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Collaboration on Research Assignments

Librarians can:

  • Help you design an assignment.
  • Test the assignment and determine if resources are available.
  • Discuss what databases and reference materials are available.
  • Develop a research strategy for the assignment.
  • Identify the best and/or newest information resources for your course goals.
  • Collaborate on developing a library course guide.
  • Provide course-related library instruction on specific resources and research strategies.
  • Provide individual research consultations for your students.
  • Give feedback about pitfalls or problems encountered after the assignment is finished.

Library staff can:


Faculy/Staff can:

  • Meet with a librarian at the beginning of a semester to go over the syllabus and assignments.
  • Provide copies of assignments to the Reference staff.
  • Talk with a librarian about strategies to avoid plagiarism.
  • Consider putting some materials on Reserve.
  • Work with a librarian on an assessment tool.
  • Break research assignments into manageable pieces with checkpoints along the way.
  • Encourage students to find scholarly material through the article databases available on the library web site and cite them properly.
  • Include the evaluation, analysis, and application of information as part of the research process.
  • Clarify terminology with students (ex: magazine, journal, peer-reviewed) (ex: library database vs. web).
  • Arrange for a librarian to visit your classroom for a portion of a class for a specific purpose (ex: demo a specific database in their field of study; show how to do alerts or rss feeds from library databases; demo how to use RefWorks, an online citation manager; etc.)

Why Have Library Research?

  1. Promote information literacy (knowing when information is needed, identifying tools for research, searching, locating, evaluating, applying, etc.)
  2. Prepare students as lifelong learners.
  3. Provide opportunities to introduce and navigate through various information resources, especially in their selected field of study.
  4. Extend course content by providing research experiences in the field.

What to Avoid


  • Assuming students know the basics.  Many may not have had library research experience, some may be transfer students, or the instruction received did not cover specific tools needed for your course.
  • Giving a scavenger hunt.  They do not provide experiences in meaningful research and are usually frustrating.  Many times only the librarian can find the answer. 
  • An entire class looking for one piece of information or researching the same specific topic; especially difficult when printed materials are involved. Consider using the library's Reserve service or scanning materials for your e-course materials.
  • Requiring a resource that is no longer available.  Libraries are constantly changing.  If you've used an assignment before, check the resources needed before using it again.
  • Use of the phrase "Do not use internet resources" without clarification. Clarify that the library's indexes and databases lead to periodical artices which can/should be used.