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Introduction to the Research Process: Research Assignments

This guide will help you to complete any research project from start to finish!

Research Assignments

The Research Assignments on this page will be similar to assignments that your instructors will ask you to complete. Need help? Contact your librarians! 

Balanced Research Portfolio

The “balance” in the Balanced Research Portfolio comes from your gathering a wide range of meaningful sources in a variety of formats on a topic that you are studying for class or for your own interest. Following the guidelines for this assignment and using the resources in this guide will help you to: gather information and sources on your topic, understand and evaluate those sources, engage deeply with new information that you find, and to notice and pursue connections among disciplines and ideas.

Create a balanced research portfolio on the topic of your choice.

Be Curious  You can pick ANY topic.  Find something that you have always wanted to know about. Or something that you love. Or something that you keep hearing about but don’t understand.
Be Balanced  You will need to collect high quality sources of different types:
    Online source
    General reference source
    Book or ebook
    Periodical source: Newspaper 
    Periodical source: Magazine
    Scholarly journal
Annotate   After you find the source, you have to read and digest it carefully. Toward this end, you will create annotations for the source that you select in each category. The annotations should be approximately one paragraph long. You should describe the source, explain its importance to your topic, and why you selected it.
Be Reflective   At the end of this process and as the conclusion to your portfolio, write two paragraphs:  1) on the most interesting things that you learned about your topic, and 2) the most valuable things that you learned about the research process.

Final product
Your final product will be annotated entries for 6 sources representing the above types. Each entry in your balanced research portfolio should begin with the correct MLA citation for the source, followed by your one paragraph annotation. The final part of your portfolio will be the Reflection section.

Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography is a list of citations representing the sources you have found in your research, with each citation followed by a descriptive and evaluative paragraph. (See Citations for correct format in each style.) 

How to Write an Annotation for a Source Citation

A source annotation ought to show your engagement with the source and your evaluation of its credibility and usefulness. Your instructor might ask you to address something particular in your annotation, or you could consider answering questions like these:  

  • What kind of source is it? Be specific and thorough in your answer.
  • What does it offer that is special? (Research table, video link, the author's expertise, etc.)
  • Brief summary of the content...
  • How is it particularly useful or interesting to you? 
  • And how did you find it?

APA - Annotated Bibliography Example

Chicago Style - Annotated Bibliography Example

MLA - Annotated Bibliography Example

Selection Strategies

If your instructor does not assign a specific topic for you to research, consider these strategies:

  • Google 'Topics in [subject discipline, such as Health Science]'
  • Try the Topic Selection Worksheet
  • Browse topics in these databases:

For instructors

A good understanding of library resources, research skills, and information literacy in general is not set apart from the rest of a college education but intrinsic to it. The assignments posted here are examples of how library instruction can support your existing course content and provide your students with opportunities to engage with and evaluate information, analyze and synthesize concepts, create and support arguments, and think and write critically on a wide variety of topics. 

The librarians are happy to work with you to adapt or design an assignment to support your course objectives! Please contact us any time.