Guide or Instruction
Writing a Process Paper
National History Day in Wisconsin
Writing a Process Paper | National History Day in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
A process paper describes how you conducted your research and created your entry. It gives your judges a better idea of how you went about creating your project. If you had a unique research experience or an interesting reason that you chose your topic, highlight it in your process paper in order to explain this to your judges.
When to Write Your Process Paper
Most students write it toward the end of their process. Since the paper describes the process you went through to do your research and create your entry, you have to be far enough along in your project to write it. This means you need to know your topic and thesis, have most of your research done, and know overall what your project will look like.
- Exhibit, documentary, performance, and website categories require one process paper for each entry.
- The Historical Paper category does not require a process paper.
Group Entry Requirements
- If you are working in a group, you only need one process paper per entry.
- Group process papers must be written from the perspective of all group members and contain words like "we" and "our" to reflect that everyone in the group contributed to the project.
The process paper doesn't need to be as formal as your NHD project itself. It’s okay to write in first person and use words like "I" and "we" when talking about your project. You should be careful, however, not be too informal. Using slang is never appropriate. Using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling is also a must. Your process paper is one of the few things the judges get to take with them after they are done viewing your project. Leave them with a good impression!
Writing the Paper
The process paper has a title page and four sections. The sections allow judges to get insights into your specific topic and processes.
Length: No more than 500 words
- The process paper can be written in a narrative style, incorporating all of the sections.
- Or it can be in question and answer format, with a descriptive paragraph answer for each question.
Your title page must include the title of your entry, your name(s) and the contest division and category in which you are entered. Do not include your age, grade or school name.
Section 1 - How I chose my topic
The first section should explain how you selected your topic.
Section 2 - How I conducted my research
The second section should explain how you conducted your research. For example, was it difficult to find primary sources for your topic? Where did you go to find your sources?
Section 3 - How I selected my presentation category and created my project
The third section should explain how you selected your presentation category and created your project.
Section 4 - How my project relates to this year’s theme
The fourth section should explain how your project relates to the NHD theme and why is your topic significant in history. How did you develop the ideas of your thesis to make it fit the theme? Make sure that your theme connection and thesis are clear in your project itself, as well as in your process paper. This paragraph is often the most important part of your process paper.
See Sample Process Papers
You'll find sample process papers on the National NHD Website.
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The website category is the most interactive of all NHD categories. A website should reflect your ability to use website design software and computer technology to communicate your topic’s significance in history. Your historical website should be a collection of web pages, interconnected by hyperlinks, that presents both primary and secondary sources and your historical analysis. To engage and inform viewers, your website should incorporate interactive multimedia, text, non-textual descriptions (e.g., photographs, maps, music, etc.), and interpretations of sources. To construct a website, you must have access to the Internet and be able to operate appropriate software and equipment.
Websites can display materials online, your own historical analysis as well as primary and secondary sources. Websites are interactive experiences where viewers can play music, look at a video or click on different links. Viewers can freely navigate and move through the website. Websites use color, images, fonts, documents, objects, graphics and design, as well as words, to tell your story.
- Research your topic first. Examine primary and secondary sources. From this research, create your thesis. This will be the point that you want to make with your historical website.
- Narrow in on the content of your website. Decide what information you want to incorporate in your web pages, such as any photos, primary documents, or media clips you may have found. You should be sure to have plenty of supporting information for your thesis.
- Create your website with the NHD Site Editor.Click here to begin the registration process.
- Consider organization and design.
- Keep it simple: don’t waste too much time on bells and whistles. Tell your story and tell it straight.
- Borrow ideas from other websites: find design elements that work and imitate them on your website. Just remember to give credit where credit is due.
- Make sure every element of your design points back to your topic, thesis, and/or time period. There should be a conscious reason for every choice you make about color, typeface, or graphics.
PLEASE NOTE – If you converted your website to save from previous contest years, you will need to use a new email address to create an account for the 2015 contest. The email address is optional and only used to recover passwords in the event of forgotten or lost passwords.
With so many complaints in the past regarding the Scrib.d element on NHD Weebly, we have removed this element and recommend students post their bibliographies and process papers as PDF files on their websites, using the ‘File’ element under ‘Media’. Please visit the following website created by former NHD participant, Christopher Su, for helpful tips and guides: NHD Website Resources
If you have any further questions please email IT@nhd.org with your current URL and login information. If you have lost your login information, cannot convert your standard Weebly to NHD Weebly, or need an account recovered please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A process paper is a description of how you conducted your research, developed your topic idea, and created your entry. The process paper must also explain the relationship of your topic to the contest theme. For more information on the Process Paper and other rules, review the Contest Rule Book (English) / Contest Rule Book (Spanish).
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