Do you have questions about the rules for the National History Day contest? We are here to answer them!
Welcome to the NHD Online Discussion! We are addressing questions about the NHD contest rules.
To participate in the discussion, send your rule related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to have “NHD RULE DISCUSSION” in your email subject line. You will then see your question and answer appear below. (Please be patient, as the web page may take a few moments to load new material, and you may have to refresh your web browser.) Please note that this is not an “online chat” in the regular sense, but all questions and their answers will be posted on this discussion page as quickly as possible in the order received.
While you are waiting, have a look at the NHD theme page, available here. You may also want to review the NHD Rule Book, available here.
Please remember that this discussion is only about NHD contest rules. All unrelated questions will be addressed directly at a later time.
The Q&A below will remain posted on our web site through the Spring for you to view at your convenience.
Now that students use Weebly to construct their websites, how do students check on the amount of file space? How do judges check that the students have not exceeded the limit?
The NHD-Weebly Portal was built so that students cannot create a site larger than 100MB. A notice will appear when they have reached the limit, and they can then make appropriate changes. As long as the web site was correctly built using the NHD-Weebly Portal, judges will know that the site is within the 100MB limit.
I am a student in the topic selection phase. The topic I am leaning towards happened in 1996 (The Deep Blue vs. Kasparov Chess Match) as a turning point for computers. However since it happened relatively recently I was wondering whether this would qualify as "history".
While there is not a concrete “rule” about what is history and what is a current event, we generally say that a generation should have passed since the event. This is because historians need time to evaluate the event, see the impact and what changes have occurred over time because of it. In other words, historians need to come to conclusions on the historical significance.
My students have a quick question regarding the rules for the exhibit entries. The rules state that there is a 500 word limit. Is this for the total exhibit or for each individual component of the final product?
The 500 word limit applies to student-composed words, and is for the entire Exhibit entry.
My question is about exhibits and quotations/excerpts from sources:
1. For clarification purposes, there is no word limit to the amount of non-student written text so long as it is properly attributed.
2. Also, non-student text can be both primary and secondary source materials.
To address your first question, while that is technically correct, students should be careful about how much and what text they choose to display for quotations. Judges can tell when students attempt to use quotations as a way around the student-composed word limit. Students should select quotations that are relevant to their topic and to their thesis, and stay away from generalizations or unrelated information. As for your second question, yes, students may quote both primary and secondary sources. Again though, they want to choose these selections carefully.
My question is do secondary source quotes count toward the word count on a website? The rule book checklist for a website says that websites are limited to 1200 student composed words and the specific rules don't address secondary source quotes. Of course, we recognize that quotes from secondary sources should be used very selectively.
In the Web Site category, secondary source quotations do not count toward the student-composed word limit. However, they will need to be cited properly. And as you’ve noted, they should be selected and used carefully.
In an exhibit, does a timeline that is taken from a secondary source count towards the 500 word limit of student composed words?
Yes, if the student puts the timeline into his own words. If the timeline is excerpted exactly from the source, then it does not. However, as in other discussions above, students should think carefully about including too many quoted works on their exhibit. An exhibit should be a visual representation ofa student’s research.
In an exhibit, do secondary source quotes count towards the 500 word limit of student composed words?
Secondary source quotations do not count toward the student-composed word limit. However, they will need to be cited properly. And as you’ve noted, they should be selected and used carefully.
In an exhibit, do primary source quotes count towards the 500 word limit of student composed words?
No, quotations from primary sources do not count toward the 500 student-composed word limit.
In an exhibit, do captions under pictures and quotes count towards the 500 word limit of student composed words?
Yes, captions explaining the materials do count toward the student-composed word limit. However, brief citations stating the source of the image or quotation do not count.
In an exhibit, does the title count towards the 500 word limit of student composed words?
Yes, the title counts toward the word limit.
I am wondering if there is a chance that students might get disqualified if two students from the same school are doing very similar topics.
No, just because students from the same school are creating projects on similar topics does not mean they will be disqualified. However, the students may not share information or research with each other. If it is found that this is the case, this would be a violation of the rules. Please note, however, that disqualification will only occur in cases of plagiarism or reusing an entry from a previous year.
Can there be multiple 3 minute videos, or just one? Can there be multiple clips that all add up to 3 minutes of total time?
I assume you are referring to the Exhibit category rule. You may have multiple video or sound clips, but all together they can add up to no longer than 3 minutes.
I know that exhibits need to provide a simple citation for photos and other visuals on the exhibit. I've seen some Annotated Bibliographies also include a separate photo citation section. Should the formal citations for photos be treated like all the other sources used and be cited by the type of source (book, newspaper, collection, document, etc.) it came from?
Yes, every source must be cited, including photographs and other images. However, it is inappropriate to list multiple images taken from a single source as separate listings. They should be grouped together in the bibliography but cited individually within the exhibit. For example, if a student uses several images from a manuscript group from the National Archives, the bibliographic citation should list the manuscript group only once.
The rules say that the Annotated Bibliography should follow MLA or Turabian. I've seen winning projects that don't follow either of these styles. Are there other styles that are accepted?
These are the only accepted styles. Both styles have manuals that can be found in libraries and online and they provide examples of citations.
Please provide an explanation of the difference between a "well researched" project and a project that shows "research is balanced." These terms are from the score sheet.
Research is balanced when all sides of a story are represented. A well-researched project certainly includes balance but also a significant or thorough study of the topic, using available primary sources and secondary sources.
I have a student who is very technologically savvy, and he would like to use a platform other than Weebly to create his web site for National History Day. Is this possible, or does the NHD Contest require that he use Weebly?
No, students must use the NHD-Weebly web portal to create their web site entry for NHD. Within the NHD-Weebly web portal, students have access to all of the "pro tools" and are able to customize features of their site. For more information on the web site category, check out the category page on our website: http://nhd.org/CategoryWebsite.htm.
Can you please clarify how to cite an image that comes from a website? Do you include the URL? My son had different recommendations from different judges last year.
The answer to this question depends on which style guide you are using, either MLA or Turabian. The best policy is always to consult the guide. However, we realize there is a difference between older versions of MLA that require the URL and the newest version which does not. We have posted information on this on our website and have distributed to coordinators and judges. As long as the student remains consistent with the version of MLA he/she is using (not switching back and forth between versions), either version is acceptable. It might simply be a clarification question by the judges as to which version the student used.
I have often heard the topic must be at least 20 years old. Have even been told this my Nationals, but see nothing in writing. Is this an actual rule, or just a suggestion, or a silly rumor I need to ignore?
No, this is not a hard and fast rule. We generally use “20 years” or “a generation” as a guide, because it takes time for historians to be able to evaluate the event, see changes that have occurred over time because of it, and determine the impact and historical significance of the event. These secondary sources are crucial in the research process, and without enough information and analysis, a topic will not make a successful NHD project.
This year's topic, turning points in history seems to indicate you want the students to describe a specific event. Will judges be receptive to a presentation that represents a movement in history that took place over time?
Students should strive to find a “turning point” within the movement, or perhaps the spark that began the movement. The challenge is to establish the significance of the proposed turning point in history. Judges will determine if the student makes a good case for his topic. If you haven't already, have a look at the theme page on our website, here.
In the website category are you allowed to embed material from another website that you made yourself, on my Weebly website?
No, you are not allowed to embed material from an outside site even if you created the other site. All material must be contained within your NHD-Weebly web site.
In the Documentary category, for media clips, is there a limit on the number you can use? Are end credits included with the 10 minute limit?
No, there is not a limit on the number of media clips you can use in the Documentary category. However, you want to be sure you have properly cited all clips in your bibliography. And yes, the end credits are included in the 10 minute limit. For more details, have a look at the rule book on pages 17 - 19.
In my annotated bibliography for my Exhibit, should I make an extra section for interviews apart from primary and secondary sources, or should I include them?
No, you can include interviews as part of your primary or secondary sources, according to either MLA or Turabian style.
MLA 7 format does not include the URL of a cited website in the citation, however, I have been told by fellow participants in the competition that they should be put in. Is this true?
This was mentioned in an earlier question as well. If you are using MLA 7, you should remain consistent througout your bibliography and therefore not include the URL. If you are using an earlier version of MLA, you must remain consistent with that version and likely include the URL in your citation. The key is to be consistent with your chosen version. If any teachers or judges question the bibliography, you can explain which version of MLA you are using.
My friend and I would like to use barbed wire as a decoration on our Exhibit to make it look real, but we dont know if this is allowed. Would it be considered potentially dangerous? Should we use a replica that could not hurt anybody?
Yes, we would suggest you use a replica of some sort that would not be able to injur yourselves or the judges viewing your Exhibit.
I am doing a group exhibit. I have 3 questions:
1) Do both group members have to turn in separate processs papers?
No, one process paper per group entry.
2) If we make a media production with our exhibit, how long may it be?
Media clips on Exhibit entries can be no longer than three minutes. Have a look at page 15 in the rule book for more details.
3) Do words spoken in the media production count towards the 500 word limit, or only words written?
If the spoken words are student composed, they will count toward the word limit.