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Introducing Students to Library Research


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Research is a process that is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex questions.

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Learning goals

  • Understand that a new researcher must develop a foundational knowledge base
  • Understand that research questions are formed where there are gaps in the current information or research topics are often based on societal, personal, and professional needs.
  • Develop a basic, researchable, question.

Suggested assignments

  • Ask students to draft a research question or come to class with a research question they have used in the past. Then, provide students with research questions from more experienced researchers, and ask students to compare their research questions. Help students analyze some of the differences and determine what elements they might be able to incorporate into their next research question.
  • Ask students to reflect upon the steps they went through when researching a major purchase or event in their lives (e.g. buying a car, selecting a college, etc.). Let them identify the steps involved in the research behind such a decision and their relative effectiveness in achieving the desired outcome, then consider how they might use a similar strategy in the academic setting.
  • Assign students to keep research logs in which they note changes in particular research directions as they identify resources, read, and incorporate new learning.

Assignments for the frame Research as Inquiry from CORA.

Suggested assessment questions

It is a bad idea to do background research because knowing too much about a topic will lead to too many research ideas.

  • True
  • False

When choosing a research topic, you may consider your:

  • Personal interests
  • Academic or professional interests
  • Societal needs
  • Gaps in the existing research
  • All of the above

Choose the sentence that contains the elements of a research question:

  • I’m studying (topic) to investigate (question) in order to understand (significance).
  • I’m studying (topic) to prove (idea) in order to convince (audience).
  • I’m studying (a group) to develop a better understanding of (topic) because (significance).

Assessment materials for the frame Research as Inquiry from the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox.

Related tutorials

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