Research Paper Checklist
On the younger side of the spectrum, we have three high schoolers from tenth to twelfth grade. They need to improve on their basic research and response papers. The fact that they came from Russia at later ages and that we continue to retain their Russian can work against them at times.
But we work at it. As they begin a new school year, here are my tips, large and small, since some of the most basic points that we naturally have never conveyed… escape them. And so:
Make an outline of your main points and what information they will contain. Use a handwritten outline first. Then type the outline and staple on top of your paper at the very end. Make sure you follow the outline. If you must change it when you start writing the paper, that’s okay, too. But then stick to the outline.
Type your name and date on the first page. You should uses Times New Roman typeface and 12-point size.
Choose a descriptive title for your paper. Center the title and it can be 14-pt. in size. Use initial caps, for instance: The Rise of Trade Unions in the United States. Important words are started with capital letters. Mention this subject (title idea) somewhere in your first, introductory paragraph.
Use a topic sentence for each paragraph. Everything following that must fit under that specific topic. If you change topic, start a new paragraph with a new topic sentence.
You must use an introductory paragraph (intro) and a concluding paragraph (outro) which sums up your paper’s major points. But DON’T say, “In conclusion…” or “To sum up…”! Just do it. Make sure you refer to the title again to wrap it all up.
A period goes after every sentence right next to the last word like this. Not like this . You should space one or two spaces after the period, before the next sentence.Not like this.Okay?
Indent each paragraph 5 spaces. Doublespace (DS) each line.
Use active verbs when possible. Not “A dog is a nice pet”, but “Many families enjoy a dog as a pet.” Avoid whenever possible: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, has, have, had, do, does, did, should, would, could.
Check your spelling. Look up words if you are unsure. Spellcheck does not always help— it might be a real word, just not the right word. Read your paper out loud to see if you have letters switched or a sentence that doesn’t make sense.
Don’t use contractions. DO NOT use contractions in a scholarly research paper.
Check all sentences to make sure you do not repeat. It is not good to repeat. We often repeat. When we repeat, it becomes boring. Do you like when others repeat? Use a different word or set of words. The dictionary or thesaurus proves helpful.
Do not copy sentences from your sources. Even if you switch around the words or add a few of your own, authorities consider it plagiarism (illegal copying). It needs to be totally different.
Ensure that your paper makes sense. Do you explain terms and what you hope to convey? Read and reread it. Would everyone understand your paper? Proofread several times.
Foreign words need to be italicized, for instance: The word bonjour speaks of the hope for a “good day”.
Proper names should be capitalized. Titles without names following do not receive capitalization: President Eisenhower…
or the president. General Washington… or the general.
Any item of information that you would not know from basic information, such as Canada lies to the north of the US, you need to footnote and give credit to the source from whence it was found. Insert footnotes at the bottom of the page. For a draft, you can place them after the sentence (in parentheses), then when typing, place at bottom. Follow the format we give to you.
The word Bibliography is centered, 14-point, and then listed alphabetically by authors. You place this on a new sheet of paper after your last page of the research paper. Space down 3 spaces. Then singlespace (SS) all of the entries, indenting after the first line (almost an upside-down paragraph). Follow our info sheet on how to format these with author’s last name first, etc.
Staple the paper diagonally in the upper lefthand corner.
Do your best work every time. Aim for no errors. You can do this!
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