NCHS‎ > ‎Media Center‎ > ‎

Writing & Research

What is a Research Project? 
A research project, weather it is a traditional a paper, a video, or 
a multimedia presentation, is the end product of a thinking process 
which involves student-centered questioning.

Research is a life skill. We are always seeking information.  Our ability to use 
information helps  us reach conclusions, make are choices, and communicate 
more effectively.

Where to start? 
The research process and writing process are connected.  Research is of little 
value unless you effectively communicate what you have learned.  The same
 skills that you use to write an explanation paper are used to develop the 
research paper or project. Developing a clear and focused thesis, sketching an 
outline, drafting, revising, peer reviewing, and editing 
are steps which you are
 already familiar with.

Develop a Working Source List 
Gather a list of books, articles, and other sources of information on your topic. 
Even if you are not sure the source will have what you what, keep accurate 
information on every source in case you do need it later.  If you are using 
Web pages, you might want to print out the first page of the document, and 
make sure the URL is printed on the page.

Source Cards 

Keep separate 3X5 cards for every new source. Write on each one the following
1. All of the publication information needed to include the work in your 
  final works cited pages.
2. All of the information on each card in proper MLA form.
3. A code letter to connect your source card to note cards taken from the source.

Taking Notes 
If you prepare your notes properly, you will find it much easier to organize your 
material later and to complete your project. Make clear, on each note card, from 
what source your notes came from and what page.  Also make your notes clear. 
Doing this from the beginning will save time later. 
1. Write your notes on 4x6 index cards
2. Write on one side only
3. On any one card, write notes only on one narrow topic and from one source only.
4. Take notes in your own words as briefly as possible.
5. If you are writing an exact quotation of someone else's words, copy the quotation exactly.  Enclose the quotation in quotation marks.  Also include the name of the person you are quoting and that person's position.

Preparing the List of Works Cited and Works Consulted 

No research is complete without a list of the materials from which you have borrowed ideas, facts, opinions, or quotes.  You created a list of sources when you filled out your source cards.  Now you must create the list to accompany you paper so that a reader can see you sources.

Final Steps to a Finished Draft 
The completed draft of your project should include the following:
1. A title page, containing the title, your signature, your name, the teacher's name,
  the specific class, and the date of submission.
2. Acknowledgments page.
3. The text of the paper.  Number only the pages of the text, beginning with page 2.
4. Works cited
5. Works Consulted
  Note: Include these sections in all projects, multimedia as well as traditional papers!

Steps in Online Searching  
Note: These steps are not necessarily performed in the following exact order. 
You may need to go back to some questions several times.

1. Identify the problem
  a. Can I state my search problem in clear questions?
  b. What type of information do I need?
  c. How much information do I need?
2. Select appropriate databases or search tools
  a. Does the search tool or database cover my subject?
  b. Can I understand the information contained in it?
3. Brainstorm keywords
  a.What are my major concepts?
  b. What synonyms, broader or narrower terms, or related ideas could I use?
4. Subject vs. keyword search/subject directory vs. search engine
  a. Do I have more than one search to complete?
  b. Am I browsing for a topic or looking for a way narrow or broaden a topic?
5. Refine the search online
  a. Are my hits relevant, readable, accessible?
  b. Have I tried different combinations of keywords?
  c.  Is my topic doable?  Should I consider another topic?
6. Evaluate the search offline: examine the printout: ask, "What if?"
  a. How relevant were my results?
  b. Which of the results are  best? 
  c. Are there additional keyword clues in my printout?

Approaching Research Table

Defining your problem and 
Asking the right questions 
What is my thesis or problem? Is it focused enough to address this project? 
Does it interest me?
What information do I need?
What more do I need to find out?
Accessing information 
Where can I find the information I need?
Which are the best possible sources?
Which databases are the best choices? Should I search by topic or key word?
On the Web should I begin with a search engine or subject directory?
Which types of sources will best address my problem? 
Do I need primary sources, journal articles, maps, etc.?
Do I need help in locating resources?
Selecting and evaluating resources? 
How cam I search these sources effectively?
After reading, can I identify better keywords or subject headings to refine 
my electronic search?
Do the resources I found really answer my questions of support my thesis?
Have I examined my sources for currency, relevance, accuracy, credibility, appropriateness and bias?
Does my research meet my teacher's and my own expectations?
How will I credit my sources?
Organization and restructuring 
How much of the information I have collected is truly relevant?
How can I organize this information so that it makes sense to myself and others?
Do I have a strategy for note taking?
Should I construct a visual tool or written outline to help me structure my work.
Have I solved my information problem and answered the related questions?
Do I have enough information?
Communicating the results 
of your research 
Who is the audience?
How can I most effectively share this information with the audience?
Which would be the best format for communicating the results?
What do I need to do this presentation?
Have I included everything I wanted to share?
Have I proof read, edited and truly finished my project to the best of my ability?
Evaluating your work
Am I proud of the product?
Did I meet the guidelines or follow the rubric for the project?
Am I sure I did not plagiarize from any of my sources?
Is this my best work?
Did I search my sources effectively, efficiently and strategically?