Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Home: Overview

Library's Homepage

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!

Research Skills

While conducting a research project, you:

  • Manage your time.
  • Distinguish between valid and invalid sources.
  • Take notes.
  • Organize your thoughts.
  • Put ideas in your own words.
  • Make a compelling argument.
  • Put things in perspective.
  • Think analytically.
  • Make an outline.
  • Write with focus.
  • Write properly.
  • Cite your sources.
  • Present ideas.
  • Be responsible.

Subject Guide

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

What Do I Do?

These steps correspond with the Tabs above:

  1. Select and narrow your topic.  
  2. Create a research question. 
  3. Read background information. 
  4. Search, access, and evaluate information from a appropriate sources, compiling a list of citations as you go (use MyBib).
  5. Take notes.  Keep them organized using a method.
  6. Finalize your thesis statement.
  7. Make an outline.
  8. Use the outline to write a rough draft of body paragraphs. Include parenthetical citations.
  9. Use the research checklist to evaluate your product.
  10. Finish the final draft with introduction and conclusion.

Research Process Diagram

What is My Purpose?

Determine the purpose of the assignment. There are basically two types of research papers in high school: 

  • Informative papers ask you to demonstrate what you know.
  • Persuasive papers ask you to defend a point of view.

Informative papers ask you to gather information to define, explain, summarize, describe, and/or illustrate a topic.  Informative papers ask to link ideas together that you develop from your research to inform the reader.  You will think about how things are connected.  You will compare, contrast, cause and/or relate.  You will analyze primary and secondary sources.   Your thesis is the product of this analysis.  Examples of this type of paper:

  • Using historical research, explain a an aspect of the poem, Beowulf, .
  • Why was a specific battle from World War II important?
  • What caused the conditions of migrant workers during the Great Depression?

Persuasive papers ask you to gather information to assess, prove, justify, respond to, support, and/or argue a point of view.   The topic needs to be debatable and/or controversial.   The writer clearly states this argument in a strong thesis statement with the goal of persuading the reader.   You will use data, statistics, facts, and other evidence from primary and secondary sources.  You will interpret this information to support your thesis.  Questions which produce this type of paper:

  • Should colleges accept students based on the principles of affirmative action?
  • Did the United States make the right decision in dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II?
  • Is marijuana medicine?