The Research Paper can address any topic in American History that occurred after 1877. Choose one that has at least two interpretation or answers to it. For example, you might write on the use of atomic bombs in 1945 to end the war with Japan. The paper would say whether or not you think this decision was correct. If you write on the Civil Rights Movement, you might say whether or not the Movement achieved the goals it set out to obtain. Begin the paper with an introductory paragraph that clearly identifies your topic and contains a thesis statement that says what you are going to do with it. Use the academic third person, so that it says “The paper will show,” not “I will show.” The Research Paper is basically a persuasive essay in which your goal is to convince your reader that your interpretation or answer on the topic is correct. State your interpretation or answer in the thesis statement so that it is clear from the beginning what you are trying to do. The thesis statement would therefore be something like this: “This paper will examine the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 in order to demonstrate that the decision to use the bombs was correct.” Think about the order of events, themes, or examples of your topic, as with whether they work best in chronological or thematic order. Get to the point in the paper.
It is appropriate to provide some background leading up to your topic, like the course of the war against Japan that led up to the use of the atomic bombs, but this should take no more than one page at the most. Address views or evidence that opposes your thesis. This shows that you have done your research. A page for it should be enough. Do this before you defend your thesis, and then follow with the bulk of the paper that explains why your thesis is correct. End the paper with a concluding paragraph. This basically sums up what you have just done and includes any insights or conclusions you have obtained. If you want to editorialize on your topic, this is the best place for it. Do not rely on overlong quotes from sources to make points in a paper. Introduce quotes when you use them so that it is clear who or what is speaking.