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College Writing 1 Information Literacy Toolkit

Research Assignment Tips


  • Be specific: explain what you mean by "scholarly" or "peer reviewed".
  • If you discourage the use of "websites" be sure to clarify what that means and that web-based research databases subscribed to by the library are acceptable.
  • Don't assume students understand how to differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
  • Help students avoid pitfalls by suggesting specific databases or other library resources by name to students.

Work with your librarian to devise shared vocabulary.

Library Resources

  • Check to see that the Library has the resources students need to complete the assignment, especially if you haven't used the assignment/activity in a while or teach at multiple institutions. Oftentimes, the library will not have an item in print, but will have it electronically. 
  • Refer to the databases by name and not by vendor (i.e.: Academic Search Complete is the name of the database, EBSCO or EBSCO Host is the vendor).
  • Be sure to include the full titles of journals or other resources.
  • If multiple students are going to be accessing the same resources, put items on physical or electronic course reserves. 

Annotated Bibliography Sequence

Incorporating the Library into the Annotated Bibliography Assignment

Learning Outcome: Critically evaluate sources for quality, relevance, and perspective, in order to select information most appropriate for the research assignment(s).

Teaching Strategy:

  1. The instructor and librarian discuss scholarly sources and how the librarian will be involved in talking about scholarly sources with the students, either actively involved, or given a copy of the students’ criteria before the searching strategies class.
  2. Either the Instructor and/or the Librarian leads students in a discussion about what a scholarly source is or they work with students to define criteria of an authoritative, scholarly source. The goal is to critically think about sources and get away from the good source/bad source binary.
    1. Possible teaching strategy:
      1. Source ComparisonStudents identify how information is effected by the different formats in which it is presented.
        1. Locate various source types about the same topic: a popular magazine article, a scholarly article, a newspaper article, and/or blog post on the same subject. Compare the sources for content, style, bias, audience, etc.
        2. Students analyze the creation process of the scholarly source. Identify attributes such as quality of writing/content, source diversity within writing, authority of the creator, etc. 
  3. Students then find their own source(s) and use criteria they defined to evaluate the source(s). They create their bibliography.
  4. Then, students evaluate each other’s bibliographies base off of the criteria they created. This gets them exposed to more sources, how their classmates use sources, and reinforces criteria and evaluation methods.
  5. Sample schedule: 
    1. Monday: Instructor discusses sources and students define criteria for evaluating sources (perhaps Librarian visits and participates OR is made aware of what the students decided).
    2. Wednesday: Librarian visits to talk about searching/using keywords and leads searching activity; also incorporates student's evaluative criteria into the discussion of what students may find during source exploration.
    3. Friday: Instructor discusses what makes a good annotation and how to approach annotating a source. Librarian/Instructor/students discuss what sources students found; students talk about the criteria they used to evaluate the source, we talk about scholarly sources as a whole.
    4. Weekend: students annotate their own source(s).
    5. Monday: Students swap annotations along with the source, and the workshop partner is expected to read the source & annotation, then give feedback on Wednesday.  
    6. Wednesday: annotation workshop with instructor.