Research Paper Guidelines

You are to conduct a research paper on a specific event, era, or person in American history from 1945 to the present. The purpose of this project is to develop both your writing and research skills. Critical thinking, personal responsibility, and a strong work ethic will be key to your success on this project.

As a formal research paper, you will be examining the FACTS surrounding your topic. That means your research should support and clearly explain your topic. This is not an opinion piece. See “Mr. Burdick’s Tips for Writing a Research Paper” for further instructions on how to properly write a formal research paper.

Research Paper Specifications

  • Proper grammar and spelling (-1 point for each error, 20 point cap)
  • 3 pages of content, double-spaced
  • 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Title and Works Cited pages

Research Paper Self-Checklist

Check these goals off as you complete them (and show the teacher) to help keep you focused.

  1. Pick a topic 5 pts
  2. Record sources 5 pts
  3. Outline 15 pts
  4. Thesis 5 pts
  5. Peer-Reviewed Rough Draft 10 pts
  6. Final Paper 150 pts

This assignment is a major part of your American History experience – not only being a significant part of your grade, but also as a way of demonstrating your understanding of U.S. history and highlighting your research and writing skills. As always, be very careful that the words you are writing are you own (or properly attributed).

Any attempts to plagiarize, whether intentional or not, will result in an automatic grade of zero on this project.

Before you even begin your research paper, you should consider the following questions. It will be your goal to provide research in your paper that answers these questions.

Who? Where? Why?

Your research paper will begin with an explanation of the aforementioned questions. As stated below, specify the time of the event or person that you have selected to research. Specify where the event took place, and include important locations within the event itself. Who is this person or who was involved in your event?


What is the important question your research will answer? What happened and what were the details and important facts concerning your topic? This will be the focus of your work, be as complete as you can. What happened and what was the involvement of the person or subject of your research. Give a timeline of events as they took place in your subject outcomes.


How and why did this event happen or why is this person/event significant to the history of the United States? This answer may not always be clear at first. Use your research should support your claims.

Lessons Learned

What lessons did the United States learn from this event or person? What impact did this event or person have on the country or the world?


What conclusions have been reached? Summarize your subject and why your topic was important. This can be used as the conclusion to your paper.