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Faculty Guide to Library Research Assignments

Ideas for assignments

Although the typical research paper is a golden opportunity for students to learn about library resources as well as master their Information Literacy skills, other types of assignments may be more effective. 

The following assignment ideas are designed to help students better connect the world of information to student learning outcomes.  This connection plays a vital role in the development of students' critical thinking skills.

20 Ideas for research related assignments

Explore the following research-related assignment ideas and suggestions.  Feel free to contact your liaison librarian for help in adapting any of these to your course content.

  1. Use the library reference collection (subject specific encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks, etc.) to discover background information on a research topic. Compare this information to a search in Encyclopedia Britannica Online accessed through the AUS library databases on the same topic.

  2. Quote and cite sources in APA citation style to give proper credit and avoid plagiarism.

  3. Keep a "research log" documenting where information was found, analyze what search techniques worked and what didn't, and discuss how the material found affected your thinking on the topic.

  4. Working in groups, prepare a guide that introduces others to information sources on a topic or in a subject field. Use books, articles, and encyclopedia entries available from the library homepage at .

  5.  Search for a topic and compare results from a general Internet search engine (Google), a selective web directory (Librarians' Internet Index -, and a database of scholarly journal articles (JSTOR). 

  6. Prepare a bibliography of books, journals and web sites with evaluative annotations.

  7. Prepare a guide to the information sources on a particular subject. This may be presented as a group project to the rest of the class.

  8.  Prepare a literature review on a particular topic.

  9. Research a controversial topic using a variety of sources. Discuss how the different types of sources (e.g. newspapers, websites, news magazines, academic journals, academic discussion lists) treat the topic.

  10. Compare how two different disciplines discuss the same topic by finding articles from the journal literature of each discipline.

  11.  Compare the discussion of a particular research study in the popular and scholarly press.

  12. Compare popular and scholarly articles on the same topic in terms of content, bias, style, audience.

  13.    Compare two journal articles that discuss the same topic from different points of view. 

  14. Read an editorial and find facts to support or contradict. 

  15. Prepare a nomination of a person or group for a particular Nobel Prize or other significant award. In addition to defending their nomination, students would be required to learn about the prize, criteria for the award, etc. 

  16. Research the publications and career of a prominent scholar. The assignment might require biographical information, a bibliography of publications, and analysis of the individual in their field of research. 

  17. Research a particular company, organization, research lab, etc. as preparation for a (hypothetical) interview.

  18. Evaluate a web site based on the web evaluation criteria of accuracy, authority, bias, reliability, and currency.

  19. Compare a number of web sites representing government, personal, commercial, advocacy, and scholarly sites.

  20. Examine the treatment of a controversial issue in several sources including a newspaper editorial, scholarly journals, periodicals from different disciplines, and trade or association websites.