Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, Patrick Rael

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, Patrick Rael

Rael explains in part in his introduction to the guides (see the menu on the left of his site):

For all who have taken history courses in college, the experience of writing a research paper is etched indelibly in memory: late nights before the paper is due, sitting in pale light in front of a computer monitor or typewriter, a huge stack of books (most of them all-too-recently acquired) propped next to the desk, drinking endless cups of coffee or bottles of Jolt cola. Most of all, we remember the endless, panicked wondering: how on earth was something coherent going to wind up on the page – let alone fill eight, or ten, or twelve of them? After wrestling with material for days, the pressure of the deadline and level of caffeine in the body rise enough, and pen is finally put to paper. Many hours later, a paper is born – all too often something students are not proud to hand in, and something professors dread grading. “Whatever does not kill us makes us stronger.” While Nietzsche may sometimes have been right, he likely did not have writing history papers in mind. On the contrary, I sometimes wonder if students’ bad experiences writing papers does not drive some them away from history. How can we make this process less traumatic, more educational, and ultimately more rewarding for all concerned?…

Please incorporate these guides into your own teaching or writing as you see fit. You may freely reproduce any part of this website for your students – I ask only that you properly cite the source. For those who wish to share parts of this guide with students, I have provided links to .pdf versions of each handout, which may be printed out and xeroxed free of charge. I have also provided a .pdf version of the guides as a whole. (“PDF” stands for “portable document format”; .pdf files can be easily read using Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free by clicking here.) And please let me know how the guides could be more useful. I would be happy to know what works for you.