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History IA Topic Selection/Phrasing

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I'm trying to get a headstart on my Investigation, and I was wondering if you guys could help me:


  • a) narrow down my choices
    b) choose a topic
    c) phrase my question well

These are the topics I have in mind:


  • 1. How/in what ways did the involvement of women in the Nicaraguan Revolution help, and how did it impact the cause of feminism around the world?
    2. To what extent was the dictatorship-like governing of Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta a direct result of inadequate resources provided by colonial Britain regarding the governing of a newly formed (as in the borders were just formed?) and/or newly independent country?
    3. How did the response to the Zimmermann Telegram differ from the USA to Mexico, and to what extent did their resulting actions cause the start of WWI?

Any and all advice will be appreciated =)

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All three questions are very good starters, way better than when I started mine!

#1: This is sort of like two different questions. The first is: how did women help the Nicaraguan Revolution? and the second is: How did women's involvement in the Nicaraguan revolution impact feminism? Remember, you only have 2500 words!

I'd start by picking one of those, and changing it from a how question (which might lead you to just summarizing research, which IB hates) to a "why" question / "to what extent" question.

I personally like #2, since mine was kind of like that, but about Israel.

It's always good to do a "to what extent" question because that way you can bring in different points of view (which IB loves) and analyze the limitations of your arguments (which IB loves).

#3 Might be a little too specific, I'm not sure if you can find enough to argue about the Zimmerman telegram. The first part is also narrative (i.e., you'll just be parroting research, which IB hates). But go for it if you're really interested.

be sure to talk to your teacher as well, they will help you narrow down your question(s).

Make sure you pick something you're interested in! (or it will be death)

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I agree with Jakebert about forming the research question.

I'm confused about #3. I thought Mexico never received the actual telegram? Would you be looking into how the Mexican government responded to the fact that they were supposed to receive this telegram? I think this question is interesting, but it seems like you might just be going on a tangent with Mexico if the second part of your question asks to what extent the actions of the US [i assume you only meant US] affected the outcome of WW1. The Zimmermann Telegram [or was it Telegraph?] did not cause WW1, right? I'm not a history buff, but I'm fairly certain the telegram provoked the US to enter the war, among other things.

For #1, if you were to focus on the latter question, you'd have to probably compare two cases. I don't think you could do it in the word limit [which is 2000, not 2500, I think]. I like the first part... something like "to what extent did the involvement affect the outcome of the revolution in terms of _____ [and ______]?" So you could focus even more by analyzing one or two aspects.

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So two part questions are a no-no? Good to know. I guess 2000 looks like a big number now, but it really isn't .. ?

I'm having a little difficulty understanding the beginnings. If I used 'to what extent', my conclusion won't go along the lines of "to such and such an extent" ? Or will it be a definite answer? I think the wording's weird, and although we've been using it a while I still don't understand where/when to use it.

Also, to my understanding through my limited research so far, Mexico did indeed receive the Telegram from the ambassador to Mexico, at which time the President tried to assess whether it was feasible for Mexico to attack and take 'their' states back. Perhaps my info is flawed, though. Not entirely sure.

Would you suggest "to what extent did the involvement of women affect the outcome of the revolution in terms of freedom for women and the spread of Sandino's ideology?" Because even though the women were part of the revolution, they weren't necessarily welcome and were still treated like crap. So maybe I could compare how one goal was accomplished while the other wasn't?

Thanks for your help, by the way.

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I'll try to answer what I can. :D

The reason 2000 words really isn't that much is because your investigation is divided into parts. You have the intro, summary of evidence, evaluation of sources, analysis, and conclusion [i may have left out a part. This was off the top of my head.] So you're really only talking about your actual topic a little bit in the intro, all the facts in the summary, and your views supported by the facts in the analysis and your take on it in the conclusion. It's not really 2k words about the subject itself.

I wouldn't say two part questions are a definite no-no. If you have something very specific, and it naturally leads into a related question that is also specific, this is doable.

As for your conclusion, it's good to take a stance. Definitely do. But do want to add a dash of humility and say that you're investigating. You don't have all of the answers. And "to what extent" answers are not going to be exact. They're your opinion backed up by fact. You want to use "to what extent" in a question because it allows you to add your interpretation and express what you think. There's no solid answer out there for that kind of question. To answer the question, I'd set up parameters to close in on the degree or extent of effect something had. I'd say it wasn't the only factor but it was more important than so and so. Something like that where I narrow the boundaries of the answer as much as possible, showing that I know my stuff because I've researched it thoroughly.

My teachers have always told me that the UK intercepted the telegram and that Mexico never got it, but I wouldn't be too surprised if what you say is true.

I don't know about the revolution at all, so I don't know what the second thing is. I think the question is valid, and if it's interesting to you, then you should pursue it. I don't see any blaring problems with it, but you'll want to talk to someone who knows the subject so that this person can provide you with better advice =)

Good luck.

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I ended up choosing:

"to what extent did the involvement of women in an armed capacity in the Nicaraguan Revolution affect the eventual success of the revolution?"

my teacher said it would be easier to look into this, however I don't really trust my teacher because his track record has not landed anyone anything more than 8/20 :D

Thanks for all your help, I think I'll be asking for mroe help as time goes by because our teachers are of no help whatsoever.

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