- Step 1 - Picking a Topic [Sample] [Back to Steps List] Make sure your topic is one which has plenty of sources. A source is a piece of information about your topic and can include:
- encyclopedias or other reference books
- Internet sites
- personal interviews
- magazine articles
- Step 2 - Asking Questions [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
To do a research project, you need to figure out what is important to know. To do this, you should come up with a list of questions to try to answer. The amount of questions you should list depends on how long your research project is expected to be. The more information you need to know, the more questions you need to ask.
Remember this just gives you a starting point for doing research. As you search to answer the questions, you can add information you weren't looking for originally to add to your report.
[5th Grade States Questions] [5th Grade Presidents Questions]
- Step 3 - Creating Notecards [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
Once you have created a list of questions, you should then take a stack of notecards and place one question on a notecard. Remember to always have a few extra notecards once you begin searching for information so that you can either write down extra questions that you think of, or to write down information that you find is extra that
your questions didn't cover.
- Step 4 - Citing Your Sources [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
Now it is time to begin answering the questions you put on each note card. When you find the answer to a question, the first thing to do is to write on the back of the notecard all of the bibliographic information you will need. A list of how to cite a source is found HERE. You do not need to place the whole bibliographic information on each notecard unless it is a new source. In other words, the first time you use a book, put all the information on that card, but if another question is answered using the same source, just put an abbreviation to show it was found from the same source.
How to do a Bibliography.
- Step 5 - Answering Questions [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
After you have put the source bibliographic information on the back of a notecard, answer the question in a COMPLETE sentence or sentences on the front of the notecard. (It is very important later that this be done in a complete sentence now.) This answer should not be just copied directly from the source, but should be paraphrased.
[5th Grade States Information] [5th Grade Presidents Information]
- Step 6 - Creating Categories (Sub-Topics) [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
When you are finished with all your notecards (this could take quite a long time gathering the information), you should then take out a piece of paper and list sub-topics that your information can be sorted into. For example if you were doing a research project on a state of the United States, you could list categories such as "geography", "history", "economics", "government", and "points of interest". You can always add categories to fit a note card that doesn't fit in with your original sub-topic list.
- Step 7 - Sorting the Notecards [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
After you have created your categories, cut them out and place them on a desktop or table. Take your stack of notecards in your hands and look at the top notecard. After reading the information, decide which category this notecard would best go in. Place that notecard next to that category slip. Go on to the next notecard and place that in a category.
Keep going until all notecards have been placed in piles next to each category slip. As said before, if a notecard doesn't seem to have a category, you may create another category (sub-topic) to fit a notecard as you go along.
When you are done, put an abbreviation or symbol on each notecard in a stack to show that it belongs in a category. This needs to be done so that if the cards get accidently mixed you can get them together again. It might also be a good idea at this point to rubberband your notecards together in their stacks.
- Step 8 - Ordering the Notecards [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
Now that you have notecards sorted into category stacks, take one stack and unband it. Spread out the stack of notecards on a desktop or table. Looking at the notecards, decide which card would best be presented first. The rule of thumb is, go from "general" information to "specific" information. Once you decide on a first card, next to your abbreviation or symbol for that category on the notecard, put a 1 next to it. On the next card, put a 2 on it and so forth until all the cards in the stack have been numbered.
When you have finished the first stack of cards, do the same for the next stack until all your stacks have been ordered and numbered.
- Step 9 - Creating a "First Draft" [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
Now comes the easy part for all your hard work, creating the "First Draft". Decide which stack or category you think would best be presented first in your "Research Paper". Take that stack and unband it. Using paragraph form, indent the first line and copy down the 1st notecard answer on the paper. Then go to the next card and copy the answer down. (This will be easy IF you wrote your answers in complete sentences.)
Once you have a stack finished, begin a new paragraph and start copying down the notecards from the next stack. When you are done you will have one paragraph for each sub-topic or category you created.
- Step 10 - Blending Your "First Draft" [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
When you go back and reread your "First Draft", you will probably find that some of it doesn't sound well. So what you need to do is to blend the sentences together by rewriting them so that each sentence naturally flows into the next and makes sense together. This can be done with transition phrases such as "First...this happened", "Then...this happened", "Next...this happened." or other types of transitions between sentences. Some sentences can be combined into one sentence or broken apart into two sentences to be more clear or flow better. You may change words or add words to make your report make sense. Remember you are writing for someone else to read and understand.
- Step 11 - Creating an Introduction [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
Introductions get your reader interested in what you have to say. There are a lot of different types of introductions you can write:
- You can ask a question you plan on answering in the paper.
- You can write a description or scene to catch the attention of the reader.
- You can write an overview of what you plan on discussing in your paper.
Any of these methods should make your reader want to read about what you have found out in your research.
- Step 12 - Writing a Conclusion [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
A conclusion ties up what you have found up in an interesting way. Writing a good conclusion can be tough, but it should restate some important points you have found out in your research in the way of a summary. It can also include some personal feelings about how you felt about doing the research and what you've learned.
- Step 13 - Presenting a Final Product [Sample] [Back to Steps List]
There are many different ways you may present your research information. You may write a report, create a display, or even make a web site that will present your information. No matter how you choose to present your research, you need to make sure all of the writing is neatly written or typed, edited for proper spelling and grammar, and presented clearly so others can understand it easily.
To view a fully completed Web based Research Report, click Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I Flying Ace.