Researching and Writing
the Historical Overview

Student Multigenre Web Projects:
Exploring Local History

Sources | Collecting information | Writing | Organizing  | Integrating borrowed information | Editing & Proofreading | Falcon Skills & Style Handbook |

This document is a brief research paper. It is one of the two main pieces of writing in your project. It is not a place for you to express your opinion. It is a serious paper that shows your ability to use secondary resources in writing. Before you write, you must gather sources. Knowing how to research a topic is another important skill.


  • In addition to your personal interview, three other sources of information are required. You may go beyond these three. These secondary sources are what you use to write this historical overview. The results from your interview do not go in this document.
  • You may not cite your history textbook or an encyclopedia even though you may start there for general background knowledge.
  • Of the first three sources, only one may be a web page. Other appropriate print sources are books, journals (web journals are also fine), historical society documents, or other similar scholarly resources. Ask your teacher if you are in doubt about the credibility of a source. Popular magazines are generally not good resources. Make sure any web site you use is credible (.com sites are generally not credible).
  • As you find credible sources, it is important to document them right away, so that later, your annotated bibliography will be very easy to do. You need to record all the pertinent information to be used in your annotated bibliography. There is a space on your dialectic notes form to make the source citation. Check your MLA guide for exactly how to cite a specific type of source.
  • Great site for research: Voice of the Shuttle

Collecting information

  • Taking notes from your sources is a must. How you and your partner decide to do that is up to you. (SFHS students will be using dialectic notes form). You must be precise when you quote information directly (quotations need to be transcribed word for word) Put quotation marks around passages you take word for word to remind you that they are quotations. When you paraphrase or summarize, you must document that information, too. Copy and paste the dialectic notes form into Word. You need a separate sheet for each source.

  • Learn how to integrate the information from your sources into the text of your historical overview.

  • Avoiding plagiarism should be of primary concern to you. NEVER copy and paste without citing the source.

Using the P.A.S.T.E. system to collect data

The P.A.S.T.E. system will help you connect your research topic to five key historical and social markers: politics, arts/entertainment, society, technology, and the economy. Using it as a research tool will help you do a complete search for information by finding three connecting points for each of the five P.A.S.T.E. points.

Please see the link below for getting your P.A.S.T.E. organizer or get it from your teacher.

Writing the Historical overview

This section of your multigenre project is like a traditional research paper and it shows your reader that you are able to find and use credible sources of information to develop a subject in writing. Because it is one of the keystones of your project, it will be of significant length. It should also be scholarly in tone. It is also to be written in third person only.

While less creative than some of your other pieces of writing in this project, this genre will also require your best mental effort. The research process requires you to stay focused on your subject as you look for materials and to maintain an organized and effective record keeping (note taking) system as you transfer the information into usable pieces.

Writing this piece is almost like assembling a puzzle. The difference between assembling this puzzle and a typical jigsaw puzzle is that the idea for the end result is in your head and not on the top of the box. And the idea about what the end result will be may change as you write.

Because this historical overview is an important part of your research project, you will not want to skimp on the details. Your historical overview should be 650-800 words long.

One method of organization you can use for your historical overview is to begin with an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis (statement of main idea). Then, organize succeeding paragraphs according to your P.A.S.T.E. map, choosing to arrange them in a logical order, such as order of importance.

Suggested Structure:

  • Introduction that includes thesis

  • Background paragraph that includes basic who, what, when, where, why and how.

  • 2-3 paragraphs that develop topics from your P.A.S.T.E. map (one of the topics per paragraph)

  • Conclusion

Editing & Proofreading:

  • Remember to maintain a logical fluency by using transitions.

  • More words does not always mean better writing. Read for fluency. If your sentence sounds awkward, it is. If it doesn't make sense to you, it won't make sense to your reader.

  • Don't forget to proofread carefully before you publish this and all your work.

More help from Mrs. Schulze

Integrating Source Material and Using Parenthetical Documentation

New in 2008: More help with integrating outside information

For this part of your multigenre project, you will need to use the information you got from your Internet and print resources. There are three basic ways to weave this information into your own writing: a direct quotation, a summary, and a paraphrase. See the guide from the Purdue OWL for help.

There is also a section in the Falcon Skills & Style Handbook that will help you with integrating source material into your writing and with documenting your sources.

Model phrases to use when weaving in source material: click here.

Direct Quotation: a direct quotation is when a writer cites a short passage from the original text, word for word. When the writer finds he or she cannot state it better, a direct quotation is appropriate. Quotations are punctuated with quotation marks.

Summary: a summary is when a writer condenses the passage so it exists in a shorter form. Some phrasing may change, but most will be original text.

Paraphrase: a paraphrase is when a writer has put a passage from a source into his or her own words.

For each quotation, summary, or paraphrase, you must cite the source of the information. The Purdue guide is a great help. See the Indiana University site for help in recognizing acceptable and unacceptable paraphrases.

MLA Guides:

P.A.S.T.E. system graphic organizer (PDF file)


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2004 Pat Schulze and Dawn Hogue