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Writing for the Future students are required to complete a project highlighting the Research Process. We call this project the Paper Trail. Students will learn to use effective methods and techniques of information gathering and evaluation.
Last Updated: Mar 8, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What Exactly IS Research?

Research is:

  • Driven by a question or problem that then guides the process
  • Seeking information with a clear goal in mind
  • A process, which works best when done step- by-step. The steps may need to be repeated, as the process is reiterative
  • Collection and interpretation of data in an attempt to resolve the problem or answer the question
  • Going beyond facts and old ideas
  • Taking a new look at the information and taking a stand

Research is not:

  • Copying and pasting information you find through a Google search
  • Combining a paragraph from one article with a couple of paragraphs from websites. That's plagiarism.
  • Writing a "report"
  • Rearranging facts
  • Rewording each phrase and citing each source. That's just a summary of facts with someone else's name on them and still can be classified as plagiarism.

Words for the wise student:

Netcaster. David Douglas Duncan, Mexico, 1937. Photography Collection.

  • Remember, begin with a "wide net" in your search and then narrow your search results from there. You will generally find more information than with a very narrow search.
  • Don't wear "blinders" as you look for information on your topic. If you only look for specific information to answer a specific question, you may miss many opportunities to broaden your understanding of your topic.
  • Allow for surprises- you may find your views on your topic will change and take you in an entirely new direction.
  • Remember that research is searching again and again (re - search).
  • In the process of doing research, you will be looking at information that others have looked at before, trying to see something that they have not seen.

[Special thanks to Nancy Florio for permission to adapt her research guide]



Students will:

  1. plan strategies to guide inquiry
  2. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media,
  3. will evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks, and
  4. learn to practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.


Week One-Week Two

  • Plagiarism
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.
  • Using Encyclopedias
  • Choose a Topic
  • Concept Maps
  • Developing a Research Question
  • Power Searching Techniques
  • Preparing your Search Strategy

Week Three

  • Library Catalog: Destiny - Searching and Resource Lists
  • Book Evaluation
  • Writing Citations and Annotations for Book Sources
  • How to Format Citations in Microsoft Word

Week Four

  • Scholarly vs Popular Periodicals
  • Periodical Evaluation
  • Online Databases
  • Online Periodicals - SIRS Researcher
  • Periodical Evaluation
  • Writing Citations and Annotations for Periodical Sources

Week Five

  • Website Evaluation
  • Search Engines
  • Power Searching/Google
  • Writing Citations and Annotations for Internet Sources

Week Six

  • Finishing Up
  • Putting it all Together

Students are expected to follow the rules, make up any missed class work (due to lessons, absence, etc.), and to use class time effectively. Doing so will allow us to have an interactive and productive learning environment. We will explore the latest technology and have a hands-on experience.

At the end of this project you will have created a personal research handbook. In this binder you will be able to store your resume and certificates, exemplars of your best work, and assorted technology guides. You will use this binder for the next four years of high school; some students have chosen to take their binder off to college with them.


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