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Designing Research Assignments

Clear learning outcomes for library-based research

Effective Assignment Checklist

Download the Effective Assignment Checklist


This guide was originally created by Elizabeth Foster, who is currently Public Policy & Social Sciences Librarian for Georgetown University and is used with her permission and that of Lehigh University. Resources were created for a workshop by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning CITL at Lehigh University.

Clear Expectations

  • State the purpose of the assignment and the learning objectives.
  • Provide discipline-specific context: what does research mean in your discipline? How is research conducted, disseminated, and evaluated?
  • Provide logistical information: length, citation style, formatting, number of sources, acceptable and unacceptable sources, etc.
  • Provide evaluation criteria or a rubric.

Research Process

  • Topic selection: Provide some guidance on how to decide on a topic or design a manageable research question.
  • Recommended sources: Identify key databases and resources so students know where to start.
  • Critical thinking: If you usually emphasize finding and accessing information, take things a step further and also emphasize evaluating and synthesizing information from different sources.
  • Make research reflective: Have students compile research logs or write a brief reflection on the research process.

Library Resources and Support Services

  • Check to see if the library has the resources students will need to complete the assignment.
  • Share your liaison librarian's contact information with your students.
  • Ask your liaison librarian to make a course guide or visit your class for an instruction session.
  • Add your liaison librarian to your Course on Canvas 
  • Promote online library resources, such as RVC's Library Guides and Interlibrary Loan.

Academic Integrity

  • Specify the required citation style.

Research Assistance

RVC Library   

Reference Desk   815-921-4619


Brent Eckert  815-921-4604

Maria Figiel-Krueger   815 921-4606

Lukas Wenner   815-921-4603