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AP European History

Your research question 

  • Can be answered in multiple ways, does not have a simple yes or no answer
  • Focuses your research
  • Helps you choose, critically read and evaluate your sources 

Your preliminary thesis statement

  • Identifies the topic you are researching
  • May be refined or changed as you expand your sources

Your thesis statement 

  • Your answer to the research question, your opinion
  • Usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument 
  • Supported by evidence from sources cited in your paper‚Äč

Use the 5Ws to form a preliminary research quesiton:

1. Gather basic facts about your topic during background reading. 


Gender, age, class, race, ethnic group, nationality, political or religious sect, important individuals associated with topic


Specific event, war, battle, cultural idea, innovation, treaty, law, or political movement


Time period or era, reign, date


Country, empire, region


Choose a point of view from which you will approach the topic: social, cultural, political, military, economic, legal, artistic, technological, philosophical. You could also compare/contrast or look at cause/effect


Compare and contrast ideas, policies, or leaders, analyze cause and effect of a movement, event, battle or document, consider relationship between two or more factors


2. Combine the key words from each question:

TOPIC:  Industrial revolution
WHO:  farmers, factory workers, industrialists, women, children, urban dwellers, rural dwellers, immigrants
WHAT: steam engine, spinning jenny, cotton gin, quality of life, factory system, worker safety, stock companies, railroads
WHEN: 18th century, 19th century
WHERE: England, Western Europe, United States - northeast, midwest, south, west
HOW:  political, social/cultural, economic, cause/effect, compare/contrast

3.  One possible preliminary research question: 

  • How were women in the northeast United States economically impacted by the factory system?


Which of the following questions are: 1) specific and open ended, 2) can be answered in multiple ways, not with a simple yes or no, 3) the answer is arguable, open to interpretation


How did American isolationism influence the American munitions industry before World War II?

What effects did popular music of the 1960's have on U.S. foreign policy?

How did Hitler's narcissistic tendencies doom the German war effort?

How did the marriage between Isabella and Ferdinand influence Spain's foreign policy?

What was the prime motivation behind France's 1778 alliance with the United States: revenge against England or an endorsement of American republicanism?

To what extent did the lack of natural resources influence Japan's involvement in World War II?

Was it moral to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945?

Who was the most important individual within the Manhattan Project?

How did Elizabeth I use the theater to promote the Tudor dynasty?

How did the New Deal influence the American economy?

Which side had the best ships in the Anglo-Spanish naval battle of 1588?

How was Napoleon able to gain power in France?

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