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The Value of the Independent Research Paper and The Concord Review

Compiled by Will Fitzhugh from The Concord Review

The formal research paper in high schools has been steadily disappearing over the past two decades, and it shows no signs of revival. The accessibility of the Internet, larger high school class sizes, over-worked teachers, and a growing emphasis on alternative forms of research presentation has dwindled the traditional 15-20 page research paper to just a few pages and Power Point presentations.

As the founder and editor of The Concord Review, I have spent the last 26 years championing the significance of the research paper. Since 1987, The Concord Review has been the only journal in the world for the academic work of secondary students, with 1,055 history research papers published from 46 states and 38 other countries in 96 issues so far.

Over the course if its history, the journal has published more papers by students from independent schools than from public schools, because public high schools have almost universally abandoned the serious history term paper.

These term papers teach students effective research methods, how to develop new concepts and ideas from their findings, develop a historical context for the world around them, communicate more clearly, and, perhaps most relevantly, prepare students for research papers they may have to write in college.

Several IvyWise students have submitted independent research papers to TCR, and it is looked upon favorably in some admissions offices.

William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard College, wrote: “We have been very happy to have reprints of essays published in The Concord Review, submitted by a number of our applicants over the years, to add to the information we consider in making admission decisions…All of us here in the Admissions Office are big fans of The Concord Review.”

So far, about 30% of the journal’s authors have gone to Harvard (115), Princeton (60), Stanford (35), and Yale (96), with others also attending MIT, Caltech, Oxford, Cambridge, Brown, Dartmouth, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Wellesley, the University of Chicago, and so on.

The Concord Review has received generous recognition from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, among others, and many words of praise from journalists, historians and scholars, including historian David McCullough, Eugene Genovese, the founding president of The Historical Society, and physicist Chiara R. Nappi.

With all of its prestige and authors who have gone on to become successful professionals, the journal has struggled to make enough money to cover operating costs, and is at risk of closing its doors altogether.

The Concord Review has been turned down for support by 154 foundations and the federal government, and the pay of the founder and editor-in-chief has averaged $10,000 a year over the last 25 years.

A concern for The Concord Review is that the level of support will not attract the next generation of leaders for the journal. As a result, there is a need for an endowment or other support. The hope is to attract financial support so that this unique venue for exemplary work by students and the legacy of The Concord Review will live on

We appeal to parents who want to see lots of other high school students be inspired and challenged by reading the exemplary history research papers of their peers, to join in the effort to establish a permanent base of support for these efforts.

In the world only the United States has offered such an academic journal at the secondary level for the last 25 years, and it should be, as Albert Shanker wrote, “A national treasure” worth preserving for the future.

If you would like more information on The Concord Review or how you can help save this revered journal, contact Will Fitzhugh at [email protected].

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