Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Posted at 12:06 AM ET, 07/23/2010

From a list of ideas to an 11,200-word essay

By Valerie Strauss

Here is a letter written by a high school student about the many ways he benefitted from researching and writing a scholarly history paper. Tianhao He, a rising senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, sent it to Will Fitzhugh, founder and editor of The Concord Review, believed to be the world’s only English-language quarterly review for history academic papers by high school students. Fitzhugh frequently notes that most high school students graduate without having written a serious history research paper and he has called on educators to ensure that they do.

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,
It has been a little over a year since I first heard about The Concord Review in March 2009.... I can proudly say that the publication of my essay in this prestigious journal has been one of the highlights of my [last] school year. From reading scholarly articles under the mid-July sun to plowing through Alexander Hamilton’s lengthy economic reports while snow was piling up outside my window, my journey in writing my research paper on Hamilton for The Concord Review was one of tremendous growth and discovery.

In many ways, completing this independent research project was much like building a house, in terms of the personal initiative and industry that it took. From a mere list of ideas on a sheet of notebook paper to an 11,200-word essay within the pages of The Concord Review, I was able to craft a product that was unique and that reflected the insights I had gained after an enormous (to me) amount of research and analysis.

What was truly remarkable about this opportunity was that it allowed me to combine my passion for writing with my passion for subjects like history, economics, and government.

From a (HS) student author’s perspective, the rigorous process of researching, writing, and revising that this project entailed was an active learning experience that allowed me to improve my skills in critically analyzing academic material and in drawing my own conclusions supported by evidence. The countless hours I spent on this project were all worth it. The beauty of it all is that the skills I gained through this experience carry over not only to the classroom but also to all of the future academic endeavors upon which I embark.

But most importantly, writing a research paper for The Concord Review was FUN! I found great joy in learning new things from every page I read, and it is this genuine passion for learning that I think The Concord Review so effectively cultivates in budding scholars.

Whenever anyone asks me about my paper, after seeing the picture in our school’s library of our principal and me holding the Spring 2010 issue of The Concord Review, the first thing I tell them is that I spent so much time writing this paper because I enjoyed it and because it was fun.

The Concord Review has opened up many paths for me, all of which I look forward to exploring with enthusiasm. The opportunity for students that is afforded by The Concord Review is simply invaluable, and I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude for all that you have made possible for me and for so many student authors over the past 20 volumes of this unique journal.

With great appreciation,
Tianhao He, Class of 2011
Walter Johnson High School
Bethesda, Maryland

By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 12:06 AM ET
Categories:  History  | Tags:  concord review, history, how to write a research paper, walter johnson high school, writing research papers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wake County diversity battle
Next: Tunisia bans spanking (even by parents)


I've learned a lot from writing research papers also.

Posted by: jlp19 | July 23, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I think it's important to note that this paper was apparetnly assigned to be done over more than one semester or even academic year. Most of the "research" papers I had to do in high school, and I suspect most of the papers the discussion has been about, were much different. We had one semester to think about the subject, narrow it down to a topic, go to the library (this was way back when) for material, take notes on the material, form a thesis, organize the notes, and write the paper. As a result, we tended to write "reporter" type papers, such as a short account of some historical event or to choose topics we already knew something about because if we chose an unfamiliar topic and then discovered there weren't enough books in the library on the topic we had no time to change topics. In college the process was the same, except the term was much shorter (and the college library had much more material and more hours). Several members of my family and I are freelance writers, and very few articles have had to be written under those constraints.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 24, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company