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History IA Question. Help!

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I'm really struggling coming up with a historical investigation topic because there is just so much to choose from!! Right now, I'm trying to think of a very narrow, direct question that is still interesting. Here is what I've come up with:

"To what extent did the invention of the cotton gin promote slavery in the United States?"

--I think this might be kind of weak and obvious, but I'm not really sure what IB expects. I'm only a Junior!! :)

I just really need some constructive criticism!! Any help is greatly appreciated!

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It is kind of obvious. Try to think of something a little less-obvious, something where the answer isn't blatant, there are multiple interpretations, etc. Think about what historical time periods you are interested in and start researching there.

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There is no point starting with a very narrow question as you might find that there isn't enough material to support what you are trying to say. I did that mistake with mine and probably changed my question three times and not only gave in my IA late but I finished it being completely fed up of the topic I chose. It is better that you find a rough topic that interests you, including a certain time frame: if you are looking at the promotion of cotton gin (I have NO idea about that topic as I don't study it), the most helpful thing you can do is:

  • Go to a library
  • Collect as many books as you can on the topic
  • IMPORTANT: do not attempt to READ every single book fully unless you are an incredibly fast reader and it will help you
  • Rather look at key words at the back and find the pages in the book in which your topic is addressed
  • Use these as facts and USE FOOTNOTES

This way you will not only have multiple sources, but the more you read on the topic, the more you will be able to narrow your question down to a precise and interesting one.


Good Luck!

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