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Education Reporter

The Lost Art of Writing Research Papers 
By Donna Garner

Students no longer need the excuse "The dog ate my research paper" because in a large majority of our nation's schools, no research papers are assigned for the dog to eat. Many high-school teachers around the country have stopped teaching research-paper writing because they simply do not know how to keep their students from plagiarizing on the internet. Rather than face the problems that arise when students cheat, many teachers are backing away from assigning a full-fledged research paper at all.

Meanwhile, businesses are clamoring for employees who can do quality research and who can then document their research in such a way that there is no chance of litigation being filed against their companies.

Colleges and university professors are complaining because their students no longer know how to do independent research. When papers are assigned, many college students are taking the easy way out by plagiarizing because they really do not know a systematic way to approach the research process.

After teaching in the public schools for over 27 years, I have spent several years teaching in a private Christian school where we have required our students to research both contemporary and literary topics using the fifth edition of Joseph Gibaldie's MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (ISBN 0-87352-975-8, c. 1999).

Fellow educator Montie Smith and I have developed two research-paper packets - one for English I-II and another for English III- IV. The process is very explicit and sequential. Students are monitored at each step in the research process and during the writing of their papers. We believe we have found a way to make sure students do their own independent research.

We want to offer our research packets (plus an important document entitled "Steps to Research Paper" free to anyone who would like to use them. For this reason, the packets have been uploaded onto our school's website http://www.ctcslions.com under English Research Papers I- IV. We want public schools, private schools, charter schools, and homeschoolers to make use of our materials. The papers are available in PDF, Microsoft Word and HTML files for easy accessibility.

By downloading the papers onto their computers, teachers can change the content to make them specific to their students' needs. CTCS is a private Christian school, but educators in the secular setting can easily utilize these materials by making a few changes on their computers. We are not claiming authorship or copyright privileges.

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