Organizing and writing a research paper can be a daunting task for children with learning disabilities. The best way to pin all that information down and put it into a form that others can follow is to use an outline. The I-II-III A-B-C outline is a tried-and-true method that works whether your child has to churn out a paragraph, a page or a paper. Here's how to use that outline to write a research paper; see also instructions on how to write a paragraph and an essay.
Time Required: As much as it takes to do it right
- A research paper is just a long essay with more facts. Review the how-to for writing an essay. You will be doing essentially the same thing, just expanding the outline to allow for more material.
- Make an outline similar to the one you used for the essay, but with these changes: Start with the word "Introduction," and put the numbers 1-5 after it. Follow it with as many Roman numerals as you need to cover the points the teacher wants covered in the report. After each Roman numeral, put the letters A, B and C. Under each A, B and C, put the numbers 1-5. At the end, write the word "Conclusion" followed by the numbers 1-5. Don't bother with any sentences yet. See Example 1.
- The Roman numerals represent sections of your report. The alphabet letters represent paragraphs. The numbers under them are the sentences of your paragraph, according to the rules in "How to Write a Paragraph."
- Take a deep breath.
- Next to each Roman numeral, write one of the points you are to cover in your report. Don't worry about writing full sentences right now.
- As you do the research for your paper, write individual facts or observations down on index cards. On each index card, write the Roman numeral that it will fall under on your outline. When you're done with your research, sort the cards into groups by Roman numeral, and put them into a logical order within each group. Clip together any facts that seem to go together, and put a rubber band around each Roman numeral group.
- Now, fill in your outline with sentences. Take the clipped-together cards and write an introductory sentence that says what they have in common next to one of the alphabet letters under the appropriate Roman numeral. Write a sentence for each fact next to the numbers under that letter. You can add more numbers if necessary, but the last sentence should always be a concluding sentence that restates the introductory sentence. See Example 2.
- When you've filled in the alphabet letters for a section, you can write an introductory sentence for that section by the Roman numeral. In some cases, you may not need this at all; in others, a paragraph that offers a conclusion to the previous section and an introduction to the next one may be useful.
- Repeat this for all Roman numerals and all alphabet letters. Add alphabet letters and paragraphs to sections where you have more information. Each section should have at least three paragraphs; each paragraph should have at least five sentences.
- Finally, write sentences next to the numbers under "Introduction" and "Conclusion," using the rules in How to Write an Essay. You will want to cover all the section topics in at least one of these paragraphs, but the other can use a quote, a story, an observation or an interesting fact that doesn't fit anywhere else.
- Write your rough draft. For the introduction, conclusion and each alphabet letter, write the sentences one after another into paragraphs. Add any transitional sentences or paragraphs you've written by the Roman numerals.
- Read your rough draft aloud. Smooth out any rough language. Add transitions where needed. Check for spelling and grammar. Check your assignment to make sure you've covered all the necessary information.
- Write your final draft. And be proud of yourself! You've written a great research paper.
- Remember this rule of writing: Tell them what you're going to say; say it; then tell them what you said. Do this within each paragraph, each section, and for the paper as a whole.
- Be sure to check the teacher's assignment for any instructions on structure and format. Those are usually worth points, and they're the easiest ones to get.
What You Need:
- Index cards for research
- Scratch paper for making an outline and rough draft
- Final paper for writing final draft, if you're not typing it
- Pen, pencil, or word processor