Research Style Guide
Prepared by:
Michele Farquharson
Vancouver School Board
Thanks to Vancouver Teacher-librarians: Karen
Cordiner, Valerie Dare, Val Hamilton, Peggy
Lasser, Pat Parungao, and Colleen Tsoukalas
This Research Guide reflects the changing needs of
our students. It supports students’ use of several
types of resources so that they may become familiar
with the wealth of information available. Critical
thinking is fostered by exploring differing points of
view that the project may bring to light. Using
Webcat students are directed to VSB’s online
catalogue which includes: print materials,
databases, online reference materials, links to
websites, ebooks, and other materials.
As students become more computer
literate, resources or tools that are
online may be more user friendly.
This is not to suggest that all research or
projects should be completed with
computers. Indeed, we must consider
student learning styles when designing units
of study. Students who are kinesthetic
learners may need the process of physically
writing, to assist with their learning. Many
reading strategies incorporate the use of
drawing, for example; split images; listen,
draw and draft; and mind mapping.
Becoming Information Literate
The Research Quest
These are the steps that can be
followed in completing a
research project. Although
intended to be followed in this
order, the steps, particularly
“Work with the Information”
and “Focus”, can be
interchanged. Some learning
styles require students to “Work
with the Information” (read,
view, listen) in order to “Focus”.
Why notetaking?
With the ease with which students can copy and paste to
documents, it is crucial that we teach them how to
avoid plagiarism.
Cybersmart school offers lessons from K – 8 on
technology topics such as: Safety, Research and
Manners. Manners includes discussion of plagiarism
and Fair use along with student activity pages.
For older grades Purdue is one site that give suggestions
and practises for avoiding plagiarism.
Try a plagiarism tutorial from:
Plagiarism game
The best way to avoid plagiarism is teaching
students how to take good notes and how to
paraphrase. An internet search will lead you
to many good exercises to teach this skill.
Students must also learn how to cite their
sources. Citation Machine and NoodleTools are
bibliography makers that are easy to use.
The Research Quest Model
(Explaining the steps)
First the research topic is identified, (Focus) then
subtopics can be generated by: making an outline,
brainstorming, preparing a web, or (Find and
Later, notes are written to support the subtopics.
(Working with the information). When the final
project is completed students Communicate the
information, which can take a variety of forms.
The final stage requires students to Reflect on
their work.
An alternate way is to take notes first, (Work with
information) group the notes together and generate
headings from the notes (Focus). A sample of this
lesson can be found at the end of these slides
Some students find it helpful to generate questions
about the topic, group the questions together, think
of a word or phrase to describe the questions and
from those words or phrases, form an outline.
At times a topic is assigned to the student;
students do not have to narrow or broaden their topic.
 At other times the student is given a choice of topics.
Depending on the appropriate information (e.g. amount,
readability) found during the “Find and Filter” stage,
students may need to refocus.
Search tools to broaden or refine
Students can also generate an outline just by brainstorming
their topic or making a web (see sections below).
An outline reflects logical thinking and clear
classification. An outline can be:
- A logical, general description
- A schematic summary (a drawing or flow chart)
- An organizational pattern
- A visual and conceptual design of your writing
General: Aids in the process of writing.
Helps you organize your ideas
Presents your material in a logical form
Shows the relationships among ideas in your writing
Constructs an ordered overview of your writing
Defines boundaries and groups
At the outset, students need to:
Determine the purpose of the paper.
Determine the audience they are writing for.
Develop the thesis of the paper.
Brainstorm: List all ideas to be includes in their paper.
Organize: Group related ideas together.
Arrange material in subsections from
general to specific or from abstract to
Create main and subheadings
“The basic format for an
outline uses an
alternating series of
numbers and letters,
indented accordingly, to
indicate levels of
Here is an example of
an outline on a paper
about the development
of Japanese theatre:
I. Thesis: Japanese theatre rose from a
popular to elite and then returned to a
popular art form.
II. Early theatrical forms
A. Bugak
B. Sarugaku
“The thesis is stated in the first section,
which is the introduction.
The body follows the introduction, and
breaks down the points the author
wishes to make.
C. Primitive Noh
D. Authors and Audience
III. Noh theatre
A. Authors
B. Props
1. Masks
a. women
b. demons
c. old men
2. Structure of Stage
C. Themes
1. Buddhist influence
2. The supernatural
D. Kyogen interludes
E. Audience
IV. Kabuki
A. Authors
B. Props”
Copied from:
Note that some section have
subdivisions, others do not, depending
on the demands of the paper.
In this outline, II, III, & IV all have similar
structure, but this will not necessarily be
true for all papers. Some may only have
three major sections, others more than
the five given here.
Your conclusion should restate your
thesis, and never introduce new
Key Visual
A good key visual for
elementary is from
Houghton Mifflin. It
illustrates the
need to tie the topic
and conclusion
The Sandwich
Detailed information on types of outlines can be found at
this Wikipedia link (Grade 8 +):
wikipedia outlining
It contains descriptions and examples of:
1 Outlining reports
1.1 Topic and sentence outlines
1.1.1 Topic outlines
1.2 Alphanumeric outlines
1.2.1 Sample alphanumeric outline
1.3 Decimal outlines
1.3.1 Sample decimal outline
2 Outlining stories
2.1 Location outlines
2.2 Plot outlines
“Webbing is a way of
showing relationships
among ideas, concepts
or events in a visual
form. As students work
through this process an
organizing template or
outline is produced.”
webbing 1
webbing 2
“Brainstorming is a large or small group activity
which encourages children to focus on a topic and
contribute to the free flow of ideas. … By
expressing ideas and listening to what others say,
students adjust their previous knowledge or
understanding, accommodate new information and
increase their levels of awareness. …
This process is also used individually to encourage
students to record their ideas and later organize
them in a way that links their thoughts together.”
To locate different types of resources, students need to
be able to use the VSB Horizon catalogue, Webcat.
Online Catalogue Help from Prince of Wales Secondary
Prince of Wales Library
As part of the Webcat catalogue, students need to be taught
how to use the online databases as each database
serves a particular need.
Remote access:
Worldbook online - Username: vsbstudent
Password: vsbstudent
All other databases: username: 39XX
Password: library
login: library
Educational internet sites are also directly linked from the
Website Evaluation
Not all websites are valid. (See Internet Hoaxes – Male
pregnancy, Tree Octopus…)
Tree Octopus
Evaluate websites using QUICK: The Quality Information
Checklist at: Quick
PW web evaluation
Other strategies for evaluating Web sites.
Taking relevant, complete and well-organized
notes and analyzing the information is the major
part of this step.
It is this step where students discover that the topic they have
chosen can be too narrow or too broad and a refocus is necessary.
To locate needed information have students complete the
Survey – table of contents, index, headings, and chapter titles to
locate subjects relating to the topic.
Skim the chosen article/pages.
Read headings, subheadings and chapter titles.
Look at key visuals – e.g., pictures, maps, graphic organizers
Read opening paragraph of appropriate sections
Read final paragraph summary
Read materials under headings such as: “A Review”, “Conclusion”,
“In Short”.
Review - scan materials for key words, numbers and dates
Points to remember when taking
Brief and relevant (no sentences)
Use only key words and phrases (do not use
the, a, an...)
do not copy “word for word”
record bibliographic information as you use a
Alternative to Writing
Notes In An Outline:
After students locate relevant information in a
resource, students write key words on post-it notes.
Later these notes are organized under appropriate
headings. This ensures long passages are not copied.
Many teacher use highlighters and photocopied
passages to teach and model note taking. Overhead
or LCD projectors are used to demonstrate
highlighting of key words. Passages written out on
chart paper can be used with precut pieces of
cellophane for primary classes. Use powerpoint and
use the pen option.
The following link suggests ways note taking can be
done on computer.
Note taking templates
 What is the big question that you wonder about your
Author: ___________
Six different ways to take notes:
Gladstone notetaking
 point or dash form
 web diagram
 outlines
 study guide
 two column notes
 graph, map, chart, graphic
organizer, or illustration
After notes have been collected, students will compose
opening sentences for each heading. An opening
sentence is a general sentence that tells what the rest of
the paragraph is going to be about This is a difficult task
for primary students but should be introduced in these
grades. By grade 4 the IRP lists:
C2 - write a variety of clear informational writing for
a range of purposes and audiences, featuring
– clearly developed ideas by using clear, focused,
useful, and interesting details and explanations
Elements of a good report can
title page
table of contents
body (of paragraphs)
key visuals
works cited/references
Table of Contents
An introduction explains, or gives an
overview of the project. The paragraph
should include the thesis statement (opinion
or view) that the rest of the report will be
Powerpoint (secondary) on what to include
in an introduction:
Writing introductions
Body (of paragraphs)
The report will be evaluated based on the content and
original ideas as well as the mechanics of writing.
Many teachers use C.O.P.S. when marking written
work. This includes:
C = Complex sentences
O = Opening sentences are included
P = Punctuation
S = Spelling
Include page 21 from previous handout.
5 paragraph essay(Good explanation of how to write a
5 paragraph essay.)
Graphic Organizers
(Key visuals)
Essentially, a graphic organizer is visual way of organizing
information. It shows not only the content of a text but also
the structure of that information. Visual learners and ESL
students benefit from using these devices as they show how
information is related. For instance, a pyramid showing a
food chain is a graphic organizer since it shows the
relationship between a predator, its prey and the
Key Visuals &
Graphic Organizers
The site below describes key visuals and provides blank
diagrams such as time lines and flow charts that you can
download and fill in. Graphic Organizers
Refer to the Knowledge Framework for more information.
Samples of all specific graphic organizers are available through
a Google search.
Other good examples can be found in:
– Parks, Sandra and Howard Black. Organizing thinking.
Pacific Grove, CA: Critical thinking Press & software, 1990.
Online timelines:
– Timeline maker - 5 entries
– Timeline maker 2
Sites for students to use
Simple Wikipedia
This site is written at a Grade 4/5 level and is intended for
ESL students. Students can translate back and forth to
other languages. Currently there are thirteen languages
Wiki junior books
The aim of this project is to produce a series of full-color
booklets for children aged 8 to 11. Some current titles
include: The Solar System, Dinosaurs and Ancient
Writing conclusions
Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay
to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing
left to say after having written the paper. Some
writers find it easier to write the conclusion at the
beginning of the writing process. A writer needs to
keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a
reader remembers best. The conclusion should be
the best part of the paper
 A conclusion should
stress the importance of the thesis statement,
give the essay a sense of completeness, and
leave a final impression on the reader.
Works cited/References
Online bibliography
NoodleTools Chose
Citation machine
Two ways for students to communicate
their research paper with others are an
oral presentation or a powerpoint.
 A rubric for oral presentations:
Oral presentations
A rubric for PowerPoint presentations:
A good Tutorial for teaching powerpoints is:
Powerpoint tutorial
The student completes the
writing process by considering
whether the task was
successful, whether the
process was effective, and/or
if there are any changes that
they would make to improve
further research tasks.
Marsville – lesson plan
Objective: Students will be able to organize
notes in a way that will formulate an outline.
Materials: Several books, encyclopedias, articles about Mars for each
table group, large strips of paper, masking tape,
different coloured felt pens for each table.
Procedure: Assign the following duties to a member of each table
group – fact finder, fact writer, taper, note puter-upper, duplicate takerdowner, resource exchanger.
Review what a note is. Model all the steps that will be completed in the
table group. Elaborate on the role of the duplicate taker-downer,
stressing scanning. Teacher will give 2 minute warning before time and
any table groups with duplicate notes up, have points deducted. The
winning table will have the most facts up (all one colour).
Teacher goes through notes
and groups similar ideas
together. Have students
generate a heading for the
types of notes listed.
This outline is recorded and
used for research on
planets. This procedure can
be used for many “generic”
topics. (Countries, animals,
This presentation was designed to be
added to and expanded upon.
We hope you will add your own
slides or email suggestions/
websites to either Pat or
Michele so that we keep a
master copy and revise it at a
later date.
Thank you for all your expertise.

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