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History IA Research Question help!?

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So I am thinking of doing my History IA on the internment of Japanese Americans. Is this research question good?

To what extent were the Japanese internment camps unnecessary violations of Japanese Americans’ rights?

 

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Hey there,

I think you need to think a bit deeper. Currently, your RQ is suffering from one - maybe two - severe shortcomings.

The first one, which I think is the worst one and the one needing change the most, is that your question is an ethical question rather than a history-based question. On top of that, you are including a very subjective word, that being 'unnecessary'. What qualities does a violation need to have to be considered unnecessary? From what perspective? What rights are we speaking about - the ones they had back then or those they enjoy today? The inquiry that is implied by the RQ will involve some superficial history literature in that you need to describe what rights the Japanese Americans had, as well as what actually happened (i.e. the Americans placed Japanese Americans in certain camps), but will rely on philosophical and ethical works to actually answer the question. That is not how it should be. Instead, the research question should pose a question that is deeply rooted in history. You might want to include some philosophical debate, but that should be very limited - the core should be history. The safest way of doing this is by focusing on cause-and-effect. To what extent did A cause B? To what extent was B a consequence of C rather than of A? If you have difficulties on this point, then I suggest you see my posts here to get an idea of how you can work your way to a good RQ. Just keep in mind, that is for a history EE, and you should try to be even a bit more specific than what would have been the case for the EE. 

As for the second possible shortcoming - if we ignore the word 'unnecessary' - are there any uncertainty of whether or not the rights of Japanese Americans were violated? Are there any academic debates on the topic? Do experts disagree? If everyone agrees, then you have nothing to write about. The RQ needs to be on something where people disagree to some extent - there needs to be a contention. I haven't done research on the topic myself, but I don't imagine there are too many in the current expert discourse that says that their rights were not violated. If I am wrong, then all is fine, but if I am right, then you need to reconsider the exact framing of the question. Go to the thread I linked to - I describe in detail how you should develop and frame your puzzle. Again, the response in that thread is intended for EEs, so you need to be much more specific than what I was telling the other user there, but the main principles remain the same. 

 

Good luck!

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