-First page must include research question,date, word count & table of contents (create a research question) preferably a “to what extent” type of question
3 sections in essay include
SECTION A :
Part A: OPCVL – this is where you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of TWO of your main sources (scholarly). The two sources must have differing perspectives on your historical question. In IB parlance, strengths are assessed as “values;” weaknesses are assessed as “limitations.” both values and limitations are assessed by referencing the origin, purpose, and content of a source. See OPCVL Guidance, p. 11, for more detail.
● Origin – notes who wrote the source, what the source is, when the source was written, and where the source was written.
● Purpose – notes why the author wrote the source.
● Content – notes the perspectives and evidence contained in the source
● Value – assesses how the source helps you answer your question
example: the writer of the source is a professor in economics therefore they have extended knowledge on the stock market crash
● Limitations – assesses the weaknesses of the source
SECTION B : Investigation
Context – briefly explain the historical context in which your question arises. Don’t just jump into describing and analyzing your sources.
Your HI should synthesize your research, not just walk through what each of your sources says about your research question. To do this, look for common themes across all of your research sources and pull them together into a discussion of that theme. For example:
o Research Question: What was the primary reason for US intervention in Cubain 1898?
Organize by Themes: pull together all of your notecards for all of your sources that
discuss each theme.
▪ The US intervened to advance American economic interests
▪ The US intervened to gain a strategic military advantage in the Caribbean
▪ The US intervened to help the Cubans gain independence
▪ The US intervened because the public pressured McKinley for war
● Analysis :
o Compare–for each theme, what are the points of similarity across your sources?
o Contrast–for each theme, what are the points where they differ?
o Evidence–what evidence does each source rely upon to support his/her view?
o Evaluation–which argument(s) seem the strongest to you? NOTE: you should be
using your OPCVL extensively here. Look at:
▪ Strength of the sources’ scholarly credentials
▪ Strength of the evidence supporting a source’s view
● What choices does the author make?
● What evidence is emphasized, discounted, or
omitted when comparing and contrasting the
▪ Strength of the author’s sources
● Is the book well-referenced?
● Does the author use a wealth of primary
● Does the author rely mostly upon the works of
● If evaluating events involving multiple countries (i.e., World War I), does
the author rely primarily on English sources?
▪ Availability of new evidence that other sources may not have had.
▪Bias – is the author’s view influenced by a personal political/economic/ ethnic/religious interest?
● Conclusion – make sure you answer your research question. Your analysis should lead you to a well-reasoned conclusion.
SECTION C : Reflection
This is where you will reflect on the task of being a historian. Your Reflection should focus on what was unique about YOUR investigation. What challenges did YOUR investigation present? How did YOU overcome them? If your Reflection is very generic and could be tacked onto any investigation, it is not specific enough to YOUR investigation.
1. Discuss the methods/steps you used similar to that of a historian…
● Differing perspectives? ● Reaching a conclusion?
2. How has this investigation helped you appreciate the challenges faced by the historian…
● Difficulty of research, too little or too much information?
● Dealing with differing perspectives?
● Working with unreliable/biased sources?
● Is there a difference working with primary sources compared to secondary? ● Determining the importance of one source above another?
● What conditions might affect the historian?
● The difficulty of reaching a conclusion?
3. Limitations of the role of a historian
● Can a historian distort history?
● The problem with history being subjective?
● The difficulty of providing a meaningful interpretation?
● The problem of history always being uncertain, always changing?
● How does the process of a historian differ to that of a mathematician or scientist?
Below reflection include citations
● Definitely NOT Scholarly source – Encyclopedias; news media articles, whether in print or on a website; articles appearing on interest group websites (i.e., Heritage Foundation, Brookings Institution); sources written for a young adult (YA) audience; Wikipedia; unpublished works; student thesis papers and dissertations.
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