Points to consider in developing a good historical question for your proposals.

  1. Your question should be interpretive, not “what?” but “why?”
  2. It should be narrow, not “what caused World War I” or “what were the effects of this on that?” “What happened over there during this big event?” Be VERY specific.
  3. It should be research-able; are there sources available? Can I research and read all the sources on the question in one semester?
  4. It should not be about the present, should come from historical context, so write in past tense.
  5. Research and read to find a good question.
  6. Be flexible and realize you will very likely have to revise your question as you do more research and reading.
  7. The idea is to come up with a question that can be researched in full, comprehensively, in one semester.

Click here to view an example of a well-done research proposal.

Back to course syllabus