Additional Documents

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Additional Documents

Another task that needs to be accomplished in a DBQ is to (1) suggest an additional document that would be helpful in answering the question more fully and (2) explain how the additional document would help address the prompt.

What kinds of documents are needed in a DBQ?

Since a document set in any DBQ is limited to ten or so documents, on any topic there are bound to be other views that were not expressed within provided documents. Sometimes the views or opinions of the documents that are not included in the document set could substantially change an answer to the question. So, when reading and planning a response to a DBQ, it is important to consider: what is the missing voice? The additional document requirement of an AP World History DBQ is designed to force students to consider these issues.

The additional document requirement is often referred to as “analyzing the missing voice,” because requesting another document that duplicates the source of a document that has already been provided not appropriate. Instead consider:

  • Gender – if all the documents are by men then a document from a woman’s point of view might be helpful in getting a more complete picture.

  • Class – if all documents are written by elites, the perspective of someone from the middle or lower classes could be illuminating. This logical could also apply to occupations as well.

  • Ethnicity – if all documents have been written by members of a single ethnic or religious group, then a document from someone outside of those groups would provide a different perspective.

  • Region of source – if a particular society is mentioned in a document or the historical background but does not have its own document, then a document from the society in question may be warranted.

How can the additional document be addressed?

First, consider the information that is not provided, but would help answer the question (within reason).  Then, suggest a kind of document or a document from a certain source that would be helpful. It is important to keep in mind that the content and ideas within the document cannot be determined, rather suggest a document that might shed light on the situation. Finally, the suggested document must be justified by explaining how it would help to answer the question.

Consider a request for an additional document as a triangle sentence whose three parts are:


                                                  Document desired


Why documents present in                     Why this document would

the DBQ already are not                               help answer the question.

sufficient to answer the question

A common sentence structure for suggesting and justifying an additional document:
A document by a ___________(type of person) from ___________(place) at ___________(time) would help determine ___________(grouping) .”

Where can the additional document be addressed?

There are several approaches to placing the additional document in an DBQ essay that are appropriate.

  • A common placement of this requirement is in the introductory paragraph after the thesis statement. This approach gets the requirement out of the way, but it likely limits the author to suggesting only a single additional document.

  • Another common placement of this requirement is in the conclusion paragraph. This approach acknowledges the awkwardness of suggesting an additional document and attempts to wrap up the essay by suggesting additional ideas to consider. This, however, leaves a basic requirement until the last second of writing, which may not be advisable.

  • Perhaps the recommended place to address the additional document is at the end of each body paragraph. In this way, the additional document should be connected to answering the question, because it directly clinches the topic sentence / grouping that began the paragraph. Also, this approach means that the author will make multiple attempts at the requirement.

 What are some common mistakes?

  1. Avoid asking for a document to simply “check the accuracy” of another document. The suggested additional document should be directed toward rounded out an answer to the question or more fully analyzing a grouping.

  1. Avoid simply requesting another document from a source or a kind of source already included in the document set.

  1. Avoid asking for a source that is not relatively possible – for example: written document from Inca, photograph prior to late 1800s, etc

  1. Avoid asking for a secondary source (history book, etc)


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