Heather Cox Richardson concludes her Tips for Writing Research Papers for a College History Course. Earlier, Richardson discussed how to develop a topic, organize the paper, and craft a strong argument. Here she describes the finishing touches to put on a paper and what might be done after completion.
Tips for Writing Research Papers for a College History Course
Heather Cox Richardson
Finishing your research paper:
Standard font for a research paper is Times New Roman, size 12, double space. It should have page numbers at the bottom of each page (except the first, but if one shows up there, don’t worry too much about it).
Your essay must have notes—either endnotes or footnotes (endnotes print more easily, by the way)—and unless you are specifically told otherwise, you need to prepare a bibliography, too. This should be easy if you wrote down the full citation information of each source as you used it. The citation format for bibliographies is different than that of notes, though, so check to make sure you’ve got it right.
Your essay needs a title. The title page should include your name, the names of your professor and your TA (if there is one), and the date.
Getting the essay back:
If you’ve invested this much in an essay, you should get enough feedback on it to understand where you were successful and where you were not. Many graders don’t write many comments because so few students ever bother to pick up their essays, although they’re quite willing to elaborate if they know someone’s interested. If there are not enough comments on your essay to enable you to understand how to write a better one next time, go ask. (For how to do this, see the section on proper behavior in a classroom).
If you enjoyed writing the essay and the professor agrees that it’s an excellent piece of work, consider submitting it for a university prize, for a national prize, or, perhaps, cutting it down for a local newspaper. UMass history prizes are listed on our website; national prizes are on the internet, and your local newspaper editor is listed in the paper itself.