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Keefe Regional Technical School: Evaluate

Evaluating Steps


The last stage of the research model is to EVALUATE your work. 

During this stage you will consider the PRODUCT of your work to date, doing some serious REVISION. You should also take the opportunity to consider the PROCESS you have gone through, engaging in REFLECTION. 

While you are your first and most important evaluator, remember that there are other people who can help you: your teacher, the school librarian, or your nearest public library, and trusted friends and relatives. You are not in it alone! 

Keep your eyes on the ball. Refer back to the teacher's assignment or your stated purpose regularly. Try to EVALUATE your progress at each step in the research process, rather than waiting until the end. Remember, because research is recursive, you can move between any two steps. 

Hopefully as you EVALUATE your completed research you will feel a sense of accomplishment and increased self-awareness that you can take with you to the next challenge. 

In This Section

  • What questions should I ask myself as I revise my work?
  • What questions should I ask myself at the end of a project? 
  • How can reflecting on the research process improve my research skills?
For most writing, it is normal to have to revise, not just once but several times. You will use a similar process for editing presentations, posters, websites, and other projects. The process and questions below may be easily adapted regardless of the format you use to share your research. 
The first time you revise, try to focus on big picture, global edits. Now is not the time to worry about making each sentence perfect, although you can certainly fix any errors as you notice them. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: 
  • Do you have a clear and meaningful purpose that your audience will care about? 
  • Is the organization logical and effective? Is it the best organization to support your thesis? Do any sections need to be reordered? 
  • Do you have sufficient evidence and arguments to support your claims? 
  • Are there any sections that need more development? 
  • Are there any sections that do not support your thesis and should be deleted? 
  • Is the point of view consistent and appropriate for the assignment? 
Once you are happy with the overarching content and structure of your draft, then it's time to focus on specific language choices. 

Research Tip

If you have enough time to put the paper aside for a few days before revising, a little perspective can help. Another strategy for gaining perspective on your work is to read it aloud, ask someone to read it to you, or read the paragraphs in reverse order from the end of the paper back to the beginning. 
The following checklist can help you or an editor evaluate your research paper draft: 
  • Does the introductory section: 
    • Provide appropriate background information? 
    • Validate the importance of the topic? (E.g., can you answer, "So what?")
    • Tell the reader where you are going? 
    • Avoid using cliched, overly dramatic, or otherwise ridiculous "hooks"? 
  • Is the thesis statement clear, original, and focused? 
  • Does the organization follow logically from your introduction and thesis statement? Can the reader easily follow along?
  • Does every main idea or claim relate back to your thesis statement or purpose?
  • Are the sources sufficiently varied throughout the paper? 
  • Are all ideas and information taken from sources cited correctly, whether summarized, paraphrased, or quoted directly? 
  • Are all ideas and information taken from sources clearly introduced and explained? 
  • Are all quotations: 
    • Integrated smoothly into your text? 
    • Reproduced exactly as they appear in the original, with any modifications indicated with brackets and ellipses? 
    • Important enough to include (i.e., be careful you are not using too many, which can overshadow your own voice and arguments)? 
  • Do you have a conclusion that synthesizes the whole, reinforces your thesis, and leaves the reader with a sense of closure? 
  • Is the point of view consistent and appropriate for your audience and purpose (e.g., in most academic writing the first person is not acceptable, but in a "three-search" paper it may be expected)? 
  • Is tense consistent and appropriate for your discipline (e.g., literature is usually discussed in the present tense whereas historical events are discussed in the past)? 
  • Is your voice confident and engaging? 
  • Is your word choice powerful and precise? Is your sentence structure varied and well constructed?
  • Have you observed all rules for grammar, punctuation, and mechanics? 

Research Tip

Although the rules of good writing are relatively universal, just as different academic disciplines may require different citation styles, they can have different expectations for style and tone in research. 

When in doubt, ask your teacher. He or she may be able to read a draft of your work or provide a sample paper to give you a better idea of the expectations for that subject.
Before you submit your paper, make sure it meets all the guidelines for MLA formatting. 
This is one of the easiest things to get right, which is why it is one of the most frustrating to your teachers when you get it wrong. When the format of your paper is sloppy or incorrect, it undermines your overall credibility as a researcher: the reader can't help but wonder what other corners were cut. 
Check your paper for the following: 
  • Did you use 8.5 x 11 white paper with black ink? 
  • Are your margins one inch on all sides? 
  • Did you use a 12 point standard font, preferably Times New Roman? 
  • Did you double space the entire document, with no extra spacing between any sections and no sections single spaced? This includes the title of the paper and the Works Cited page. 
  • Did you include a heading with your name, your teacher's name, the name of the class, and the date in European format (e.g., "21 January 2015") at the top left of the page, also double spaced? 
  • Did you include a header with your last name and page number at the top right of each page? Watch the MLA Format in Google Docs screencast to see how. 
  • Is your title capitalized and centered above the body of the paper, with no other special formatting? 
  • Did you italicize the titles of longer sources and put the titles of shorter sources in quotation marks? There should be no underlining in your paper, though you may italicize a word or phrase for emphasis if necessary. 
  • Did you follow the rules for formatting your Works Cited page: 
    • Is your Works Cited a new page in your paper? 
    • Did you give it the title Works Cited, centered at the top of the page, with no additional formatting?
    • Is it double spaced with no extra spaces between citations or the title? 
    • For each citation, are all lines after the first indented?
    • Are all entries alphabetized by the first letter of the citation? 
  • Did you staple your paper at the top left corner? Did you resist the uncanny temptation to use a report cover or title page unless specifically requested by your teacher? 

If you cannot answer YES to these questions, go back and fix it!  If you can, your paper is finished. :)


Thinking about thinking is called METACOGNITION. You can learn from reflecting on your experience doing research.
Of course, you don't have to wait until the end of your research to evaluate your progress. It's something you should be doing all along the way, each time you decide to move on to the next step or return to an earlier one. 
Try to get into the habit of reflecting after each research session: 
  • What progress did I make today? 
  • What do I need to do next? 
  • What questions do I have or challenges am I facing? Do I need any help? 
  • What questions have I answered or challenges have I overcome? 
  • Do I need to make any changes to my research process or research question?  
When you finish your research and share your findings with an audience, pause for reflection. You might even write in a journal to remember how you feel for next time. 
Ask yourself these questions at the end of a paper or project: 
  • What is the most important thing I learned during this project? 
  • What am I most proud of? 
  • What do I wish I could go back and do differently? 
  • Did I read the assignment carefully and address every requirement? 
  • How did I manage my time? Are there steps I should devote more or less time to in the future? 
  • What great research resources did I find? How will I remember to use them again in the future? 
  • How did I organize my notes and sources? Was I able to find, use, and cite information as needed? 
  • How did I handle challenges or frustrations? Did I find help when I needed it? 
  • If I could give advice to a future student, what would I tell them? 
  • What do I want to learn about next? 
Because research is a cycle, get ready to take what you have learned and start the process all over again.