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Research Style Guide. Prepared by: Michele Farquharson Teacher-librarian Vancouver School Board Thanks to Vancouver Teacher-librarians: Karen Cordiner, Valerie Dare, Val Hamilton, Peggy Lasser, Pat Parungao, and Colleen Tsoukalas. Preamble.

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research style guide

Research Style Guide

Prepared by:

Michele Farquharson


Vancouver School Board

Thanks to Vancouver Teacher-librarians: Karen Cordiner, Valerie Dare, Val Hamilton, Peggy Lasser, Pat Parungao, and Colleen Tsoukalas

  • This Research Guide reflects the changing needs of our students. It supports students’ use of several types of resources so that they may become familiar with the wealth of information available. Critical thinking is fostered by exploring differing points of view that the project may bring to light. Using Webcatstudents are directed to VSB’s online catalogue which includes: print materials, databases, online reference materials, links to websites, ebooks, and other materials.
As students become more computer literate, resources or tools that are online may be more user friendly.

This is not to suggest that all research or projects should be completed with computers. Indeed, we must consider student learning styles when designing units of study. Students who are kinesthetic learners may need the process of physically writing, to assist with their learning. Many reading strategies incorporate the use of drawing, for example; split images; listen, draw and draft; and mind mapping.

becoming information literate
Becoming Information Literate
  • The Research Quest


These are the steps that can be followed in completing a research project. Although intended to be followed in this order, the steps, particularly “Work with the Information” and “Focus”, can be interchanged. Some learning styles require students to “Work with the Information” (read, view, listen) in order to “Focus”.

why notetaking
Why notetaking?

With the ease with which students can copy and paste to documents, it is crucial that we teach them how to avoid plagiarism.

Cybersmart school offers lessons from K – 8 on technology topics such as: Safety, Research and Manners. Manners includes discussion of plagiarism and Fair use along with student activity pages.


For older grades Purdue is one site that give suggestions and practises for avoiding plagiarism.

try a plagiarism tutorial from plagiarism game
Try a plagiarism tutorial from:Plagiarism game

The best way to avoid plagiarism is teaching students how to take good notes and how to paraphrase. An internet search will lead you to many good exercises to teach this skill.


Students must also learn how to cite their sources. Citation Machine andNoodleToolsare bibliography makers that are easy to use.

the research quest model explaining the steps
The Research Quest Model(Explaining the steps)
  • First the research topic is identified, (Focus) then subtopics can be generated by: making an outline, brainstorming, preparing a web, or (Find and Filter)
  • Later, notes are written to support the subtopics. (Working with the information). When the final project is completed students Communicate the information, which can take a variety of forms.
  • The final stage requires students to Reflect on their work.
An alternate way is to take notes first, (Work with information) group the notes together and generate headings from the notes (Focus). A sample of this lesson can be found at the end of these slides
  • Some students find it helpful to generate questions about the topic, group the questions together, think of a word or phrase to describe the questions and from those words or phrases, form an outline.
At times a topic is assigned to the student; students do not have to narrow or broaden their topic.
  • At other times the student is given a choice of topics. Depending on the appropriate information (e.g. amount, readability) found during the “Find and Filter” stage, students may need to refocus.

Search tools to broaden or refine

  • Students can also generate an outline just by brainstorming their topic or making a web (see sections below).

An outline reflects logical thinking and clear classification. An outline can be:

- A logical, general description

- A schematic summary (a drawing or flow chart)

- An organizational pattern

- A visual and conceptual design of your writing

purpose general aids in the process of writing
PurposeGeneral: Aids in the process of writing.


  • Helps you organize your ideas
  • Presents your material in a logical form
  • Shows the relationships among ideas in your writing
  • Constructs an ordered overview of your writing
  • Defines boundaries and groups
at the outset students need to
At the outset, students need to:
  • Determine the purpose of the paper.
  • Determine the audience theyare writing for.
  • Develop the thesis of the paper.


Brainstorm: List all ideas to be includes in their paper.

Organize: Group related ideas together.

Order: Arrange material in subsections from general to specific or from abstract to concrete.

Label: Create main and subheadings



“The basic format for an outline uses an alternating series of numbers and letters, indented accordingly, to indicate levels of importance.

Here is an example of an outline on a paper about the development of Japanese theatre:


“The thesis is stated in the first section, which is the introduction.

The body follows the introduction, and breaks down the points the author wishes to make.

Note that some section have subdivisions, others do not, depending on the demands of the paper.

In this outline, II, III, & IV all have similar structure, but this will not necessarily be true for all papers. Some may only have three major sections, others more than the five given here.

Your conclusion should restate your thesis, and never introduce new material.”

I. Thesis: Japanese theatre rose from a popular to elite and then returned to a popular art form.

II. Early theatrical forms

A. Bugak

B. Sarugaku

C. Primitive Noh

D. Authors and Audience

III. Noh theatre

A. Authors

B. Props

1. Masks

a. women b. demons c. old men

2. Structure of Stage

C. Themes

1. Buddhist influence 2. The supernatural

D. Kyogen interludes

E. Audience

IV. Kabuki

A. Authors B. Props”

Copied from:


Key Visual

A good key visual for elementary is from Houghton Mifflin. It illustrates theneed to tie the topic and conclusion together.

  • The Sandwich

Detailed information on types of outlines can be found at this Wikipedia link (Grade 8 +):

  • wikipedia outlining
  • It contains descriptions and examples of:
  • 1 Outlining reports
  • 1.1 Topic and sentence outlines
      • 1.1.1 Topic outlines
    • 1.2 Alphanumeric outlines
      • 1.2.1 Sample alphanumeric outline
    • 1.3 Decimal outlines
      • 1.3.1 Sample decimal outline
  • 2 Outlining stories
    • 2.1 Location outlines
  • 2.2 Plot outlines
  • “Webbing is a way of showing relationships among ideas, concepts or events in a visual form. As students work through this process an organizing template or outline is produced.”
  • webbing 1
  • webbing 2
  • “Brainstorming is a large or small group activity which encourages children to focus on a topic and contribute to the free flow of ideas. … By expressing ideas and listening to what others say, students adjust their previous knowledge or understanding, accommodate new information and increase their levels of awareness. …
  • This process is also used individually to encourage students to record their ideas and later organize them in a way that links their thoughts together.”


WebcatTo locate different types of resources, students need to be able to use the VSB Horizon catalogue, Webcat.

Online Catalogue Help from Prince of Wales Secondary Prince of Wales Library

As part of the Webcat catalogue, students need to be taught how to use the online databases as each database serves a particular need.

Remote access:

Worldbook online - Username: vsbstudent

Password: vsbstudent

All other databases: username: 39XX

Password: library

Webfeet: login: library

Educational internet sites are also directly linked from the catalogue.

website evaluation
Website Evaluation

Not all websites are valid. (See Internet Hoaxes – Male pregnancy, Tree Octopus…)

Tree Octopus

Evaluate websites using QUICK: The Quality Information Checklist at: Quick

PW web evaluation

Other strategies for evaluating Web sites.

NotetakingTaking relevant, complete and well-organized notes and analyzing the information is the major part of this step.
  • It is this step where students discover that the topic they have chosen can be too narrow or too broad and a refocus is necessary.
  • To locate needed information have students complete the following:
  • Survey – table of contents, index, headings, and chapter titles to locate subjects relating to the topic.
  • Skim the chosen article/pages.
  • Read headings, subheadings and chapter titles.
  • Look at key visuals – e.g., pictures, maps, graphic organizers
  • Read opening paragraph of appropriate sections
  • Read final paragraph summary
  • Read materials under headings such as: “A Review”, “Conclusion”, “In Short”.
  • Review - scan materials for key words, numbers and dates
points to remember when taking notes
Points to remember when taking notes:
  • Brief and relevant (no sentences)
  • Use only key words and phrases (do not use the, a, an...)
  • do not copy “word for word”
  • record bibliographic information as you use a resource
alternative to writing notes in an outline
Alternative to Writing Notes In An Outline:
  • After students locate relevant information in a resource, students write key words on post-it notes. Later these notes are organized under appropriate headings. This ensures long passages are not copied.
  • Many teacher use highlighters and photocopied passages to teach and model note taking. Overhead or LCD projectors are used to demonstrate highlighting of key words. Passages written out on chart paper can be used with precut pieces of cellophane for primary classes. Use powerpoint and use the pen option.
  • The following link suggests ways note taking can be done on computer.


note taking templates
Note taking templates
  • Primary
  • What is the big question that you wonder about your topic?

Author: ___________ Title:_____________


________________ __________________

________________ __________________

six different ways to take notes
Six different ways to take notes:

Gladstone notetaking

  • point or dash form
  • web diagram
  • outlines
  • study guide
  • two column notes
  • graph, map, chart, graphic organizer, or illustration

After notes have been collected, students will compose opening sentences for each heading. An opening sentence is a general sentence that tells what the rest of the paragraph is going to be about This is a difficult task for primary students but should be introduced in these grades. By grade 4 the IRP lists:

C2 - write a variety of clear informational writing for a range of purposes and audiences, featuring

– clearly developed ideas by using clear, focused, useful, and interesting details and explanations

elements of a good report can include
Elements of a good report can include:
  • title page
  • table of contents
  • introduction
  • body (of paragraphs)
  • key visuals
  • conclusion
  • works cited/references
table of contents
Table of Contents



Introduction 1

Appearance 2

Behavior 3

Habitat 4

Map 5

Conclusion 6

Bibliography 7

  • An introduction explains, or gives an overview of the project. The paragraph should include the thesis statement (opinion or view) that the rest of the report will be about.
  • Powerpoint (secondary) on what to include in an introduction:
  • Writing introductions
body of paragraphs
Body (of paragraphs)

The report will be evaluated based on the content and original ideas as well as the mechanics of writing. Many teachers use C.O.P.S. when marking written work. This includes:

C = Complex sentences

O = Opening sentences are included

P = Punctuation

S = Spelling

Include page 21 from previous handout.

5 paragraph essay(Good explanation of how to write a 5 paragraph essay.)

graphic organizers key visuals
Graphic Organizers (Key visuals)
  • Essentially, a graphic organizer is visual way of organizing information. It shows not only the content of a text but also the structure of that information. Visual learners and ESL students benefit from using these devices as they show how information is related. For instance, a pyramid showing a food chain is a graphic organizer since it shows the relationship between a predator, its prey and the environment.
key visuals graphic organizers
Key Visuals & Graphic Organizers
  • The site below describes key visuals and provides blank diagrams such as time lines and flow charts that you can download and fill in. Graphic Organizers
  • Refer to the Knowledge Framework for more information.
  • Samples of all specific graphic organizers are available through a Google search.
  • Other good examples can be found in:
    • Parks, Sandra and Howard Black. Organizing thinking. Pacific Grove, CA: Critical thinking Press & software, 1990.
  • Online timelines:
    • Timeline maker - 5 entries
    • Timeline maker 2
sites for students to use
Sites for students to use
  • Simple Wikipedia
  • This site is written at a Grade 4/5 level and is intended for ESL students. Students can translate back and forth to other languages. Currently there are thirteen languages available.
  • Wiki junior books
  • The aim of this project is to produce a series of full-color booklets for children aged 8 to 11. Some current titles include: The Solar System, Dinosaurs and Ancient Civilizations.

Writing conclusions

Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper. Some writers find it easier to write the conclusion at the beginning of the writing process. A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best. The conclusion should be the best part of the paper

  • A conclusion should
    • stress the importance of the thesis statement,
    • give the essay a sense of completeness, and
    • leave a final impression on the reader.
works cited references
Works cited/References
  • Online bibliography makers:
    • NoodleTools Chose BibExpress
    • Citation machine

Two ways for students to communicate their research paper with others are an oral presentation or a powerpoint.

  • A rubric for oral presentations:
    • Oral presentations
  • A rubric for PowerPoint presentations:
    • Powerpoint
    • A good Tutorial for teaching powerpoints is:
    • Powerpoint tutorial
  • The student completes the writing process by considering whether the task was successful, whether the process was effective, and/or if there are any changes that they would make to improve further research tasks.

Marsville – lesson plan

Objective: Students will be able to organize notes in a way that will formulate an outline.

Materials: Several books, encyclopedias, articles about Mars for each table group, large strips of paper, masking tape, different coloured felt pens for each table.

Procedure: Assign the following duties to a member of each table group – fact finder, fact writer, taper, note puter-upper, duplicate taker-downer, resource exchanger.

Review what a note is. Model all the steps that will be completed in the table group. Elaborate on the role of the duplicate taker-downer, stressing scanning. Teacher will give 2 minute warning before time and any table groups with duplicate notes up, have points deducted. The winning table will have the most facts up (all one colour).


Teacher goes through notes and groups similar ideas together. Have students generate a heading for the types of notes listed.

This outline is recorded and used for research on planets. This procedure can be used for many “generic” topics. (Countries, animals, explorers…)

this presentation was designed to be added to and expanded upon
This presentation was designed to be added to and expanded upon.

We hope you will add your own slides or email suggestions/ websites to either Pat or Michele so that we keep a master copy and revise it at a later date.

Thank you for all your expertise.