A topic sentence is a single sentence which appears as the first sentence of a body paragraph that states the main argument of that paragraph.
A good Topic Sentence answers one of your sub-questions.
After you have sorted all of your quotes according to the sub-questions they answer, you can start answering each sub-questions.
Your answer to each of your sub-questions will become your Topic Sentences.
Read your first sub-question again, in order to remind yourself what the question was asking.
Read all of the quotes that you said helped answer sub-question1.
Using the information from those quotes, write a single sentence answer to the question. This single-sentence answer will then become your first Topic Sentence.
Repeat the process above for the other two sub-questions until you have a Topic Sentence for each of your sub-questions.
What caused medieval castles to fall into disuse?
Quotes from Step 4 that help answer sub-question 3:
Castles became obsolete with the invention and improvement of gunpowder-based artillery (Hull, 2004, 33)
"Castles took years to build and, when new canon technology could destroy a fortification in a matter of days, they were no longer feasible" (Alchin, 2017, n.p.)
The development of modern artillery meant that attackers could destroy castles from a distance, which removed any advantage that defenders gained from their stone walls (Norris, 2007, 249)
Your answer to this sub-question (will become Topic Sentence 1):
Castles fell into disuse as a result of the development of gunpowder artillery because the new technology took away the advantages the defenders had enjoyed.
To test to see whether you have good Topic Sentences, go through the following checklist:
1. Does the Topic Sentence directly answer the sub-question?
Read the sub-question again and then the Topic Sentence. If the Topic Sentence directly answers the question, it is a good Topic Sentence.
2. Does the Topic Sentence provide specific details to answer the question.
A good Topic Sentence gives specific information that helps answer the question. The is usually preceded by words such as "because", "due to", or "as a result of".
"Castles fell into disuse as a result of the development of gunpowder artillery because the new technology took away the advantages the defenders had enjoyed."
Once you have a Topic Sentence for each sub-question, you are ready to create your hypothesis.
History Skills Online has a ready-to-use Research Journal that follows these 9 steps and provides links back to the website to help you at each stage of your research. You can grab it here.
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