Writing the Research Paper Rough Draft: Getting Specific

Once you've taken all notes from your Internet and book sources, you're ready to begin the first draft of your research paper. When you are ready to begin, follow the format of the paper below or click here to download a printable copy of the format. Now, it is time for you to pull your information together (by synthesizing and analyzing) your research in your paper!


  • Research paper rough draft with all sections (typed, double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font).
  • Working bibliography of your sources so far (typed and in correct format)

This research paper must be in narrative (paragraph) form.  There will also be section of the research paper which may include graphs and data from your surveys.

Turning information from your notecards, surveys and interviews into a paper is not easy work.  You should write the research paper in the following sections and format to focus your writing.


The Format

(Your name)
Senior Project Research Paper
(A personalized title)

Essential Question:  Write your essential question here.


Introduction/Source Overview: (section #1)

  • Start with good hook beginning (quick stories, interesting questions, or bold statements often do the trick)
  • Restate essential question and give some background (ie. What made you interested in this essential question?)
  • Provide an overview of all the sources used (List books, articles and real life experiences used in this project)

Thesis: (section #2)

Your thesis paragraph is the most important part of your paper because it is the direct answer to your essential question.  It is also a preview of what you’ll be covering in the rest of your research paper.

  • Start by writing 1-2 sentences that directly answer your essential question.  This will be your thesis statement. 
  • Write a few more sentences that help to explain your thesis statement in more detail. These sentences should also be a preview for the research section (#4).

Research Process: (section #3)

In this section, explain how the research process went for you (finding an essential question, real life experiences, book research, and Internet research).  What went smoothly?  Where were the challenges?  What would you do differently next time?

Research (section #4)

The research section will be your largest section (several paragraphs).  This section will hold all of the information you’ve gather from your books, articles, and other sources (your notecards).  The information in this section should be very organized.  By now, your topic should be broken down into 3-5 smaller sections.  Create at least a paragraph for each of these sections.  Put the sections in an order that makes sense.

Real Life Experience: (Section #5)

This section will include information about all of your Real Life Experiences (RLE’s).  Each Real Life Experience should have a description that contains the following.

1. Introduction – (Who, what, where, and why) Who did you do your experience with?  What do they do?  Where did the experience take place?  Why did you choose this person and place for your research project?

2. The content – (this part varies depending on the experience)




Job Shadows/other

- A list of all interview questions (without the answers)
- Pick 3 or 4 questions that were particularly helpful in answering your essential questions (write the question, then the answer for each).

- A list of all survey questions (without the answers)
- Graphs of at least 3 survey results that were particularly helpful in answering your essential question.

A thorough description of exactly what happened in your job shadow or other experience.

3. Analysis - What did you learn from this Real Life Experience?  What conclusions can you draw?  How did the experience help you answer your essential question? 

Conclusion: (Section #6)

Wrap it all up!  What big conclusions did you come to?  What did you learn from completing this project?  What questions do you still have?  If you could do this project all over again, what would you do differently?


If you’ve completed all of the above sections, congratulate yourself!  The most difficult parts of this project are behind you.  Only 3 tasks stand between you and a diploma!!!

  • You must go through the revision process (which usually ends up being a few drafts).
  • Add a bibliography (click here for bibliography format) and site sources in the paper (particularly in section 4)
  • Finally, create your capstone website and prepare for your presentation.


Good luck!