Research papers require a somewhat different approach. 

We've played around over the years with the schedule of a research paper course and we haven't yet arrived at a problem-free way to structure it. Early on, we limited the paper to two drafts because there just didn't seem to be time for three within the limitations of the eight-week schedule. And it's just not possible to extend it to additional weeks. 

After several years and complaints from students, parents, and writing coaches, we redesigned the research paper workshop schedule to include three drafts. But in order to do it, we had to do some awkward things with the schedule. 

This goes for both the research paper workshops AND the high school annual courses that include a research paper.

I'll go over each week of the course briefly below, but this is the part you have to take note of:

There are three unusual weeks in the research paper workshop schedule. In which coaches do NOT have a full week to mark and return papers: Weeks 1, 3 and 7. 

Below is the schedule we provide students.

Research Paper Timeline 

Week 1: Decide on a topic and thesis. Email your writing coach for approval. 

Schedule time for research 

Gather sources 

Submit Project Plan 

Week 2: Study and note-taking 

Submit Notes Report  

Week 3: Study/Note-taking 

Submit Outline & Summary 

Week 4: Compose and submit 1st draft 

Week 5: Compose and submit works cited page 

Week 6: Compose and submit revised paper 

Week 7: Compose final draft 

Week 8: Final draft due

Notes for Coaches

Week 1: We ask students to contact you by email (your Canvas Inbox) with a topic and thesis to get your approval before moving on to source gathering and submitting a project plan. Please check your email daily until all your students have been given the thumbs up on a topic and thesis. 

There will be time later to sharpen the thesis, of course, so no need to perfect it. Just be sure the topic and thesis are reasonable in scope and fit the type of research paper--informational or persuasive. 

We realize this emailing is an additional responsibility for you and there is no additional compensation for it. We just think it will make your job easier in the coming weeks, and it is balanced by the fact that the first few weeks of the course involve almost no editing from you at all. 

By the end of the week, students who have received your approval will submit what we call a Project Plan. See the course material for details. 

Project Plans do not need editing. They just need your input. Please review them as soon as possible and return them to your students with your comments so that they can confidently begin acquiring more sources and taking notes. 

The point of Week One is to get students headed in the right direction. 

Week 2: Students will spend the second week taking notes, hopefully using the note card method we advise in the course material. They will simply submit to you at the end of the week a report on their note-taking progress. They will not submit the actual notes, of course. 

This should be an easy week for you. Do as much as you feel is necessary to encourage your students to stay on task in this important week. 

You have the full week to comment on the Notes Report, but the sooner you can return them, the better. 

Week 3: In week three, students will continue note-taking and compose an outline and summary of the paper. Again, there is no real editing for you to do this week, just reading and advising. 

But You'll want to get students their outline/summary submission back as soon as possible, since they will be composing their first draft in Week 4. This is especially important if you have concerns for the direction of the paper. 


Be sure your student assignments are unmuted as soon as they are ready in these first three weeks. Don't wait until just before Thursday to unmute as we do in other  courses.

Week 4: In week four, students will compose a first draft. You will have the full week to mark that draft. Be thorough. Although the focus  should be on content and structure, you might want to address formatting and mechanical issues as well because you will have an abbreviated window to mark the 2nd drafts. This is the crucial week. 

Week 5: While you are marking the first drafts, students will be crafting their Works Cited Page. This is the nitpicky stuff. You will have a full week to look it over and correct all the nitpickiness.


In week six, students will revise their paper. 

Because of the limitations on the schedule, they will be asked to submit a final draft the next week. That means you don't have a full week to mark the paper. 

We assume that students will be making mostly cosmetic changes to papers in this final draft, so it's okay if they only have three or four days to complete them, but that means you have to get the papers back to them before the end of the weekend (assuming papers were submitted by the Thursday deadline). 

If you can't get them all done (and we understand that this happens sometimes), please make arrangements to extend deadlines on the final drafts with individual students. 

Week 7: Students compose and submit a final draft. 

You can take the full week to return it. 

The main thing is to communicate with students during these last weeks so that they don't get anxious about deadlines. It's important to be flexible here.