High School Research Paper Tips
High School Research Paper Tips
Shelbi Wilson (Teacher, Lincoln High School, Riverside, CA) gives expert video advice on: What's the secret to getting started on a high school research paper?; How can I find great sources for my research paper? and more...
What is a "high school-level research paper"?
A high school-level research paper can vary. It depends on your specific environment and your specific level of writing. If you're taking a 9th grade English class you may just be doing "Introduction to Literature" where your research paper just specifically focuses in on basic gathering of knowledge. Your research paper may just be something as basic as having a thesis, supporting points. As we move into research we want students to use either primary or secondary sources. They may find primary sources, which is direct contact or direct information from a central source, or they may go to the computer, use newspapers, other things like that. As we move from a more basic literature or more basic essay, we want to see the students are using quotes, they're citing their resources, and they're able to cite them appropriately at the end of their documentation. But we're still looking for--the most important thing in a research paper is your thesis statement. What are you proving to the reader? Once you've proven that to the reader, as you advance into higher level research or more formal research papers, we're going to look to see that you've brought in resources--primary or secondary resources--to support your thesis. But at no level in high school are you not going to have a basic research paper where you have a thesis: what you are proving to the reader.
What are the various types of high school research papers?
With high school research paper tips, there are various types of research papers. A student may be asked to write a science research paper, maybe write something in biology. They may be asked to write a research paper that deals specifically in physics or chemistry. A student even in mathematics may be asked to research a particular type of geometrical figure or shape. Students may be asked to do something in their elective classes, in their English classes. Especially, research papers are often used to tap into prior knowledge in history, government, and economics. Therefore we use those research paper skills in all levels of the high school environment.
What's the secret to getting started on a high school research paper?
The first thing in starting a research paper is making sure you have a clear understanding of what the subject is. What is the subject? What is your teacher asking you to write on? If you're not clear, or you're looking and you say, "I don't know where to start," go back and ask your teacher, "Specifically, what do you want me to accomplish? What is the subject?" Once you clearly understand the subject, then that's when you have the ability to formulate your thesis: "What am I going to prove about this subject?"
What is a "thesis statement"?
The most important thing in a high-school research paper is to have something that you're going to prove to the reader. And that's your thesis statement: What is it that you want the researcher or the person reading your paper, your audience, to know at the end of your paper? What makes that better than just reciting general information or things that you found off the internet, is that you are using your own passion and your own desire and you're going and you're finding information to support what you already believe. And that's important. A lot of students don't necessarily understand how to formulate their thesis statement. And a thesis can be something as simple as "School is boring." Well, can you prove that to me? And I may have to go and research - there are fifteen students in my classroom that say "School is boring!" Now, I can expand that to say well, Time magazine, or Newsweek, or current research, but the bottom line is that you've taken something you're passionate about, and you've decided to prove it.
What is the secret to formulating a great thesis statement?
When a student or anyone is writing a thesis statement, who wants to be bored? Your teacher or anyone wants to read something that you are passionate about. They want to feel that you had a thesis, something that you wanted to prove and you went after it. So you want to make sure that your thesis statement is something you believe in. The thesis statement should be something that is broad enough that you can find information about, but that you can prove and you can back up with facts. Just having some general ideas for your thesis statement is great, but you can always find someone who agrees or disagrees with your point. Make sure that you can take your thesis and you can back it up with some facts.
Where can I get help on my high school research paper?
Like anything else, if you need help with a research paper, go to someone who has written them before you. Your library is a great resource. If you don't have someone at home, or an older brother or sister, you could talk to a college student, and also you can access college resources. Tutors are on campus. Many colleges have a resource or tutor centre, but you can start right on your own high school campus. If you have a career centre or a counselling centre, there are several people on your campus who are there to help you. There may be peer tutors. If you're in a lower grade, there may be a TA in your class or TAs that are available at your school site who know specifically how to do research papers.
Why is it important to know how to write a high school research paper?
It is important to know how to write a high school research paper because everyone needs to know how to communicate effectively. A person who cannot communicate their ideas effectively, will not be able to provoke change. Remember, the idea behind a research paper or thesis is something that you're proving to your reader. You want me to understand your ideas clearly. Research papers allow a student to understand how to make change, get their ideas across, and communicate effectively. A research paper is a great tool in being able to do that. Also, you might want to write a proposal as part of your job, something very like a research paper. You may want to provoke change. A research paper, and knowing how to have an idea, research it, and effectively communicate it, is a very powerful tool to provoke change in your community, your neighbourhood, and as part of your job.