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Library Information for Faculty

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Research Assignment Collaboration

What can I expect from research assignment collaboration?

You and the liaison librarian will work together to develop a research assignment that fits your course goals, information literacy curriculum goals, and is scaffolded to help students be successful. You and the librarian will meet a few times to talk through ideas and develop the assignment. Ideally, you share a sample or a full file of completed assignments, invite the librarian to presentations or speeches, or otherwise create an opportunity for the librarian to see how the students interacted with the assignment.

Who grades the assignment?

As the instructor of record for the course, course faculty grade assignments. Librarians can provide student feedback if the two of you develop that as part of the assignment.

I've always written my own assignments, why would I collaborate with a librarian?

While course faculty are experts in their discipline, librarians are experts in teaching students how to do research, what resources the library offers, and how to use the variety of databases. Librarians can provide feedback on how to help students be successful on research assignments by providing perspective about students' abilities based on level and specialization and recommend scaffolded research. Additionally, we can help teach the research process so students become stronger researchers alongside your expertise in disciplinary knowledge.

How do I start? / I have more questions

Use the information in the left sidebar to reach out to your Division Librarian.

Assignment Design Tips

Purpose & Transparency

Be sure students understand the purpose of the assignment. What do you hope they will learn? How is the assignment tied to course goals or information literacy goals? Why is doing research a worthwhile endeavor?


Undergraduate student benefit from a scaffolded research process with opportunities for feedback built in. Keep in mind that peer feedback can be useful, provided students are provided a framework for giving one another feedback. Students can get feedback from their professor and librarians as well. Having multiple dates when different processes are due helps the student organize their timeline which is a skill they are developing in college.

Sources & Guidance

Suggest specific sources, use their correct name, and be sure the library has access to these sources. For example, if you refer students to PsycArticles, you want to suggest PsycArticles, not Ebsco. The library often gets new databases, database names change, and subscriptions expire. Check with your division librarian to ensure your guidance is accurate from year to year. If your class is working with a librarian, include their name and contact information in your syllabus along with other ways for students to contact the library for research assistance. 

Variety & Creativity

Are there more ways for students to showcase their research besides a traditional research paper? Consider giving students options such as a presentation, podcast, zine, and annotated bibliographies. Encourage students to use a variety of source types like news articles & videos, personal experience, primary & secondary sources, popular sources, art, and more.

Online information

Consider student research an opportunity for students to practice navigating online information, rather than discouraging it. Librarians can help provide student guidance and parameters within your assignment. If there are certain types of websites or sources you'd like students to avoid be clear about what they are and transparent about why they're best avoided.


Pitfalls to avoid

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts rarely allow students to engage meaningfully with information or practice critical thinking. It can be useful to encourage students to visit the library along with other offices and parts of campus as part of an FYE course, but this alone will not improve students' research skills.

Assuming students have research experience

While many students are comfortable with computers and accessing online content, they are brand new to college research. They may not have used research databases in the past at all, or have very limited experience with these. Keep in mind that terms like database, citation, abstract etc. are likely to be new terms, which is why we also teach research vocabulary throughout our information literacy curriculum.

Complicated research without instruction

Students can benefit from working with a librarian in nearly all courses that require research. While we see many English Composition and Speech classes, that doesn't mean students are equipped for research in a new discipline or have mastered the use of databases and information evaluation. Schedule a library instruction for your class and/or require or recommend individual research consultations for students.