How to Research​

When students with ADHD or executive function gaps are asked to "do research," it can seem like a vague and overwhelming task. Where do they start? Where do they look? How do they record what they find? How do they synthesize everything so they can use it for their project or paper?


Here is a guide that can help them understand where to start and where to go.




1. Start from the ending. What is the finished product you'll need? A presentation? An essay? Look at your assignment sheet to learn the parameters of the assignment. What is your teacher expecting you to produce once your assignment is finished? What questions will be answered?


2. Then you can plan backwards: think about how much time it will take to write the paper/create the presentation, how much time it will take to synthesize the information you get from your research, and how much time it will take to do the research. You can estimate.


3. Start researching.


      a) Keep in mind what your teacher expects you to produce and what questions they want answered. Write these questions on a Doc, piece of paper, or white board so you keep them in mind as you research.


     b) Look for primary sources, credible web sites, news articles from reputable news organizations, books, and magazines. Skim them to see if they will be useful in your research.


     c) Once you have a collection of sources, read each one, taking notes either in a Doc, on a piece of paper, or directly on the article if you've printed it out. You can highlight sections you want to quote or use in your essay or presentation.


     d) Take a day to step away from your research.


     e) Come back to your notes and annotations. Have your teacher's expectations, the assignment outline, and the questions to be answered with you. Begin to organize your notes in ways that will help you answer the questions and meet the expectations of the assignment. You may want to create a new document that synthesizes your notes and annotations into categories, either one you write by hand, or one you type into a document.


4. Now you are ready to create the first draft of your final product, whether it is an essay or a presentation.


I have put this information into a graphic that you can share with your student. I can also email this image to you; just ask!