How to Teach Research Papers in High School

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Why Research Papers?

The Common Core Writing Standards includes an entire section focusing on research. Knowing where to find information, how to evaluate it and then how to use it to develop a point is a 21st Century Skill that can transfer to college and to many job fields as well. As educators, we have spent many hours collecting research and writing research papers. Our skills are honed. For our students, however, when we introduce it to them in class, it may be the first time they've ever experienced an assignment of this kind. It is important to break the assignment up into smaller steps to help them understand the entire process, as well as to help them learn the skills they need to in order to write successful research papers.

The Steps of Writing a Research Paper

There are several steps in the writing process of a research paper. Writing is one of the last steps. When taking students through the steps of research, make sure to set them up with a timeline of when certain aspects of the project are due. Also, explain to them that some day, when they are to do this on their own, setting up a timeline for themselves is going to be a priceless step!

Steps of Writing a Research Paper:

  1. Where to Find Reliable Sources
  2. Avoiding Plagiarism
  3. Selecting a Topic
  4. Creating Bibliography (Source) Cards
  5. Developing a Thesis
  6. Creating an Outline
  7. Taking Notes
  8. Writing a Research Paper Draft
  9. Revision/Editing

Breaking apart the research paper into these steps helps to establish a structured timeline for students, while also helping them understand what work goes into a research project.

When teaching the research paper, which step is the most difficult?

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