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theprocrastinator

History research question too broad?

Hi! Just wondering if you think the question "What were the causes for Germany's invasion of Norway in 1940?" is too broad?

 

Thanks!

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I think that it a good place to start. By doing (more) research you may find that your question need to be altered.

I am not an expert on WWII but I do think that tying to account for all of the causes will be too difficult in 4000 words. You might consider looking at the political, military, or economic benefits (pick one cause and focusing on it) of invading Norway in 1940.

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Hey there,

The above poster says that it is a good place to start. I agree to that. However, your RQ does need change at some point.

First of all, your current RQ doesn't allow for any analysis whatsoever. In order to answer that question, you can just list the factors in bullet points and you're done. The outcome will essentially be a descriptive essay, not an analytical one. It should be the other way around. Instead, especially within the realm of history, you might want to consider questions starting with 'to what extent' or something like that. In order to answer those types of questions, you need to be at least somewhat analytical, although that does not directly lead to perfect analysis in and by itself.

Now, more closely tied with the substance of your topic. What kind of new information can you provide within those 4000 words?
It has been well-established that Operation Weserübung provided Germany with many economic benefits. This is due particularly to the mining in Northern Sweden, which was transported to Norwegian ports. German industry was highly reliant on the products of these mining ventures, and so invading Norway would secure the distribution of this ore and prevent British (Allied) blockade in the seas surrounding Norway and Denmark. The second main reason is the fact that Norway - with its long coastline - could provide a good platform for naval warfare against the British navy - more so than Germany's contemporary holdings (being the German and Polish coast - Germany invaded Netherlands and Belgium the following month).  Germany also considered Norway as an excellent place to defend itself, due to the unfriendly geography and long, rugged coastline - the only land borders being to the east. In order to defend Norway from British invasion, Germany started building coastal batteries and bunkers all around Norway, creating Festung Norwegen (Fortress Norway). Norway was, in fact, considered so secure that Hitler and the top leadership considered moving their HQ to Norway during the very last phase of the war. At any time during the war, at least 400 000 German soldiers were stationed in Norway - even as Germany was losing Berlin.

 

So, there, I've answered your current RQ in some detail in about 200 words. That's a problem for you. You want to be able to write 4000 relevant and analytical words about the topic, but I managed to write 200 descriptive words and still answer your RQ well. 

 

You might think now that this is because your topic is too narrow. That's not the case at all, the problem is the focus of your task. In fact, almost no matter how you frame it, dealing with the invasion of Norway is a very broad topic, and you actually want to narrow it down further in the future if you want to do well. Focus on one particular event. Or, even, focus on one particular document if you can, and assess its importance for the invasion or to what extent it lead to the invasion. I focused on four telegrams between Stalin and Mao, and from the analysis of those telegram, I managed to draw lines to the greater (geo-)political motives and issues relating to the Chinese intervention in the Korean War. Sounds difficult? Yeah, well, considering the fact that almost no-one has ever written about these exact telegrams, it was. You don't have to be that original - not by far - but if you want to do well, you need to highlight a part of history that is not covered that much. The causes of WW2 is well-researched, the causes of Operation Weserübung is well-researched, most of the Cold War is well-researched. You need to find a part of history that is not as well-researched but is still interesting. Also, make sure that the topic is either completely original (very difficult, not recommended unless you know what you're doing) or that there is some level of academic controversy. What I mean by that, is that academics disagree on the topic.  

 

That begs the question: What is well-researched? Essentially, if someone has written book chapters, books, etc. - essentially more than 4000 focused words - on the topic, then you know you should narrow things down a bit. That is also true in your case. The way to solve this is to do further research, read those book chapters, books, etc., and find that small controversy that is not highlighted that much. If you need further help on developing a RQ, see this post for a general process. 

 

In short, then, there are two core issues with your RQ:

1. It is descriptive rather than analytical.

2. It is very broad, yet easily answerable.

 

 

I should have given you some ideas on how to move on from here. :)  If something is unclear or anything, though, do ask! 

 

Good luck! 

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