research assignment design

Developing Tufts scholars

  • What do you want your students to accomplish? 
  • What research skills are you helping them to develop? 
  • What resources/formats/scholarly conversations do they need to know about to be successful scholars in your course(s) and/or subject area(s)?

These are just a few of the questions you may delve into as you design and revise assignments, and your librarians are here to help.  Together, we can help ensure assignments effectively guide students, linking your objectives with the tools and support they need for success. 

Typically, the process involves looking at an existing assignment and discussing how the students have responded to it in the past.  Or, it may involve ideas for a brand new assignment that you want to be sure connects students with library resources and services effectively and efficiently.     

+To consult on designing or revising a research assignment please contact your librarian.

+Sample projects and assignments that connect students to libraries and the research process:

Assignments for first year students through graduate students

  • Keep a research journal and record all your research on a particular topic, the sources or databases consulted, keywords, and search methodology
  • Search and evaluate websites, write a brief (two paragraph) evaluation of each site, and cite the pages of the website using the discipline’s bibliographic citation style
  • Compare information sources of how a topic is written about in various sources, such as periodicals, encyclopedia, web sources, and books
  • Follow research trends by selecting a present day issue or concern and search past literature on the topic at various intervals

Assignments for juniors and seniors through graduate students

  • Create an annotated bibliography that includes ten to fifteen (or more) of the most useful resources on a topic, including books, journal articles, websites, and other relevant sources
  • Track a classic paper through a citation index by following the trail of a well-known article by a respected scholar into connected publications
  • Conduct a literature review that studies what has been published on a topic in books, journal articles, websites, and other relevant sources
  • Consider forecasting in retrospect by examining how articles were written during a given time period,  predicting the future of a then-current cultural practice or phenomenon, and test whether those forecasts came true or not

Assignments for graduate students

  • Trace a scholar’s career and ideas by locating biographical information, preparing a bibliography of his/her work, analyzing the networks and reaction of the scholarly community.
  • Evaluate a research report in a particular discipline, and examine the study’s experimental design, data, and interpretation of data for adequacy and consistency
  • Understand the literature of a discipline by examining, for example, what is included, how it is produced, disseminated, and accessed, which media predominates, and the publishing cycle; then conduct research on a specific topic that aligns with the disciplinary constraints
  • Identify a discipline’s journals, explore how many are published in a given field, and use citation analysis databases to determine which have the highest impact factors

+See a complete list of assignments that help build research, featured on the Teaching @ Tufts site

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