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East Providence High School Library: Senior Project

Senior Project Ideas

What is an Essential Question?

Formulating Your Own Research Question

It's important to develop an essential research question that truly interests you! 

Your essential question will be the main idea of your entire project. Your essential question is a question that asks, in some detail, what you want to learn about during the research process.
An essential question asks about something that you can prove with evidence. It is not a simple statement of fact. An essential question should be the product of your own critical thinking and some background reading.

 Your supporting questions guide you as you work so that you will read and take notes only on what's needed for your project.

What Makes A Good Essential Question

  1. Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer. The question is "non-googleable."
  2. Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.
  3. Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
  4. Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.
  5. Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
  6. Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
  7. Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.
  8. It is interesting to YOU

What Are Supporting Questions

Your supporting questions guide you as you work so you will read and take notes only on what is needed for your project.

Example 1:  Topic = Steroids 

   Issue = Steroids and Professional Athletes

   Essential Question = Should steroids be banned from professional sports?

   Supporting Questions:

  • Why do professional athletes take steroids?
  • What are the harmful effects of steroid use?
  • What are the current laws/rules of using steroids in professional sports?
  • Where do athletes get steroids?

Example 2:  Topic = Skateboarding

   Issue = Skateboarding and Helmets

   Essential Question = Should skateboarders be required by law to wear helmets?

   Supporting Questions:

  • Why don't some skateboarders wear helmets?
  • What injuries do skateboarders suffer most often?
  • How many skateboarders are seriously injured each year?
  • How do skateboarding injuries affect the lives of skateboarders?

Why Can't I Use Google to Research

Recommended Search Engines

Writing An Annotated Bibliography

What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography, much like a bibliography (also called a list of works cited or references) lists the sources consulted or cited in a research paper but also includes annotations, which are brief, evaluative paragraphs for each source. The purpose of annotating sources is, according to the Cornell University library website, to “inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.”

Why Write An Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography helps identify the relevance and credibility of sources used in your research. It may also identify the scope and breadth of an issue or provide insight to the varied findings on a subject. Students often find writing an annotated bibliography to be a useful task because it helps them understand the research subject in greater depth.

Sample Annotation

MLA Citation:

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. Pantheon, 1986.

Influential American cartoonist Spiegelman won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for the best-selling Maus (1986) and Maus II (1992). A graphic novel retelling of his father Vladek Spiegelman’s experiences as a Polish Jew imprisoned in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, Maus memorably depicts Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, and Poles as pigs. The graphic novel form allows the artist to retell his father’s story in both word and image, and the depictions of mice, cats, and pigs highlight the roles of the hunted, hunters, and collaborators. Maus (and Maus II), a harrowing tale, is nevertheless an appealing text which can be understood and studied by students of varying ages, from high school through college, in history as well as literature courses.


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Research Resources


In Google, to limit searches to known/credible sites, do the following:

Type  site: source topic 
(example:  site: new york times should police wear body cameras )

Look for articles from : New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, NBC

World Book

ABC-CLIO Social Studies Databases