How to Write a Research Paper on Ancient China

Ancient China is a fascinating and complex part of history. The term “ancient China” refers to the period that begins around 2100 BCE with the Xia Dynasty, and lasts through around 221 BC at the end of what is called the “Warring States period” It was during this latter period that seven different states were unified, creating the territory similar to what we know of as China today. The period sat China’s longest-lasting dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty of the Iron Age, and it also saw the development of philosophies like Confucianism and Taoism, which have had such an impact on world thought. Since this is such a long period of time, and such a complex civilization, there is no end to the possibilities for a research paper. For this same reason, however, it can be an intimidating subject to tackle. Where do you even begin?

Fortunately, the guidelines for writing a good research paper are simple, and can be used no matter what the subject matter is. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Have a good idea of what topic you want to write about before you begin to research. Otherwise you’ll get bogged down in research that you don’t end up using, and thus wasting valuable time and energy. You should start by brainstorming. What areas are you most interested in? Religion and philosophy, the laws under various dynasties, and wars and military history are all areas for which a good paper on Ancient China can be written. Perhaps you can browse an encyclopedia article on China just to stimulate some ideas. Write down everything, and then narrow your ideas down. Once you have it down to one or two, then you can start doing your research to see how much and what quality material there is on that subject. If you find there isn’t enough, move on to the next idea on your list.
  • Keep in mind the scope of your paper. You don’t want your topic to be on political life in the Zhou Dynasty if you’re only writing a 3 page paper.  That’s too broad a topic.
  • Remember that the goal of your research is to come up with a specific thesis, a positive claim about your topic for which you will be providing evidence. The more simple and concise the better.

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Posted by December 3rd, 2014