Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Due to the demand and effort required in this undertaking, I have compiled THREE brilliant posts on how to carry out research at High School. This post focuses on:

  • Defining Research
  • Tense Use In Essays
  • Types of Research Papers
  • Writing Your Research Paper
  • Some More Important Points To Note
  • Checking For Plagiarism

Writing a research paper at high school level involves research and reporting, but you are also building on these skills and adding ANALYSIS to the information. This means that you no longer simply write what happened, but you have to provide a perspective on history through analytical argument.

Defining Research

A research paper analyzes a perspective or argues a point. Regardless of the type of research paper you are writing, your finished research paper should present your own thinking backed up by others’ ideas and information.

pexels-photo-273222.jpegAny research you carry must use relevant and reliable sources for support with information that directly relates to and supports your argument. It must also contain the most recent, updated information from a scholarly, reputable, expert, or objective (unbiased) source.

Tense Use In Essays

Let me point out this from the word go:

  • What tense do you have to employ in your research?

To simplify, tenses are used in the following ways:

THE PRESENT TENSE is used for:

  • a generalization overviews, statements of main points etc.
  • a generally accepted scientific fact, eg: “This thesis investigates the second approach . . . .”
  • a statement made by you as a writer eg: “Non-standard applications are now emerging . . . .”
  • a statement reporting the position of a writer and your support or lack of support for this position eg: “He begins by offering a definition . . . .”

Also, you must use the PRESENT TENSE when you are discussing and writing about literature — literary works are considered to exist in the present.

THE PAST TENSE is used to:

  • report/describe the contents, findings or conclusions of past research.
  • emphasise the specific nature of the “Kendell (2013) located the origins . . . .”


A Research Paper is a scholarly argument supported by facts and analysis. You cannot make a strong, academic argument without supporting your argument with facts. It is thus important for you to become as knowledgeable as possible in your topic.

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgYour Research Paper must be one of the four-listed types:


The topic chosen must be debatable and controversial. It uses persuasive writing to present an opinion. It presents two sides of a controversial issue.

Quite often, the best topic is one that you truly care about, but you also need to be prepared to research it.

You’ll have to back up your claim (whichever side you choose) with lots of evidence and support.

A good argumentative paper will include in-text citations from researchers that present logical facts from both sides of an issue, and will conclude with the author analyzing the pros and cons of each argument.

Some topics to think about:

  1. Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
  2. Is animal testing necessary?
  3. Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
  4. Does social media create isolation?

 ANALYTICAL Research Paper

It analyzes and makes a conclusion about information. The writer’s task is an exercise in exploration and evaluation. It includes information from a range of sources but the focus on this type of research paper is in analyzing the different viewpoints represented from a factual rather than opinionated standpoint.

Your job in writing a critical analysis paper is to:

  1. Summarize: You will use your own words to explain clearly what happened. If it is an event, you will describe the situation, people, and circumstances. Your summary is intended to help your audience understand this subject clearly and thoroughly.
  2. Analyze: Next, you will explain the meaning of this event, text or performance. You will evaluate what happened and discuss whether it is good, bad or both. Is the author convincing? What are the weaknesses?
  3. Respond: Often, a critical analysis assignment requires you to present the summary and analysis objectively. However, another way of writing this type of essay is to include your own point of view.

The author of an analytical paper may focus on the findings, methodology or conclusions of other researchers and will conclude such a paper with a summation of the findings and a suggested framework for further study on the issue.

Some topics to think about:

  1. What is the difference between asteroids and planets?
  2. What is the impact of air pollution?
  3. The Army – Is It For You?
  4. What are the effects of water/noise pollution on human life?


It traces the probable or expected results from a particular action or policy in a logical progression that is easily followed by the reader.

  • Step 1: You need to explain the effects by making appropriate links to the causes. This is where your breakdown of the topic will help you.
  • Step 2: Be sure to only focus on a few points. Too many will overcomplicate everything for your reader.
  • Step 3: Organize your research paper. Begin with your thesis statement. It should state the event, phenomenon, or trend that you want to explore in your paper.

All of the other paragraphs should begin with topic sentences that explore one of the cause and effect aspects. As a conclusion, end your essay by drawing your discussion together neatly.

Some topics to think about:

  1. Effects of professional sport on children.
  2. Uber influence on the taxi drivers.
  3. Telling lies – The cause and effect.
  4. What are the causes and effects of terrorism?


This research paper is about exploring similarities and differences between two subjects, ideas or events.

A COMPARE AND CONTRAST Research Paper requires you to move beyond mere description by thinking deeply about the items being compared, identifying meaningful relationships between them, and deciding which qualities are most significant.

This process involves evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing your findings and presenting them in a meaningful, interesting, and logical way.

This type of research paper is often used in literature courses to compare two different authors, or stories from a particular genre. It could also be on other topics like sports, medicine, etc. Some topics to think about:

  1. Poetry vs. Prose
  2. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona – which club is more influential?
  3. An active student and a passive student.
  4. Two views of your parents: before and after you left home.


The LibraryWriting an OutlineAn outline is a skeletonized version of your paper that lists the main topics and supporting points. It can be written in two styles: topic outline or sentence outline. Choose one format and stick to it.

Remember that . . . .

  • A topic outline lists words or phrases.
  • A sentence outline lists complete sentences.

A topic outline arranges your ideas hierarchically (showing which are main and which are sub-points), in the sequence you want, and shows what you will talk about. As the name implies, it identifies all the little mini-topics that your paper will comprise, and shows how they relate.

A sentence outline does all of this, plus it shows exactly what you will say about each mini-topic. Each sentence, instead of simply identifying a mini-topic, is like a mini-thesis statement about that mini-topic. It expresses the specific and complete idea that that section of the paper will cover as part of proving the overall thesis.


This is a ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY of the paper which must appear in the first paragraph. This will guide your entire paper, so it must be direct, clear, and logical.

It is a clear statement of your position on your topic.

It is not a statement of fact, a how-to, or a definition. It is an idea, opinion, or theory that you will defend and try to convince your reader to agree with.

The heart and soul of the Research Paper is the thesis statement. This is a one sentence statement of your argument. Your thesis is the part of your research paper that connects you to the scholarly conversation. If you do not have a thesis, then you are not writing a Research Paper.


Define key terms and/or offer background information about your research topic. You need to show the reader WHY this is worth of a research. Give the reader ample information on your chosen topic – assume that the reader KNOWS NOTHING about the subject under discussion.


The work of other writers can provide you with information, evidence and ideas, but must be incorporated into your work carefully. Quoting, paraphrasing and summarising are all different ways of including the works of others in your assignments.

Good IdeaTHREE Important words come to mind:

  • Paraphrasing is restating the idea in your own words.  It can be about the same length or even longer than the original passage.
  • Summarizing is restating only the main points of the passage in your own words. It is very brief.
  • Quoting is using the exact words of the author of the passage. It gives the author credit for those words.

Ideas to Get Reader’s Attention in The Body Paragraphs:

  • Begin each paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE stating main idea.
  • Support each topic sentence with at least seven detailed sentences.
  • State and explain hypotheses, and opinions in detailed sentences.
  • Compelling facts or statistics/experts/powerful quotes/rhetorical questions/anecdote.
  • Describe problems or conditions


  • End with a quotation that pulls it all together.
  • Summarize your main ideas (restate your thesis.)
  • Offer a judgment (analytical only).
  • Make a final comment or observation (analytical only).

LENGTHIt depends on school requirements but as a rule of thumb, it can be 3-5 pages typed (excluding the title page, outline and bibliography) which is between 1000 – 2500 words. This is a standard length at High School.

Some More Important Points To Note

Font – use Times New Roman (12) Use black ink
Bibliography or Works Cited page should be numbered with your last name and the final page number. It must be 3-5 pages typed (excluding the title page, outline and bibliography)
It must have a Title page; Outline page; Bibliography or Works Cited page Avoid the use of contractions. This is a formal paper.
Number your pages. It must be double-spaced
Avoid using headers and instead use transition sentences to link the paragraphs together Avoid the use of the 1st or 2nd person voice.  Use the 3rd person and maintain an objective and neutral tone

The topic should be analytical/argumentative/cause and effect/compare and contrast. You must have a thesis statement and be ready to prove something.

Checking For Plagiarism

The most used database to check on plagiarism score is which has multiple applications used for most High School and university research papers. checks for plagiarism off the internet, from other schools, and from other students.


There are some free user-friendly – like, Plagiarism Checker, Plagium or PaperRater – entirely free plagiarism detection tools to check whether content is plagiarized but one has to be extremely careful as once your work has been checked by one, you cannot re-submit for another check. The plagiarism score will go up!

The research done at High School is not as intense as to what you will do at college or university but what we have done and learnt here will put you in good stead.

I hope your research paper this year will reflect thorough knowledge and best effort in your coursework, project or research paper.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!



  1. andrew mutyavaviri says:

    Thts a bit deeper.nd a.little.confusing nd complicated.stuff.wats e difference.btwn a thesis nd dessertation.isnt.there a.thin.line.btwn.e.two

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