Instructions for the Analytical Paper Assignment
The paper must be approximately 2500-3500 words, have a clear thesis, be driven by a structured
argument, and provide sustained analysis of at least 2 but no more than 5 primary source
You are encouraged to use primary sources in languages other than English as well as primary
documents not posted on blackboard, provided that they are within the remit of the course.
Before you begin writing:
1. Select a topic and track down relevant primary sources that are analytically rich (speeches,
interviews, memoirs, reports, personal correspondence, especially when they are lengthy
and rich in personal opinions and judgments) rather than those whose content is more
limited or common knowledge (treaties, brief telegrams, diplomatic reports summarizing
newspaper coverage).
2. Consider the following questions:
• What was the motive for producing the document?
• Who was the document’s intended audience?
• Why is this document historically significant?
• What does it reveal about the time period in which it was written and the people
who wrote it?
• What themes can you link to the document? What is the importance?
• Do you accept the analysis of past, present, and future events contained in the
document? Why or why not?
• How did the document evaluate the recent and long-term past?
• Did the document make any recommendations on how events should unfold in
the future?
• Were there any unusual elements within this document and if so, why were they
3. Read primary sources on the topic until you have identified a promising research question
and a corresponding thesis/argument of sufficient complexity that it can be divided into 3
sub-arguments. A thesis which does not answer a question, or answers a simple or obvious
question, is not a thesis. A thesis is good because the questions it answers are complex.
4. Outline your essay once you have identified the thesis and the sub-arguments.
Thesis Paragraph/First Paragraph
5. State the thesis in either the first or the last sentence of the first paragraph of your essay.
6. Very concisely include all information relevant for understanding the thesis and conveying
its importance. If you cannot explain why the thesis matters it is probably too weak.
Second Paragraph
7. Provide a concise roadmap/summary of the essay, identifying the sub-arguments and
explaining how they fit together.
The introduction is the most important part of your essay. It summarizes and organizes everything
that follows and provides the reader with an important first impression. This should be the first
and last part of the essay that you work on. As with the rest of your paper, everything in the
introduction must be clear, concise, and relevant to the thesis.
Body Paragraphs/Parts
8. Always begin a new section with a clear thesis statement.
9. Edit. Edit. Edit. Not just to proofread your essay, but also to improve the quality of the
writing and argumentation. Considering rereading the primary sources and supplementing
your initial analysis. Consider rearranging and rewriting sections of your paper. You should
devote almost as much time to editing as you do to researching and writing the first draft.
Rules for Writing
I. Avoid fluff, filler, and padding. Always ask whether a particular word, sentence, or
paragraph is necessary. If something is unnecessary, delete it.
II. Be precise and use the clearest and most appropriate words to convey your ideas.
III. Do not use block quotes. Incorporate material from the primary sources directly in the
text of your essay, seamlessly moving between paraphrasing, quoting, and analyzing
the document, always making sure that the reader knows what analysis can be attributed
to you and what is being drawn from the document.
IV. When writing about past events always use the past tense. Always avoid the passive
voice. The classic stylistic guide is Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
V. Use BU’s Writing Center:
Here is a list of research questions from papers that earned a 95% or above:
What were Woodrow Wilson’s motivations in supporting the formation of the League of
What were the main elements of Fukuzawa Yukichi’s political thought?
What was the chief motivation behind British imperialism in Africa, according to Cecil Rhodes
and David Livingstone?
What was Lenin’s position on global socialist revolution before, during, and after the October
What was the main obstacle to Latin American unification during the nineteenth century,
according to Juan Bautista Alberdi, Francisco Bilbao, and José María Torres Caicedo?
How did Kaiser Wilhelm II’s public image in Germany change as a result of the Eulenberg and
Daily Telegraph scandals, especially in the political cartoons of the time?
How did Italian fascism influence the rhetoric and policies of Plaek Phibunsongkhram?
What was the nature of Sumner Welles’ 1933 intervention in Cuba and what does it reveal about
the so-called Good Neighbor Policy?
What does the All-Asian Women’s Conference of 1931 demonstrate about the politics of Asian
feminists of the time?
What was the principal motivation behind Japan’s emigration policy to the US during the early
twentieth century?
What motivated Britain’s policymakers to pursue protectionist policies following World War?
What do the public speeches of Emilio Aguinaldo, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt
reveal about their ideas about the right of Filipino people to self-governance?
How did Latin American diplomats and jurists react to the announcement of the Drago doctrine?
What was the chief motivation behind Canada’s promise of naval aid to Britain during the
Anglo-German Naval Race under Robert Borden?
How central was racism to Andrew Carnegie’s geopolitical ideology?
What do the autobiographical works of Fukuzawa Yukichi and Kido Takayoshi reveal about
Japanese modernization during the late nineteenth century?
What do the Rowlatt Act and the Amritsar Massacre demonstrate about British attitudes toward
India in 1919?
What was the chief motivation behind US intervention in China during the Boxer Rebellion?
Were the aims of the Good Neighbor Policy different from those of the Roosevelt Corollary?
Was the Ottoman Empire genuinely committed to a global holy war, or was the declaration of
jihad during the First World War designed to mask a narrower set of nationalist and geopolitical
What does Secretary of India Leopold S. Amery’s Aug. 9, 1942 speech reveal about Britain’s
imperial policy?
What were Argentina’s aims during the negotiation of the Pan-American Pact of 1916?
What was the main driver of renewed Indian nationalism during World War I?
Was humanitarianism the principal aim of European imperialism in Africa?
What were the chief causes and consequences of US military intervention in Nicaragua?
What were the effects of isolationism on US policy toward Turkey after the First World War?
How did the Abyssinian crisis undermine collective security?
How did Mexico’s approach to the Monroe Doctrine and its relationship with the United States
change between 1895 and 1905?

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