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Research Skills

Through a research project, you learn how to:

  • Manage your time.
  • Distinguish between valid and invalid sources.
  • Take notes.
  • Organize your thoughts.
  • Put ideas into your own words.
  • Make a compelling argument.
  • Think analytically.
  • Cite your sources.
  • Present ideas.
  • Be responsible.


Research is...

Research is a methodical investigation into a subject. 

The purpose is discovery, to check facts, and/or reach new conclusions.  “Methodical” means there’s a method to the madness.  Research requires that you use multiple sources.  You can’t verify facts if you only use one source.  If your paper has a thesis, you will use your research to prove an argument and form a conclusion. 

Research is not:

  • A list of facts.   
  • A book report.  
  • A restatement of events.  
  • An examination of one source.  
  • An opinion piece. 
  • Finding something online, moving the paragraphs around, and changing the words.  That is called plagiarism!

What Is a Research Paper and What Do I Do?

These 10 steps correspond with the Tabs above:

  1. Pre-research.
  2. The Beginning Cycle:  Select and define your topic.  Read background information.  Write some questions about your topic.  Develop a keywords list.
  3. Develop an essential question.
  4. Search, access, and evaluate information from a variety of sources, compiling a list of citations as you go (use Easybib).
  5. Take notes.  Keep them organized using a method.
  6. Finalize a thesis statement.
  7. Make an outline from your notes.
  8. Use the outline to write a rough draft.  Include parenthetical citations.
  9. Use the research checklist to evaluate your product.
  10. Finish the final draft.

Research Process Diagram

Subject Guide

Jennifer Jourdain's picture
Jennifer Jourdain
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-9200 x5125