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The Research Project. Learning the Process. Writing a Research Paper. “ All Life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better” Ralph Waldo Emerson What is a research paper?

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the research project

The Research Project

Learning the Process

writing a research paper
Writing a Research Paper

“All Life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is a research paper?

  • A research paper involves a quest for knowledge, and then a thoughtful analysis of the information found.
  • A Research paper is YOUR own ideas, backed up by the ideas and information of EXPERTS in the field.
types of research papers
An analytic paper uses evidence to analyze one aspect of an issue. To analyze means to break down the information, becoming in a sense, an expert yourself. This paper consists of you arranging the material as you understand it, and then contributing your own opinions.


"What is the ultimate effect of music-listening while studying on grades?"

An Argumentative paper uses evidence to convince the reader that your opinion is correct about a debatable topic. You will take a stand on an issue, then use evidence to back-up your statement.


“Listening to music while studying is in fact a beneficial activity to add to a study regime for better grades because of the way music motivates students and keeps them alert"

Types of Research Papers
what are the steps
What are the steps?
  • Select a topic
  • Formulate a thesis statement (What is your question about the topic? What will you prove?)
  • Conduct Research
  • Answer your question by connecting your findings to what you already know
how to select a topic
How to Select a Topic


Has your teacher already given you a topic to research – or even a thesis statement you must defend? If not, you must THINK! Here are a couple ways to look for inspiration:

Freewrite: Set the timer for five minutes and write down everything you can think of in no particular order.

Brainstorm: If you have a broad topic in mind, make a list of everything associated with this topic.

Cluster Diagram: Like brainstorming, but using a web instead.

selecting a topic cont
Selecting a topic cont…

Once you have some ideas, take a moment to think about possible thesis statements. Then think logically – will this work for the assignment?

  • Too broad or too narrow?
  • Will there be enough research?
  • Is your choice a popular choice?

Before we get started: Do Not Even Think of Copying! Check out this website for information on plagiarism.

writing the thesis statement
Writing the Thesis Statement

Defining features of a thesis statement:

  • A thesis statement is a 1-2 sentence summary of what your paper will cover/prove.
  • A thesis statement is to your paper, what a topic sentence is to a paragraph.
  • It is placed at or near the end of the introduction.
  • For an argumentative paper, it could reasonably be argued.
conducting research
Conducting Research

With the thesis statement completed, you now have a focus for your essay. Time to gather material!

  • Brainstorm what sources could be used with your topic: Books, newspapers, magazines, video/audio, interviews, and the list goes on.
  • Where can you go to gather these sources: The school library, the public library, a local college library, the Internet
  • When can you gather sources: During class time, before homeroom, study halls and lunches, after school, at home
  • Who can Assist you with Finding Materials: ANY teacher, librarians, Computer Lab Aide, parents, friends
how to use the library
How to use the library

Your first step in finding research is to locate book sources that have information on your topic

  • To look for books, use the catalog. A subject search will be your best bet. Type in keywords – if you are unsuccessful at first, try different (combinations) of words, or ask a librarian for guidance.
  • Write down the call numbers of the book, then locate it on the shelf. If the book has a bibliography, you can use this for additional source material. If the book cannot be checked out, do a source card for it, then copy the material you need.
what about videos and tapes
What about videos and tapes?

While you are in the library looking for books, check for miscellaneous sources that may aide you in your search. Some ideas include:

  • Videos & DVDs
  • Audio Tapes & CDs
  • CD-Roms
after you find books
AFTER you find books…

Next, try looking for articles that have been written about your subject.

  • The school library has online databases with all kinds of newspaper, magazine, and periodical articles. You must have the password sheets in order to log-in. There is a separate sheet for both school and home.
  • When you find an article that seems like it has important information, ask for help with printing. There are special rules and guidelines that must be followed.
and last

Now you can search the Internet.

  • Please remember that the Internet is not referred to as the “WORLD WIDE WEB” for nothing. Internet sites are not regulated. Anyone can create a site about anything – that means that some of the information you find, may not be accurate. Website Evaluation Sheet
  • 2. Once you find a reputable source, create a source card for it, and ask for assistance with printing.
the source card
The Source Card
  • You must use a 4X6 or a 5X7 index card.
  • You can call it a source card or a bibliography card.
  • You can use letters or numbers. If possible, label your source with the same letter or number you put on the source card.
  • You must put your name in the bottom right hand corner.
  • You must start on the far left and write completely across the page, then indent each of the following lines.
  • Make sure to use appropriate punctuation.
sample source cards
Sample Source Cards

You will have to cite the sources of information you use within your paper, and you must create a works cited. Here’s how to do a source card:

Keep in mind, you MUST use pgs. 3-13 in your MLA book, or the back of the password sheet, to understand how to do this!!

i have my sources what do i do with them
I have my sources, what do I do with them?

Next you need to take notes. This means you will need to READ the materials you collected, and create note cards. Here is how to complete a note card:

  • Use 3X5 index cards, put your name in the lower right hand corner.
  • Only one piece of information per card – no paragraphs.
  • Each card needs to have a slug, or topic.
  • All information must either be in quotation marks or must be paraphrased (or written in your own words).
  • Give the source number or letter from which the info comes.
  • Put your name in the lower right hand corner of each card, and number them in the lower left hand corner.
thinking about the paper
Thinking about the paper

Once you have completed all of your note cards, you must draft an outline. Outlines are a list of how your paper will be organized.

You Should:

  • Outlines must be typed
  • Decide which note cards you will use for your paper and group them by paragraph (which paragraph are you using them in? – you can label them with the Main Topic Numeral from your outline if you desire).
  • Title the outline.
  • Main ideas are chief points. Label them with Roman numerals (I, II, III).
  • Subtopics of main ideas are labeled using capital letters (A, B, C).
  • Details for subtopics are labeled with numbers (1, 2, 3).
  • Follow rules for indenting - see sample on next slide.
sample outline
Sample Outline

Title of Outline

I. Main Topic

A. Important subtopic

B. Important subtopic

1. Detail

a. Sub-detail

b. Sub-detail

c. Sub-detail

2. Detail

3. Detail

a. Sub-detail

II. Main Topic

See MLA book pg. 28 for sample and instruction for heading.

Click here to see sample outline for Shakespeare

writing the rough draft
Writing the Rough Draft


  • Your paper should be typed, double-spaced (format, font, line spacing = double), with 1” margins (file, page set-up, margins = change right and left from 1.25” to 1”).
  • Only use Times New Roman or Arial font size 12. Do not bold anything, only underline book titles (poems and short stories go in quotes).
  • Put your last name and page number in the top right hand corner(view, header and footer, align right from main toolbar, type last name, space, choose the # sign from the header toolbar, close)
  • Your paper should be an organized paper with an Intro, body paragraphs and conclusion.
sample rough draft format
Sample Rough Draft Format

Smith 1

Your name

Teacher’s name




Begin Paper………See MLA book pg. 29 for


adding internal citations
Adding Internal Citations

Remember to include parenthetical, or internal, citations when you use information from your note cards. Citations go in parenthesis at the end of your sentence, but before the end punctuation. See your MLA handbook pg. 14-21 more info.

The most common ways to cite your source:

  • Cite the author’s last name and the page number where you found the information =(Smith 2).
  • Use the author’s last name in your sentence, and give the page number at the end of the sentence = Edgar Wolf says, “…” (48).
  • For Anonymous works, use the title and page or paragraph number = (Inherit the Wind 5).
and finally the works cited page
And Finally: The Works Cited Page

This is where your source cards come into play. If your source cards are done correctly, you will be able to transfer the information directly to the works cited. See your MLA book pg. 35 for sample.

  • Skip down five lines after the end of your paper and center the title: Works Cited Do not bold, underline or make this any bigger!!!
  • Only list the works that you have actually cited in your paper.
  • List them in alphabetical order.
  • Indent each line after the first in an entry (5 spaces).
  • Double-space the works cited, but do not include any additional spacing between entries.
  • Do not bold, number or letter the entries.
edit the rough draft
Edit the Rough Draft
  • Once you have typed up your initial copy of the paper, make sure to give it a read through. In fact, reading aloud will help you detect errors you might miss by reading it silently. Have your parents, friends or a teacher take a look as well.
  • If you are missing any information, you may have to go back to your sources, or even find more sources. Add your new info, then edit again
turning in your paper
Turning in Your Paper

Phew! You’re almost done.

  • Do a cover page for your paper. Place the title in the center of the page, TNR font size 28. Put your heading in the lower right hand corner, TNR font size 12. Staple your cover page to your paper.
  • Place the following in a folder to be handed in: ALL: printed materials, source cards, note cards, outline, rough draft and final draft. Missing any of these items will result in a reduction of points.
  • Initial and date the sign-in sheet. That’s It!!!