Research Paper Graphic Organizers

This set of graphic organizers assists students in writing a five paragraph persuasive essay or research paper in which students utilize texts, whether primary, secondary, or literary texts or literary criticism to prove an argument.   By completing the set of organizers, students will wind up with what is essentially a rough draft that can then be typed up and revised as a final draft of research paper.

The organizer helps students form an argument, and then structure the research paper in a coherent and sophisticated manner. 

Note that the organizer makes ample use of “sentence starters” and prompts, in order to guide students most easily towards accomplishing each task. The heavy amount of scaffolding is intentionally included in the organizer not to enforce conformity and uniformity across all students, but rather to support students’ own creativity by helping them to develop and express nuanced ideas.

In order to write sophisticated research papers, students should take a nuanced approach to historical and literary issues, rather than asking them to completely take one side of an issue or another (see Common Core Standard 9.10.1a).  This means that students must be able to argue both points and a counter-points relating to a specific argument.

To help students approach historical or literary issues from multiple perspectives, questions should whenever possible be rephrased in the “to what extent?” format.  Asking “to what extent” questions forces students to take a nuanced approach to answering the question.

Once students have acquired these formal writing skills, they will be easily able to transfer them to future classwork as well as the types of writing done on standardized assessments.

Examples of to what extent questions:

  • To what extent was the Civil War caused by economic factors?
  • To what extent is Jane Eyre a feminist novel?
  • To what extent did barbarian invasions lead to the fall of Rome?
  • To what extent should the style and symbolism of two works of Renaissance art of your choice be considered similar and different? (Compare and Contrast question)
  • To what extent should the Neolithic period be considered a “turning point?”

Requirements of research paper

Five paragraphs, including an introductory paragraph, conclusion paragraph, and three body paragraphs supported by 6 pieces of evidence.

How students should complete this organizer and enclosed workshops

Wherever possible, students should work through the entire organizer in class.  This may mean taking 4 – 6 days of class time to help guide students through the research paper writing process.  While this may seem counterproductive to take “class time” away from teaching content, guided practice of these types of activities in the classroom, away from distractions outside of school, are critical to student acquisition of these skills.

Sample Schedule for completing enclosed organizer and workshops

Writing Workshop Day 1


Students begin Step One: “Thesis Statement Brainstorm,” and finish for homework.
Writing Workshop Day 2


Students complete Step Two: “Thesis statement,” using one of the templates and receive teacher approval.
Writing Workshop Day 3 Students complete Step Three: “Topic Sentences.”
Writing Workshop Days 4 – 6 Students complete Steps Four and Five: “Evidence Workshop” and “Research Paper Graphic Organizer.”