While this paper is based on a person, it should NOT be solely the story of their life from birth to death, but should make an argument that focuses on the historical events that affected their lives, and the events that they affected.
The purpose of a research paper is to do research on a topic in order to gather evidence which you will use to support the argument that you are making. Think about this like you would a science experiment. Your argument, or thesis, is yours, but you need evidence to convince the reader that your argument is true, and that evidence comes from your sources.
For example, if you chose Nicolo Machiavelli as your topic, you should spend very little time talking about his early life and career, and more discussing his entry into politics, the changes in his political opinions, how and why he wrote his great work The Prince, and how it affected politics both in his native Italy and across Europe, both in his time and to the present. You should choose something about Machiavelli?s career that you feel you can make an argument about, find evidence that supports that argument, then present it in a concise, well-organized essay. In order to do this, finding good sources is very important- ALL of your sources must be PRINT. This means you may use nonfiction books, and articles from newspapers and peer-reviewed journals. You may use articles that come from the internet IF they have a print source. This means that you could go to the library and find them in a book, magazine, journal, or newspaper if you needed to. You may NOT use websites as sources. You may NOT use encyclopedias of any kind-print or digital. You may not use documentaries, television shows, or movies.
Your final paper will be graded on four major criteria:
Thesis: This is the argument of your paper. Does the paper have a strong thesis statement at the beginning? Is the argument addressed throughout the paper? Does the conclusion appropriately address the thesis?
Content: Does the paper contain good information? Does it contain all the major events of its? subject?s life, and does it place these events in the appropriate historical context? Does it demonstrate a clear understanding of the subject?s historical importance? Are the sources used good sources, and are they used well?
Style: Is the paper well written? Is it appropriately cited? Is it well organized?
Mechanics: Does the paper have correct spelling and good grammar?
Citations and Plagiarism
Please remember that this is a research paper, and all assertions, ideas, and facts that are not general knowledge must be supported by your sources. This means at MINIMUM one citation per paragraph since you should be conveying these authors? ideas in your paper, and NOT your own. Please remember that any ideas which are in your paper and are not your own must be cited, or they qualify as plagiarism. This includes ideas from sources in your Works Cited, things your friends told you, or wrote for you, stories that you heard on TV, ideas from Wikipedia, etc, etc.
It should have an introduction that includes your thesis statement, which is the statement of your argument, and then gives an overview of the argument you will make in your paper. The body of your paper should discuss the evidence that you feel proves your argument. The conclusion should then recap your argument. Your paper should have a title that in some way includes the name of your chosen historical figure.