Homework Help for High School Research Papers, Part 1

This article provides help for writing research papers by covering the entire writing process in logical steps and providing a checklist of the essential steps in writing a high school research paper.

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Choosing a Topic

The first step in beginning a research paper is selecting a topic. Often times, teachers provide you with a broad subject that relates to class material. For instance, an English teacher would allow students to write a research paper on a topic related to a novel read in class. Make sure to choose a topic that you are passionate about or find interesting. When you don't care about your topic, it shows in your writing.


Next focus your chosen topic into a thought or idea to base your research paper around. Finding out what other credible sources say about the chosen topic can help you choose a focus. Credible sources have done research of their own and can provide information on your topic. Choosing a focus similar to another person's is not bad or wrong as long as you agree with the focus and create your own material. You should never plagiarize, or borrow ideas from others without giving proper credit.


While searching for a topic, you can also decide on your thesis. The thesis is the idea that your paper discusses or your stance on the chosen topic. Going forward with the research after a thesis is formulated will help you know what information you need in order to support your stance on the topic.


The search for information involves books, encyclopedias, journals, articles and web sources. Remember to correctly keep track of your sources and note where all research information came from.

As your research continues, you must make organized notes about the information you have collected. Create an outline of how the paper should flow and incorporate the information collected. In other words, create the basic structure, or skeleton, of the paper. Then fill in the outline with facts, creating the different parts of the paper. Once you have enough information to support your thesis, you can begin writing.

Connect the Dots

Before sitting down to write, analyze your research and make sure you understand what the information says and more importantly, what it means. As you analyze and organize your data, you may uncover gaps in your research. An extra trip to the library may be in order. Doing this now, as opposed to after you've started writing, can save time and anxiety.

The Importance of a Rough Draft

Now, you're one step away from the finished document. The rough draft is writing while using your thesis and outline as a guide. The rough draft does not have to be the best writing. Feel free, in this initial stage, to give a lot of opinion and little evidence. As you read over your rough draft, think about the audience of your paper, the audiences' prior knowledge of the subject, and the style or tone you are trying to capture. After going over your rough draft, add any necessary information and cite your sources. Don't be ashamed of having more than one rough draft. Many writers need several revisions to polish their work before it is ready to be submitted.


George Mason University, www.gmu.edu, provides a revision checklist to use once you think your paper is complete. This will help you fine tune and perfect your grammar, punctuation, and word usage, as well as answer any questions your teacher may have. The checklist is as follows:

  • Has the audience been kept in mind?
  • Do the paragraphs flow?
  • Have the ideas been adequately developed?

If you can answer all the questions on the checklist, your paper is complete. Be prepared to defend your opinion after you turn the paper in. Questioning your position is one way for teachers to see that you have retained the information from your paper.

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