Library Research Report Assignment

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Library Research Report Assignment


400-600 words
4-6 entries; about 60-120 words per source

Purpose/goals if the assignment:

develop your ability to conduct scholarly research and relate the results of this research to a specific inquiry

develop your ability to translate specialist information into non-specialist language

draft building blocks for the final report


practice APA citation style (or MLA if you are majoring in a humanities field)



Assignment Introduction:

Answering a research question involves seeking out and processing information that helps you answer that question. This is true whether you are researching insurance plans or conducting academic research. In developing the Library Research Report, you will seek out scholarly articles relevant to your research question, extracting ideas from them that you will later synthesize into a final report (i.e., the final version of your project) and an answer–however tentative–to your research question.

On its face, the library research report may seem to resemble what is sometimes called an “annotated bibliography.” Please note, however, that your goal in developing this report is not simply to summarize sources. As you write your summaries, you will be producing “building blocks” for the first draft of your Research Project . This means that you should be summarizing only content that is directly relevant to your research question. Your writing should also be clear and accessible to non-specialist readers.

A carefully constructed Library Research Report will significantly lighten your workload when you reach Week 3, since you’ll be able to construct your draft from writing you’ve already completed rather than producing an entirely new document.


Assignment Specifications

Your finished Library Research Report should include:


Your name at the top of the document. (You can follow strict APA if you’d like and include a separate title page, but this is not required.)



Your research question



Complete and correct citations for 4-6 scholarly/peer-reviewed journal articles accessed through NU Library databases



A 60-120 word paragraph on each source that answers the following questions:



WHO? Who stands behind the information? Your entry should identify (quickly and concisely) the background/credentials that connect the article’s author/s to the topic. (See the Week 2 reading on identifying scholarly sources for guidance and examples.)



WHAT? Identify a claim (or claims) presented in the article that is relevant to your inquiry. (Remember, your task is not to summarize the entire article, but to summarize the article content that is relevant for your own inquiry. In some cases, of course, the entire article may be directly relevant to your project.)



HOW? what support is presented for the claim? How do the authors back up the claim? (Don’t go nuts here and summarize every detail of the methodology. Instead, strive for the kind of concise, general summary one might find in a news account of recent research findings.)



SO WHAT? What is the relevance of the claim for your inquiry?


Sometimes you’ll be able to express the “what” and “so what” at the same time, in which case you shouldn’t try to artificially separate them.

Just make sure that your paragraph addresses all of the categories–WHO, WHAT, HOW, and SO WHAT? And remember that your answer to the “so what?” question should point to your own research inquiry.



Tip! If you’re having trouble getting started, tackle each of the above questions—Who/What/How/SoWhat? —one at a time.  Before you know it, you’ll havewritten—or at least sketched out–your first paragraph.

Limit your use of direct quotation, quoting only when you need to call attention to key terms or phrases.

Use complete sentences, correct spelling and punctuation, etc.

Please don’t forget to include your research question at the top of your report.
Please review the following Sample Library Research Report: – Sample Library Research Project PDF


Source-selection checklist:

This assignment requires you to engage with specialist sources–specifically, peer-reviewed journal articles. If a source you’ve found is a peer-reviewed journal article, you should be able to answer “yes” to all of the questions below:


 ___ CONTENT.  Does the source read like a scholarly article? (If it sounds more like a news article or a review, it’s probably not a scholarly article.)
 ___ CITATIONS/REFERENCES.  Does the article include in-text citations and end references?
 ___ CREDENTIALS.  Is the author’s institutional affiliation noted? (For example, does a university or government email address accompany the byline? Or is there a bio that explains the author’s area/s of expertise?)
 ___ PEER-REVIEWED?  Is the journal listed in Ulrichsweb as peer-reviewed? (For a review of how to use Ulrichsweb, see the Journal Databases Activity. Remember that you search Ulrichsweb by journal title, not by article title.)


Feel free to use citation-generator tools such as those found in library databases; just remember to check these computer-generated citations carefully. Here is a short APA reference sheet you may find helpful: – APA Reference PDF


You’ll notice that APA no longer requires that you identify the database from which you retrieved an article. It’s fine, though, if you want to include this information. (Some instructors still prefer to see this information included.)

If you are having trouble finding peer-reviewed sources relevant to your topic…


Widen the lens.

Remember, a “relevant” source is rarely a source on your exact topic. As noted in the Journal Databases Activity and in this week’s video lecture on “The myth of the perfect source,” a relevant peer-reviewed source is any source that can help you bring a scholarly perspective to your topic.



Ask for help from an NU reference librarian.

Library contact methods:
Toll-free Phone: (866) 682-2237   x7900
Direct phone: (858) 541-7900
Text:  (858) 367-0904 (Text)

Library hours:
Mon-Thu: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sat: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Pacific Time)



Where appropriate, bring in one or two (1-2) in-depth, high-quality sources that are not peer-reviewed journal articles.

For example, your searching may uncover an in-depth piece of investigative reporting or a major government report that is relevant to your topic. For each source you include in your week-2 report that is not peer-reviewed, take extra care to establish who stands behind the information and why the information can be regarded as reliable.




Grading criteria for the Library Research Report:


*Note: Points will be deducted for deviations from assignment requirements/specifications. Greater deviations will result in greater deductions.


All assignment specifications fulfilled


Treatment of the questions What? and So What? is clear, concise, and sophisticated



Treatment of the How? question is clear and concise



Source identification (Who?) is precise and smoothly handled



Relationship between entry and research question is unambiguous; strong alignment between sources and inquiry



Confidence in use of Standard English, language reflects a practiced and/or refined understanding of syntax and usage.



Adheres to APA citation format (MLA for arts/humanities majors)



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