Examples of Good Research Assignments
Locating Primary and Secondary Sources
English 542 Library Exercise: Dr. Erika Lin, English
Requires students to look at both primary and secondary literature of the English Renaissance. Students must find 5-10 secondary sources using library databases such as MLA Bibliography and then use those sources to find additional citations. They must also find 4 primary sources written prior to1660 by using Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Using Several Different UofL Libraries
English 101/102 Research Synthesis Paper: Dr. Tamara Yohannes, English
Uses a semester long theme (some examples: the 1930s, humor, myth) for the course and includes extensive use of library resources. Students must write four papers, each focusing on the topic they choose within the theme. Students must use resources from several different UofL Libraries or collections (and thus different disciplines).
Using a Microfilm Collection
History of Childhood in America: Dr. Nancy Theriot, Women & Gender Studies
Students read one issue of a nineteenth-century children's periodical (available from the Libraries American Periodical Series microfilm collection) and write an essay (5-8 pages) analyzing the periodical in terms of any theme we have discussed thus far (such as race, religion, class, region, slavery, urbanization, gender, institutions).
Using Popular Literature as a Jumping Off Point to the Scholarly Literature
English 101 Annotated Bibliography Exercise: Alana Frost, English
Students gather 5 texts that they read regularly. These can be comic books, magazines, song lyrics, novels etc. They summarize their choices and include them in an annotated bibliography. The class goes to the library and conducts research to find work that is being done on the same topics as they've identified in their own "pleasure reading." Students then submit a second annotated bibliography based on the scholarly work they've found.
- Relationships between articles: Have students trace citations. Start with a scholarly journal article and have them trace a few of the citations back to the original-and then perhaps trace some of the citations in that article back. Upper- level students could use Web of Science to do this. OR Have student analyze the bibliographies of several scholarly articles on the same topic to see sources in common. Discuss why those might be good sources to look at.
- Find a fact or statistic in a magazine article. Have students research the statistic. Where did it originally come from? Is it used correctly?
- Anthropology, Ethnology, Cultural Studies using eHRAF (Human Relations Area File electronic database). See http://www.yale.edu/hraf/teachingehraf.html for ideas.
- Early English Books (EEBO) Examples of works from all disciplines: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/info_res/featured.htm "They are recommended as key texts from the collection, as well as for being interesting and representative of the times."
- Trace a news quote in Lexis-Nexis.
- Trace the use of a word using a full-text primary source database like Literature Online (LION).
- Compare how an event is reported in the alternative press and the mainstream press using Ethnic Newswatch or Alt-Press Watch.
For more information about any of the above assignments, contact Anna Marie Johnson.