Documenting Website Research Paper

Document your work with multimedia, then publish it as a treehouse.

How to document your work and documentation examples:

See the Multimedia Reference for information on the technical aspects of each type of documentation.

Related Activities


Documenting Your Work

Why Document Your Work?

Document your work in order to publish it as a Treehouse

Join Tree of Life contributors from around the globe to create an open access digital library about biodiversity that presents the research of a wide array of learners and scientists.

Relate Your Message

Think about telling someone a story, describing to others the results of an exciting investigation, or explaining how to play a game. In what ways can you communicate your message? You may use words to relate your message, or you may use pictures, sounds and movies to draw your audience into the experience. Publishing a treehouse is a multimedia format for sharing with others the story of your work, whether it is a scientific investigation, a poem or artwork of your favorite organism. Therefore, before and during the creation of your treehouse, you need to think about how you will document your work so that you can share it with others.

Inform Your Own Research

Documenting research is an integral part of the research process that will shape the analysis of your work and the conclusions that you can draw. Using multiple forms of media (multimedia) to record your work will inform your research process, and can in some cases even provide the basis for your work.

Record, Celebrate and Support Biodiversity

Scientists can use audio and video recordings of organisms, from birds, and whales to bighorn sheep, in order to support endeavors such as understanding behavior, studying variation, mapping location and supporting conservation efforts. Presenting to others a multi-faceted description of an organism, especially when it is rare or unfamiliar helps to bring the organism alive to the audience.

Review the sections below to learn about:

  • ways you can document your work and research to support your inquiry
  • types of media you can present in your treehouse
  • examples of how others have used media for documentation and research

Text Examples

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Text examples on the ToL
Text examples on other sites
Text (Written) Documentation

There are several ways to record your research process in a written format, including:

  • a science journal to record ideas, hypotheses, observations, materials, etc. - basically all aspects of the inquiry process.
  • a personal journal to record information about your feelings about the process, relationships between partners etc.
  • a formal report that states your research process, from hypothesis to literature review, analysis and conclusion, in a standard format for presenting scientific investigations.

Journals can be recorded in a notebook and sections transferred to digital format (with a word processing program). Formal reports are generally typed and printed.

Science Journal

What should you record in a science journal?

  • Your research idea(s), question(s) and hypotheses
  • Feedback from teachers and peers
  • Notes on information related to research
  • The steps you took in your research process
  • Materials and equipment used
  • Data that you collect through observation and experimentation
  • Charts, graphs etc. of data you have collected
  • Reflections on the research process (e.g. what worked, what did not work etc.)
  • Daily description of events if the project extends over time
  • Research findings
  • How you will analyze your research findings
  • Directions for future research

Personal Journal

What should you record in a personal journal?

  • Your thoughts and feelings about your project
  • Triumphs and frustrations with what is happening
  • If you are working in a group, you can record your thoughts and feelings about group work, and how you might be able to help the group function better

Formal Report

What should you record in a formal report?

  • A statement of your research problem and hypotheses
  • Materials and equipment used
  • The steps in your research process
  • A summary of your research findings
  • An analysis of research findings
  • A conclusion and discussion of directions for further research 

Research projects generally involve a combination of a science journal and a formal report for written documentation. However, the personal journal is also a really helpful format because it allows you to think about your research on a more personal level and view your work from a different perspective. 

A written journal will include visual representations of observations and other data. This brings us to the next way to document research: visual documentation. 

Visual Examples

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Image examples on the ToL
Image examples on other sites
Movie examples on the ToL
Movie examples on other sites
Visual Documentation


  • Photographs (preferably taken with a digital camera) diagrams, and drawings of:
    • Organisms being researched (such as sample of skin or exoskeleton that has been shed, a sample of fur or feathers, or a lizard doing pushups)
    • Habitat
    • Equipment used for research
    • Steps in the research process
    • Other researchers like classmates or teachers (with permission of individual, school and/or guardian)
  • Photographs can also be taken of posters or other materials created for presenting your work
  • Tables or Graphs showing the results of your data analysis
  • Images and media from other sources to illustrate your points.


Movies taken with a digital camera, or if you have the time and editing software, movies captured with digital video cameras.

These movies should be short so that they can be easily uploaded and downloaded. One minute or less is a good limit to ensure they are small enough in size for ToL web pages. Movies can capture:

    • Organisms being researched
    • Equipment used for research
    • Steps in the research process
    • Other presentations of research (such as a poster presentation, or demonstration)
    • Researchers in action or engaged in discussion (with permission of individual, school and/or guardian)


Audio Examples

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Sound examples on the ToL

Sound examples on other sites

Audio Documentation

Sound recording

Sound recordings can be made using a digital camera or video camera with the lens kept on. They can also be made with digital audio recorders (many MP3 players can also record digital audio) or by using a microphone plugged into a computer.

One minute or less is a good limit to ensure the sound files are small enough in size for ToL web pages. Sounds can capture:

  • Sounds made by organisms being researched
  • Steps in the research process
  • Discussion of researchers, interviews, instructions, narration


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The purpose of the parenthetical citation is to lead the reader to an exact item in the bibliography, so the first entry in the bibliography (usually author’s last name, sometimes title if no author is listed) is what is included in the parenthetical citation. Additionally, the exact point (page number) is listed.

Plagiarism is using the words, thoughts, or ideas of someone else without giving credit. Plagiarism can take many forms, and it can be intentional or accidental.

"Along with using someone’s direct words without quotation marks and attribution, plagiarism includes using someone’s thoughts or ideas and representing them as one’s own. For example, if you were to change the wording of a passage, but not credit the source, you are plagiarizing as much as if you used the original words. This presents something of a conundrum: students are required to use the research and writing of others, but such use is limited. In most research assignments, students are encouraged – or even required – to use the research of others, but proper credit must be given.

To ensure that you will give credit appropriately, begin by keeping your research materials organized. There are many note-taking systems available to assist you, but it is essential that you keep track of which ideas came from which sources. After finding good information from a reputable source, you must then integrate that information into your paper. There are several methods of doing this: quotation, paraphrase, and summary." (Talman)

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