where are the stuff of summary; how, why, and to what effect are the stuff of analysis. Many students think that they have to give a long summary to show the professor that they know the facts before they get to their analysis.

Try instead to begin your analysis as soon as possible, sometimes without any summary at all. You can't do an analysis unless you know the facts, but you can summarize the facts without being able to do an analysis.

Like good detectives, historians are critical of their sources and cross-check them for reliability. Likewise, you wouldn't think much of a historian who relied solely on the French to explain the origins of World War I.

Consider the following two statements on the origin of World War I: Only a professional liar would deny this Neither the people, the government, nor the Kaiser wanted war As always, the best approach is to ask: Who wrote the source? The first statement comes from a book by the French politician Georges Clemenceau, which he wrote in at the very end of his life.

He was obviously not a disinterested observer. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of They were defending Germany against charges of aggression and brutality. They too were obviously not disinterested observers. Now, rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement, but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always applies. In general, the more sources you can use, and the more varied they are, the more likely you are to make a sound historical judgment, especially when passions and self-interests are engaged.

Competent historians may offer different interpretations of the same evidence or choose to stress different evidence. You can, however, learn to discriminate among conflicting interpretations, not all of which are created equal. Analyzing a Historical Document.

Vague statements and empty generalizations suggest that you haven't put in the time to learn the material. Consider these two sentences: The Revolution is important because it shows that people need freedom. Who exactly needed freedom, and what did they mean by freedom?

Here is a more precise statement about the French Revolution: Be careful when you use grand abstractions like people, society, freedom, and government, especially when you further distance yourself from the concrete by using these words as the apparent antecedents for the pronouns they and it.

Always pay attention to cause and effect. Abstractions do not cause or need anything; particular people or particular groups of people cause or need things.

Anchor your thesis in a clear chronological framework and don't jump around confusingly. Take care to avoid both anachronisms and vagueness about dates. The scandal did not become public until after the election. When in the twentieth century? Remember that chronology is the backbone of history. What would you think of a biographer who wrote that you graduated from Hamilton in the s? Your professor may allow parenthetical citations in a short paper with one or two sources, but you should use footnotes for any research paper in history.

Parenthetical citations are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading. Worse still, they are simply inadequate to capture the richness of historical sources. Historians take justifiable pride in the immense variety of their sources.

Parenthetical citations such as Jones may be fine for most of the social sciences and humanities, where the source base is usually limited to recent books and articles in English. Historians, however, need the flexibility of the full footnote. Try to imagine this typical footnote pulled at random from a classic work of German history squeezed into parentheses in the body of the text: The abbreviations are already in this footnote; its information cannot be further reduced.

For footnotes and bibliography, historians usually use Chicago style. The Chicago Manual of Style. University of Chicago Press, Use as many primary sources as possible in your paper. A primary source is one produced by a participant in or witness of the events you are writing about. A primary source allows the historian to see the past through the eyes of direct participants. Some common primary sources are letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, church records, newspaper articles, and government documents of all kinds.

Not all primary sources are written. Buildings, monuments, clothes, home furnishings, photographs, religious relics, musical recordings, or oral reminiscences can all be primary sources if you use them as historical clues. The interests of historians are so broad that virtually anything can be a primary source. A secondary source is one written by a later historian who had no part in what he or she is writing about.

In the rare cases when the historian was a participant in the events, then the work—or at least part of it—is a primary source. Historians read secondary sources to learn about how scholars have interpreted the past.

Just as you must be critical of primary sources, so too you must be critical of secondary sources. You must be especially careful to distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly secondary sources. Unlike, say, nuclear physics, history attracts many amateurs. Books and articles about war, great individuals, and everyday material life dominate popular history. Some professional historians disparage popular history and may even discourage their colleagues from trying their hand at it.

You need not share their snobbishness; some popular history is excellent. But—and this is a big but—as a rule, you should avoid popular works in your research, because they are usually not scholarly.

Popular history seeks to inform and entertain a large general audience. In popular history, dramatic storytelling often prevails over analysis, style over substance, simplicity over complexity, and grand generalization over careful qualification. Popular history is usually based largely or exclusively on secondary sources. Strictly speaking, most popular histories might better be called tertiary, not secondary, sources.

Scholarly history, in contrast, seeks to discover new knowledge or to reinterpret existing knowledge. Good scholars wish to write clearly and simply, and they may spin a compelling yarn, but they do not shun depth, analysis, complexity, or qualification. Scholarly history draws on as many primary sources as practical.

Now, your goal as a student is to come as close as possible to the scholarly ideal, so you need to develop a nose for distinguishing the scholarly from the non-scholarly.

Who is the author? Most scholarly works are written by professional historians usually professors who have advanced training in the area they are writing about. If the author is a journalist or someone with no special historical training, be careful.

Who publishes the work? Is it in a journal subscribed to by our library, listed on JSTOR , or published by a university press? Is the editorial board staffed by professors? Oddly enough, the word journal in the title is usually a sign that the periodical is scholarly.

What do the notes and bibliography look like? If they are thin or nonexistent, be careful. If they are all secondary sources, be careful. If the work is about a non-English-speaking area, and all the sources are in English, then it's almost by definition not scholarly. Can you find reviews of the book in the data base Academic Search Premier? If you are unsure whether a work qualifies as scholarly, ask your professor. Writing a Book Review. Many potentially valuable sources are easy to abuse.

Be especially alert for these five abuses: The Web is a wonderful and improving resource for indexes and catalogs. But as a source for primary and secondary material for the historian, the Web is of limited value. Anyone with the right software can post something on the Web without having to get past trained editors, peer reviewers, or librarians. As a result, there is a great deal of garbage on the Web.

If you use a primary source from the Web, make sure that a respected intellectual institution stands behind the site. Be especially wary of secondary articles on the Web, unless they appear in electronic versions of established print journals e. Many articles on the Web are little more than third-rate encyclopedia entries. When in doubt, check with your professor.

With a few rare exceptions, you will not find scholarly monographs in history even recent ones on the Web. Your days at Hamilton will be long over by the time the project is finished. Besides, your training as a historian should give you a healthy skepticism of the giddy claims of technophiles.

Most of the time and effort of doing history goes into reading, note-taking, pondering, and writing. Moreover, there is a subtle, but serious, drawback with digitized old books: And of course, virtually none of the literally trillions of pages of archival material is available on the Web. For the foreseeable future, the library and the archive will remain the natural habitats of the historian.

Consider this example admittedly, a bit heavy-handed, but it drives the point home: Impure seems too simple and boring a word, so you bring up your thesaurus, which offers you everything from incontinent to meretricious.

Use only those words that come to you naturally. This is similar to thesaurus abuse. How about a quotation on money? Your professor is not fooled. You sound like an insecure after-dinner speaker. But if you are footnoting encyclopedias in your papers, you are not doing college-level research. The dictionary is your friend.

Keep it by your side as you write, but do not abuse it by starting papers with a definition. You may be most tempted to start this way when you are writing on a complex, controversial, or elusive subject. Actually, the dictionary does you little good in such cases and makes you sound like a conscientious but dull high-school student.

Save in the rare case that competing dictionary definitions are the subject at hand, keep dictionary quotations out of your paper. Avoid quoting a secondary source and then simply rewording or summarizing the quotation, either above or below the quotation. Writing a Book Review Your professor wants to see your ability to analyze and to understand the secondary sources. Do not quote unless the quotation clarifies or enriches your analysis. If you use a lot of quotations from secondary sources, you are probably writing a poor paper.

An analysis of a primary source, such as a political tract or philosophical essay, might require lengthy quotations, often in block format. Using primary sources and Use scholarly secondary sources.

Unless instructed otherwise, you should assume that your audience consists of educated, intelligent, nonspecialists. Explaining your ideas to someone who doesn't know what you mean forces you to be clear and complete. When in doubt, err on the side of putting in extra details. Resist the temptation to condemn or to get self-righteous.

Obviously, you should not just stop abruptly as though you have run out of time or ideas. Your conclusion should conclude something. If you merely restate briefly what you have said in your paper, you give the impression that you are unsure of the significance of what you have written.

A weak conclusion leaves the reader unsatisfied and bewildered, wondering why your paper was worth reading. A strong conclusion adds something to what you said in your introduction. A strong conclusion explains the importance and significance of what you have written. A strong conclusion leaves your reader caring about what you have said and pondering the larger implications of your thesis. Leave plenty of time for revising and proofreading. Show your draft to a writing tutor or other good writer.

Reading the draft aloud may also help. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, and a few may slip through no matter how meticulous you are. But beware of lots of mistakes. The failure to proofread carefully suggests that you devoted little time and effort to the assignment. Proofread your text both on the screen and on a printed copy. Your eyes see the two differently. If ewe ken reed this ewe kin sea that a computer wood nut all ways help ewe spill or rite reel good.

The Writing Center suggests standard abbreviations for noting some of these problems. You should familiarize yourself with those abbreviations, but your professor may not use them. Try your hand at fixing this sentence: You may not match Shakespeare, but you can learn to cut the fat out of your prose. Write in the active voice.

The passive voice encourages vagueness and dullness; it enfeebles verbs; and it conceals agency, which is the very stuff of history. You know all of this almost instinctively. At its worst, the passive voice—like its kin, bureaucratic language and jargon—is a medium for the dishonesty and evasion of responsibility that pervade contemporary American culture. Your professor will assume that you don't know. Italy was an aggressive actor, and your passive construction conceals that salient fact by putting the actor in the syntactically weakest position—at the end of the sentence as the object of a preposition.

Notice how you add vigor and clarity to the sentence when you recast it in the active voice: Note that in all three of these sample sentences the passive voice focuses the reader on the receiver of the action rather than on the doer on Kennedy, not on American voters; on McKinley, not on his assassin; on King Harold, not on the unknown Norman archer. Historians usually wish to focus on the doer, so you should stay with the active voice—unless you can make a compelling case for an exception.

The verb to be is the most common and most important verb in English, but too many verbs to be suck the life out of your prose and lead to wordiness. Enliven your prose with as many action verbs as possible. You may have introduced a non sequitur ; gotten off the subject; drifted into abstraction; assumed something that you have not told the reader; failed to explain how the material relates to your argument; garbled your syntax; or simply failed to proofread carefully.

If possible, have a good writer read your paper and point out the muddled parts. Reading your paper aloud may help too. Paragraphs are the building blocks of your paper. If your paragraphs are weak, your paper cannot be strong.

Try underlining the topic sentence of every paragraph. If your topic sentences are vague, strength and precision—the hallmarks of good writing—are unlikely to follow. Consider this topic sentence from a paper on Ivan the Terrible: Perhaps the writer means the following: Once you have a good topic sentence, make sure that everything in the paragraph supports that sentence, and that cumulatively the support is persuasive.

Make sure that each sentence follows logically from the previous one, adding detail in a coherent order.

Move, delete, or add material as appropriate. To avoid confusing the reader, limit each paragraph to one central idea. If you have a series of supporting points starting with first, you must follow with a second, third , etc. A paragraph that runs more than a printed page is probably too long. Err on the side of shorter paragraphs. Most historians write in the third person, which focuses the reader on the subject. If you write in the first person singular, you shift the focus to yourself.

It suggests committees, editorial boards, or royalty. None of those should have had a hand in writing your paper. Stay consistently in the past tense when you are writing about what took place in the past. Most historians shift into the present tense when describing or commenting on a book, document, or evidence that still exists and is in front of them or in their mind as they write. In the book she contends [present tense] that woman History is about the past, so historians write in the past tense, unless they are discussing effects of the past that still exist and thus are in the present.

When in doubt, use the past tense and stay consistent. This is a common problem, though not noted in stylebooks. When you quote someone, make sure that the quotation fits grammatically into your sentence. Note carefully the mismatch between the start of the following sentence and the quotation that follows: The infinitive to conceive fits.

Remember that good writers quote infrequently, but when they do need to quote, they use carefully phrased lead-ins that fit the grammatical construction of the quotation.

Do not suddenly drop quotations into your prose. Fine, but first you inconvenience the reader, who must go to the footnote to learn that the quotation comes from The Age of Reform by historian Richard Hofstadter. And then you puzzle the reader. Did Hofstadter write the line about perfection and progress, or is he quoting someone from the Progressive era? You may know, but your reader is not a mind reader.

When in doubt, err on the side of being overly clear. Historians value plain English. Academic jargon and pretentious theory will make your prose turgid, ridiculous, and downright irritating. Your professor will suspect that you are trying to conceal that you have little to say. And sometimes you need a technical term, be it ontological argument or ecological fallacy. When you use theory or technical terms, make sure that they are intelligible and do real intellectual lifting.

Please, no sentences like this: Try to keep your prose fresh. When you proofread, watch out for sentences like these: His bottom line was that as people went forward into the future, they would, at the end of the day, step up to the plate and realize that the Jesuits were conniving perverts. Avoid inflating your prose with unsustainable claims of size, importance, uniqueness, certainty, or intensity.

Such claims mark you as an inexperienced writer trying to impress the reader. Your statement is probably not certain ; your subject probably not unique , the biggest, the best, or the most important. Also, the adverb very will rarely strengthen your sentence. Once you have chosen an image, you must stay with language compatible with that image.

In the following example, note that the chain, the boiling, and the igniting are all incompatible with the image of the cold, rolling, enlarging snowball: If your reader feels a jolt or gets disoriented at the beginning of a new paragraph, your paper probably lacks unity.

In a good paper, each paragraph is woven seamlessly into the next. Many readers find this practice arrogant, obnoxious, and precious, and they may dismiss your arguments out of hand.

If you believe that the communist threat was bogus or exaggerated, or that the free world was not really free, then simply explain what you mean.

This all-purpose negative comment usually suggests that the sentence is clumsy because you have misused words or compounded several errors. Consider this sentence from a book review:.

What is your long-suffering professor to do with this sentence? The however contributes nothing; the phrase falsehoods lie is an unintended pun that distracts the reader; the comma is missing between the independent clauses; the these has no clear antecedent falsehoods? In weary frustration, your professor scrawls awk in the margin and moves on. Buried under the twelve-word sentence lies a three-word idea: All pronouns must refer clearly to antecedents and must agree with them in number.

The reader usually assumes that the antecedent is the immediately preceding noun. Do not confuse the reader by having several possible antecedents.

Consider these two sentences:. To what does the it refer? Forcing the Emperor to wait? The granting of the audience? The whole previous sentence? You are most likely to get into antecedent trouble when you begin a paragraph with this or it , referring vaguely back to the general import of the previous paragraph.

When in doubt, take this test: Circle the pronoun and the antecedent and connect the two with a line. Then ask yourself if your reader could instantly make the same diagram without your help. If the line is long, or if the circle around the antecedent is large, encompassing huge gobs of text, then your reader probably will be confused. Repetition is better than ambiguity and confusion. You confuse your reader if you change the grammatical construction from one element to the next in a series.

The reader expects another infinitive, but instead trips over the that. Note the two parts of this sentence:. The sentence jars because the neither is followed by a noun, the nor by a verb. Keep the parts parallel. Make the parts parallel by putting the verb attacked after the not only. Do not confuse the reader with a phrase or clause that refers illogically or absurdly to other words in the sentence.

Avoid following an introductory participial clause with the expletives it or there. Run-on sentences string together improperly joined independent clauses. Consider these three sentences:. The first fuses two independent clauses with neither a comma nor a coordinating conjunction; the second uses a comma but omits the coordinating conjunction; and the third also omits the coordinating conjunction however is not a coordinating conjunction. To solve the problem, separate the two clauses with a comma and the coordinating conjunction but.

You could also divide the clauses with a semicolon or make separate sentences. Remember that there are only seven coordinating conjunctions and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

A sentence has to have a subject and a predicate. If you string together a lot of words, you may lose control of the syntax and end up with a sentence fragment. Note that the following is not a sentence:. Here you have a long compound introductory clause followed by no subject and no verb, and thus you have a fragment. You may have noticed exceptions to the no-fragments rule.

Skilful writers do sometimes intentionally use a fragment to achieve a certain effect. Leave the rule-breaking to the experts. The first sentence has a nonrestrictive relative clause; the dates are included almost as parenthetical information. But something seems amiss with the second sentence. It has a restrictive relative clause that limits the subject World War I to the World War I fought between and , thus implying that there were other wars called World War I, and that we need to distinguish among them.

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Making Sure your History Paper has Substance Get off to a good start. Avoid pretentious, vapid beginnings. If you are writing a paper on, say, British responses to the rebellion in India.

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A Brief Guide to Writing the History Paper The Challenges of Writing About (a.k.a., Making) History At first glance, writing about history can seem like an overwhelming task. History’s subject matter is immense, encompassing all of human affairs in the recorded past —.

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Welcome to the History Department Studying history is important in order to fully understand the complexities of this modern globalized world. Students develop critical thinking skills, learn to write persuasively, and increase their cultural awareness. Writing a history paper is a process. Successful papers are not completed in a single moment of genius or inspiration, but are developed over a series of steps. When you first read a paper prompt, you might feel overwhelmed or intimidated.

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some tips for writing history papers Thesis: A good historian does not adopt a thesis until quite late on in the process of preparing a paper. First, find good questions to ask yourself, questions that deserve and actually call for an answer, real world questions even if the paper is about a remote period of the past. Get Professional Writing Assistance with any type of History Research Papers and Dissertations. Native English-speaking writers only. Money-back guarantee.