How to Write a Historiography Conclusion
When historians study the same historical records and sources, they often come away with vastly different opinions about why things happened as they did. This variety, called historiography, is what makes history such a fascinating subject.
Historians study how other historians have written about the past to understand what tools they used (variety of primary sources, research methods, projection mechanism) and what results they got.
Identify the main points of your thesis
Unlike the physical sciences where a set of facts produces clear, agreed-upon answers, history often churns out a variety of explanations and conclusions. This variation is a result of the fact that different historians use the same primary sources to study the same events, but then arrive at different interpretations and explanations.
Historians are also influenced by their own experiences and beliefs. This is why historiography is important. Historiography is the study of how history has been written, and a good historiographical essay will demonstrate how a historian’s ideas have changed over time.
It is helpful to situate your historiography early in your paper, ideally in the introduction. This will help to familiarize your reader with the history of your topic in broad terms and establish the context for your research. It will also demonstrate how your work intervenes within, and/or revises, existing scholarly debates on the subject. This will strengthen your argument and make it more compelling to your readers.
Summarize your findings
The goal of historiography is not only to learn about the past, but also to understand how historians have interpreted the same events. Historians can work with the same primary sources, but arrive at vastly different interpretations. Historiographies are the study of these differences and debates.
Historiography is a broad topic and can include essays, books, and articles about how historians approach their research and write history. Historians use historiography to analyze, critique, and evaluate the current state of historical knowledge about a particular subject.
When writing a historiography paper, it is important to talk specifically about how your own work fits into the historiographical dialogue on your subject. If you do not do this, your readers will lose track of what your paper is about. To help them keep track, your historiography should clearly outline how your work builds on or disagrees with the previous research on your topic. This is the main point of your historiography and should be included in the introduction of your paper.
Restate your thesis
Ensure your conclusion does not talk about anything new, but rather summarises what has been previously proven in your essay. This will make your essay less repetitive. Also, try to avoid any generalisations (a common problem in history essays).
Depending on whether you are writing a stand-alone historiography paper or using it as an introduction for your own research project or graduate thesis, your historiography will either conclude with a purpose statement or a historiographical overview of the current state of knowledge on your topic. In the latter case, your historiography will identify influential books and papers and reveal the shape of scholarly debate on your subject.
Weak: The Revolution had little effect on women, as they remained in the home. Strength: The Revolution gave women many opportunities, but it did not significantly change their day-to-day lives. The argument here is more complex and acknowledges that some changes were positive, but not enough to outweigh the negative effects.
Summarize your sources
When writing a historiography, you will need to research the history of the topic that you are investigating. You will then need to analyze the different perspectives of historians that have written about that topic and find areas where they agree or disagree.
Historians often study the same historical records and archival materials and yet come away with vastly different conclusions about why events happened the way that they did. A good historiography essay will explore why historians’ ideas about the same subject have changed over time and explain how these changes have influenced the research that has been done on a particular subject.
Unlike a book review, historiography essays often focus on articles rather than full-length books. However, it is important to include articles that have been peer-reviewed for the best results. You will also want to consider how historians from various “schools” of thought have approached the same subject, and how their approaches differ.