How to Do a 5th Grade Research Paper

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Fifth grade is a turning point for many students because it is the school year when academic demands increase. By fifth grade, it becomes clear which students exhibit gifts or challenges in certain areas, such as writing. Although most students will have written research papers in fourth grade or earlier, a fifth grade objective is to write a research paper of more than four pages that is in-depth and better sourced. Writing a fifth-grade research paper may seem daunting, but it just involves selecting a topic, researching it and writing the paper.

1 Think about what interests you

Think about what interests you. If something strikes your curiosity, such as how airplanes stay in the air, that might be a good topic for you. Animals, travel and sports are other areas to mine for topics, although the choices are endless.

2 Once you select your topic

Once you select your topic, be sure it isn't too general. For example, Lions of Africa would cover too much ground, but "Hunting and Diet Habits of African Lions" would allow you to focus more tightly.

3 Visit the library

Visit the library to find periodicals and books that contain information on your topic. Ask a librarian to help you if you are unfamiliar with how a library is organized. Also, surf the web for information. As you use a source, jot down the name of the publication or website, the author, the publisher and the date of publication.

4 Read your sources and take notes

Read your sources and take notes. Some people like to use three-by-five index cards, writing one idea and its source on each card to stay organized. If you copy something from a source, be sure to put quote marks around it so you remember that it is a quote to avoid plagiarizing (illegally copying) another writer.

5 Once you have gathered all your sources

Once you have gathered all your sources, shuffle your cards into subtopics.

6 Organize your ideas using an outline

Organize your ideas using an outline. Jot down all of your main ideas, then under each one, write some of the ideas that support it. For example, a main idea might be that lions hunt for their food, while supporting ideas might be what animals are their prey. Avoid repeating ideas.

7 Write your first draft

Write your first draft. The paper should include an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction identifies the topic, tells the reader your opinion on the topic and why the reader should be interested in it.

8 Has several paragraphs

The body has several paragraphs that develop your ideas in more detail. Each paragraph should have no more than one idea, although you can use more than one paragraph per idea. The conclusion is a summary that repeats your main idea.

9 Write the bibliography

Write the bibliography, which is the list of reference works used in the paper.

10 Proofread your paper

Proofread your paper. Read it aloud to yourself to find errors. Have a parent read it to check for anything confusing or incorrect. Make any corrections required.

  • Be careful to follow your teacher's rules in writing your report. Some teachers might want you to format your paper in a certain way, for example, or include photos or other graphics. These are all good learning opportunities that will affect your grade.
  • Use the spell-check function on your computer to catch any spelling and/or grammar mistakes in your paper before you submit it.

Christy Scannell has been writing professionally since 1985 with work in many publications, including the "San Diego Union-Tribune," "Outreach" magazine and "Marriage Partnership" magazine. She has also written a three-novel series, “Secrets from Lulu’s Café,” for Simon & Schuster. Christy has a Master of Arts in communication from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from Anderson University.