History/English 8 Collaborative Research Paper/Project (Student Examples)

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to introduce students to the process of writing a research paper. For many, this will serve as an introduction to a project of this kind. Therefore, students will receive plenty of guidance and support in both their American History and English classes. (1)

The Final Product: Working in pairs, students will use a wiki to showcase a research paper that they have written together. The online component of the research paper will allow students to take advantage of multi-media sources that will support their thesis. (Ideally, each pair will use Google Docs to write the paper.) The bulk of the wiki should, of course, consist of the text of the research paper, but hyperlinks to sources, images, or other related material should be included. Certainly images should be included on the wiki, but students should be sure to select images wisely and carefully. Each pair of students will write a 5-6 page research paper on a topic in American history (We will provide a list of possible topics, but students are certainly welcome to come up with their own. All topics must be approved by the teachers.) The paper will include a thesis statement, proper citations, and a bibliography. Boys will be required to use a range of sources in their research including books, websites, and periodicals.

The Process:
Step 1--Topic: Students will identify their topics. We will provide a list of topics from which to choose. In some cases, partners may pursue a topic of their choice with the consent of the teachers.

Step 2--Preliminary Research: Student will then begin researching their topics. Proper labeling and note-taking skills will be reviewed in class. Other potential methods for taking notes will be given consideration. We will also discuss what makes a source credible and reliable.

Step 3--Thesis: Once each pair has learned a bit about its topic, the students will be ready to formulate their thesis. This process will also be discussed in class.

Step 4-Specific Research: Once a thesis has been approved by the teachers, the students will continue their research in a more focused and specific manner.

Step 5--Outline: Once the research is complete or nearly complete, each pair of students will produce an outline that will reflect the overall organization of the essay. Again, class time will be used to explain the proper format.

Step 6--Bibliography: Make sure that you keep track of all your sources as you conduct your research. All entries in this "working bibliography" should be entered in standard bibliographic format. To find the appropriate format, you can refer to your copy of Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, or you can find an acceptable online source. Another possible resource is Write Source MLA Style. Make sure that you are consistent.

Step 7--First Draft: When the outline has been approved by the teachers, the students may begin to write the first draft of their essay. The teachers will then comment extensively on that draft and allow time for meetings to discuss the paper. Please note that the largest single grade in this project is given to the first draft since that is what truly represents the students’ efforts.

Step 8--Final Draft: The final draft is graded based on the quality of the revision.

Step 9--Presentation: Each pair will prepare a presentation that will convey to an audience of peers and teachers what the students learned in the course of their research. The audience should understand what the thesis was and how it was supported.

Both members of a pair will receive the same grade for the project, unless there are unusual circumstances or it is abundantly clear that one student is responsible for the bulk of the work. Individual students will have the opportunity to evaluate their partners' contributions, as long as they explain their reasoning; teachers will take those grades into consideration for an additional participation grade worth 20 points.

Note Check 1: 10 points
Note Check 2: 10 points
Thesis Statement: 10 points
Outline: 20 points
Bibliography: 20 points
First Draft: 100 points
Final Draft: 50 points
Wiki: 20 points
Participation: 20 points
Presentation: 20 points

Due Dates:


Topics will be chosen before December vacation. Some may choose to do research over the vacation, but it is not necessary.

Nov 12: Topics chosen (1st Term)
Nov 18: 1st note check (1st Term)
Dec 3: 2nd note check (1st Term)
Jan 7: Working Thesis (2nd Term)
Jan 12: 1-page outline (2nd Term)
Jan 22: Bibliography (2nd Term)
Jan 26: First draft (2nd Term)


Feb 20: All final drafts handed in (2nd Term)
March 10-13: Presentations (2nd Term)


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