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Recommendations for Assignments that Require Library Resources

For more information, see the LibGuide "Creating Effective Library Research Assignments".



Are understandable to students

  • Have a clear purpose related to course goals; tell students why they are doing the assignment
  • Are given in writing rather than just orally
  • Specify the source materials that are acceptable for use (print/electronic; journals/books/websites), but do not require a specific number of each type
  • Take into consideration students’ existing knowledge of information

Avoid jargon and ambiguous terminology

  • Define what you mean by web source: differentiate between the free web and library databases
  • Define terms such as “peer reviewed” or “scholarly article”
  • Differentiate between journals and magazines
  • Define what primary versus secondary sources mean in your discipline

Focus on increasing information literacy

  • Are NOT simple scavenger hunts
  • Focus on understanding the process of finding information
  • Focus on evaluating information, including websites

Are previewed by your college’s subject liaison librarian

  • Recognize that information sources are constantly changing; your librarian can help you find the most current information
  • Consider asking the librarian to speak to your class about resources for the assignment

Include a handout with library information (your liaison librarian may be able to help with this)

  • Consider including specific database suggestions
  • Direct students to an appropriate style guide or citation site like The Owl
  • Provide contact information for the library or your college’s subject liaison librarian


  • Compare information generated by Google search and database search on the same topic
  • Compare information on the same topic from a popular magazine and a scholarly journal
  • Research a topic that was written about the 1970s and again in the 2000s
  • Search for a topic in two/three different databases, i.e. search for “student leadership” in ERIC, PsycArticles, and Agricola. What are the differences in results?
  • Compile an annotated bibliography on your topic
  • Research the career and publications of a prominent scholar or the author of your textbook
  • Find facts to support or contradict a newspaper editorial
  • Compare the style, tone, and content of three journals or magazines related to your discipline
  • Trace a seminal article through a citation index to identify who is citing it, how many times, and why this is important to the author
  • Find three articles referenced in a research paper. Why and how did the author use them? Were they paraphrased or quoted directly? Why?

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