Annual Research Project
The primary goal of this research project is to prepare our students from Grade 7 -13 for the writing challenges they will face in the higher grades and at college.
As a mandatory unit of study, all students must select an appropriate topic, research it and write a formal research paper that includes a research question, an abstract and citations.
Topics may be chosen from any of the following subjects: art, music, history, geography, math, computer science, English, business studies, economics, science, physics, chemistry, biology, sports science, psychology and French language and culture.
Each student will be individually supervised by a teacher who specializes in their chosen topic. In order for students to become familiar with working with a deadline, there is a strict timetable for completion. Final essays will be subject to a plagiarism check to ensure that the project is entirely the student’s own, original work. Grades 10-13 students are expected to produce 1500 – 2,000 words and Grades 7-9 students, 800 -1000 words.
Students are required to:
- choose a topic that fits into one of the subjects on the approved list.
- observe the regulations as prescribed by GISU.
- meet deadlines.
- acknowledge all sources of information and ideas in an approved academic manner.
It is strongly recommended that students:
- start working early
- think very carefully about the research question for their essay
- plan how, when and where they will find material for their essay
- plan a schedule for both research and essay writing, including extra time for delays and unforeseen problems.
- record sources as their research progresses (rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end)
- have a clear structure for the essay itself before beginning to write
- check and proofread the final version carefully
- make sure that all basic requirements are met (for example, all students should get full marks for the abstract).
Research Papers: Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before and After Your First Draft
- What topics have you chosen for your research and why?
- What do you know now about the topic?
- What do you want to find out?
- Are you aware of any controversies regarding this topic? If so, what are they, and what is your current stand on the issue?
- Have you noticed any areas of disagreement among your sources?
- Did anything surprise you as you gathered information?
- What has been the most interesting aspect of the material you have gathered so far?
- After reviewing your data or sources, what do you see as the latest problems in the field of your topic?
- What do you think are the important facts of the matter?
- What new insight can you contribute?
- Considering all of the previous questions, how would you sum up your current attitude toward your topic in a sentence or two?
- If you decide to use the answer to the previous question as a working thesis for your paper, what information will you have to give your readers to convince them that your stand is a valid one? What questions of theirs will you have to answer? (The answers to these questions will suggest major points for your outline.)
- Which one real question will your paper answer?
- What is your current answer to this question?
- What information do you have to support this?
- What information do you still need to gather?
- Are the introduction, thesis, and conclusion clear and logical? Does the conclusion relate to the introduction?
- Are ideas and paragraphs smoothly and sufficiently developed, or would more data or examples help?
- Do any terms or concepts need an explanation to a lay reader?
- Do any ideas or references seem irrelevant?
- Does the paper make claims for which there is insufficient evidence?
- Does any evidence seem unsound?
- Are potential counterarguments explored and supported without bias?
- Are differing points of view sufficiently acknowledged, explained, and integrated?
- Is bias present in words themselves, e.g. “genetically modified foods”?
- Does the bibliography contain a sufficient number and range of sources?
- Are all listed sources used in the paper?
- Do citations appear correct? Are they formatted in a consistent manner? Would you be able to locate the source from the given information?
Elements of a Successful Research Paper
Writing a successful research paper is not a difficult task. There are no shortcuts to be taken as one sits down to choose a topic, conduct research, determine methodology, organize (and outline) thoughts, form arguments or interpretations, cite sources, write the first draft, and, finally, apply the necessary revisions.
But there’s no need to be anxious with a research paper assignment! With a good understanding of the elements of a successful research paper, the process can be made a whole lot easier and simpler.
A Successful Research Paper is a SMART one
A successful research paper fulfills the objective of increasing reader’s’ knowledge of a given subject. It also accurately, concisely, and comprehensively relays unbiased information on that subject: information that, of course, must include valid evidence to support the premise.
SMART is a good way to remember the fundamentals of research paper writing and to help prepare an author in writing a successful research paper.
- Specific: A research paper should be specific. It should maintain its focus on the given subject of research – answering a specific research question – and not be inconsistent or aimless as to convey information or make claims on other, unrelated topics or subjects.
- Measurable: A research paper must contain specific, proven research, and cites all research sources and related literature.
- Attainable: A research paper must provide a thesis statement, one that answers the research question and contributes to the knowledge of the given subject. It can’t propose to answer a question that doesn’t relate to real life or is not based on an existing body of knowledge.
- Realistic: A research paper is objective and realistic. Should it be made to present interpretations, arguments, or evaluations, then it should do so based on valid evidence from reliable sources.
- Time: A research paper cannot be written without the researcher knowing the limits, timeframes, and focus of the required work. Without the writer / researcher stating the scope and limitations of the research paper, it is likely that the thesis statement will be hampered by an inability to answer the given research question or focus on the given research subject.
Components of a Research Project
It is important for the writer/researcher to pay attention to the essential components of a research paper. While there are no templates for writing, there are standard components to include:
- Title: The title page, with the alignment of the actual title of the paper typically centered.
- Table of contents (with page numbers for each section)
- Introduction: This component provides the context and a situational analysis of the research topic at hand. Ideally, this is also where the research question and hypothesis are stated. It is important to explain why the research subject was chosen, and what the relevance or rationale is for undertaking research on the subject. (This is your opportunity to show your reasons and passion, too!)
- Methodology: This part states and explains the process by which data, results, and evidence are collected, organized, and analyzed. If the methodology of the research paper is based on previous research literature, make sure that such literature is still valid and up-to-date. Research founded on outdated or disapproved material weakens credibility and makes proving something successfully so much more difficult.
- Results and Discussion: This is where you logically follow through from the methodology and findings; with a smooth transition to reporting, analyzing, discussing, and substantiating the results. While research papers are an academic endeavor, it’s important to write in a way that captures and sustains the attention of the reader. This can be done by using several techniques, including: tables / graphs, quotations, illustrations, examples, words of emphasis (“indeed,” “of course,” “truly”), and additional supporting evidence. When using quotations, remember to do so accurately and to cite the source of the quotation in the references section.
- Conclusion: This summarizes the results and major findings. Do not, however, include in the conclusion anything that hasn’t been brought up in the results and discussion components.
- References / Bibliography: This component cites all the references made in the paper to other research studies and sources of information, be it by way of testimony, statistics, direct quotes, and paraphrased information. It is vital that every reference is recorded: doing so adds credibility and discipline to the paper.