Research and Writing Aids



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Research and Writing Aids

Essential Information for Researching

  1. Begin with secondary sources and then move on to primary sources.
  2. Take careful notes. Write down where the information came from – it is important to cite your sources as you use them!
  3. Be selective of your information. Decide what is important as you research.
  4. Evaluate your sources. Compare many different sources for consistency.
  5. Explain the information you find.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Historians try to find as much information as possible about a topic. They divide their research into two categories: Primary and Secondary.

Primary sources are materials that were created at the time the event occurred or materials created by those who lived through the event. These materials include letters, speeches, diaries, newspaper articles, documents, photographs, and objects from the time period. Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. They are a second-hand account of an historical event. Books, magazines, and websites can all be secondary sources.

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is required for all categories. Every single source that was looked at does not have to be listed, but make sure to list sources that were used in the entry or made an impact on the entry. Remember that interviews and visual materials (i.e., video or photo) count as sources, too. Each annotation must be no more than two or three sentences.


After researching and becoming knowledgeable about a topic, it is time to develop a thesis. A thesis is a statement that presents an argument or interpretation of a topic to an audience. A thesis should define a topic, express an opinion, and evaluate the topic.

 Process Paper

A process paper is a description of no more than 500 words explaining how you conducted your research and created and developed your entry. All categories must include a process paper with their entry. For websites, the process paper should be included in the website. The process paper should include the following five main points:

  1. How did you choose your topic and how does it relate to the annual theme?
  2. How did you conduct your research?
  3. How did you create your project?
  4. What is your historical argument? (New)
  5. In what ways is your topic significant in history? (New)



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