Tips for writing a JFK term paper

As the school year gets underway and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy approaches in November, high school and college students will likely be intrigued by a subject they may have read about or heard about from parents or grandparents.

You may be assigned or even want to write a research or term paper about the events of November 1963.

Go for it. Here are five tips on how to to about writing a JFK term paper.

Understand the importance of the subject. JFK’s assassination on November 22, 1963, was the 9/11 of its day: a day that set the country on a different course. Like 9/11/, 11/22 was as a pivotal moment in American history. Among other things, JFK’s presidency coincided with the ascendancy of national security agencies whose extraordinary powers of secrecy and surveillance are on display today.

Engage in critical thinking. There are lots of JFK conspiracy theories out there, lots of YouTube videos on the subject, lots of misinformation and disinformation. Learn the facts before you commit to any particular conspiracy or anti-conspiracy theory.

Third, get online. Visit, which has the most complete introduction to the historical record of JFK’s murder. The online world (not the U.S. government) offers the largest body of information about the investigations of Kennedy’s murder.

Look at the “Starting Points” page. Unlike most JFK assassination sites, the doesn’t argue for any one theory. It provides the evidence so you can make up your own mind about who killed JFK.

Fourth, keep it simple. Whatever you choose as your topic, address it systematically in your paper. When I asked one reader of JFK Facts how to write a JFK term paper, he said this:

“Get good a conceptual grasp of what happened, where it happened, and when it happened.”

“What, where, and when are three of the five basic interrogatories. The other two are how and why; they’ll form part of the conclusion of the research paper.”

Describe what happened, where it happened and when it happened. Then ask yourself, how did it happen? And why did it happen?

You’ll ace it.

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6 thoughts on “Tips for writing a JFK term paper”

  1. Ockham’s Razor is indeed the best way to address this enduring conundrum…

    HSCA’s explanation of “Umbrella Man”- A protest about Neville Chamberlain, Joe Kennedy’s appeasement of Nazi’s etc.


    Some bloke signalling for a firing squad to commence shooting…which it did.


    The Magic/Pristine bullet theory.


    More than one person shooting.

    Use “Old Ockham’s” shaving device correctly and it will pay dividends.

  2. Brian’s comment is probably the best that has been posted on this site in months.
    Particularly point #2- a fatal flaw to most conspiracy theories.

  3. In Nov. 1976, at the National Symposium on the Kennedy Assassination at UW-Stevens Point, Professor David R. Wrone talked about his suggestions for how to think about issues surrounding the JFK case. These were the seven points he made. I leave out the examples he gave to save space. The video may be viewed at the Weisberg Digital Archive.
    1. Use common sense: does the argument make sense to you?
    2. Ockham’s razor: When presented with a set of facts and having the choice of a complex or simple explanation, use the simple explanation.
    3. Avoid false connections: association doesn’t mean cooperation Be wary whenever one group or individual is connected to another group or individual just by association.
    4. Undocumented assertions: is there actual evidence for the claim? What kind of source is it?
    5. Avoid devil theories: trying to explain all the evils of the world from one group. Be wary of theories that blame a particular group for all evils, with the assassination explained in that context.
    6. Procrustean bed explanations: trying to make the facts fit a theory. Procrustes, a Greek mythic figure, made victims “fit” his torture bed.
    7. Over-reliance on one fact: distorting reality and the evidence.

    1. 1. The magic bullet that penetrated both Kennedy and Connally makes complete sense.

      2. Oswald strolled out of the Texas School Book Depository Building in broad daylight, took public transportation to his room in a boarding house, shot a policeman, and waltzed into the Texas Theatre to await his arrest.

      3. Propinquity is seldom ignored in criminal investigations.

      4. The perpetrators of the assassination of an American President left a paper trail because they were obedient servants the US Government.

      5. There is no Unifying Theory that connects certain people ideologically; the Tea Party has taught us that.

      6. Oswald was a victim of acolytes of Procrustes.

      7. George Joannides’ files will lead us to the assassins.

  4. Whether a believer in conspiracy or a Lone Gunman,read the Warren Report.Understand what you are attacking – or defending.

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