Research Strategies

Research Strategies

Here you will find strategies for teaching and/or conducting research in English 1001 or 2000.

 

Library Services:

 

LSU's libraries offer several instructional services to writing teachers, including multimedia classrooms, research tutorials, and professional presentations. Most of these services can be set up online.

 

To reserve instructional services in the library for teaching purposes:

  1. Go to www.lib.lsu.edu/index.html.
  2. Click on “Services” at the top.
  3. Click on “Instruction” underneath “Services.”
  4. On the page that comes up, click “Classrooms.”
  5. Under “Classroom Schedules and Requests,” click “Classroom & Instruction Request Form.”
  6. Fill out the request form and submit it electronically.

Reservations should ideally be made at the start of the semester. For more information on reserving classrooms, refer to the following site: www.lib.lsu.edu/classroom/instructions.html.

 

TigerTAIL (Tutorial About Information Literacy) is a series of instructional pages and quizzes designed to help LSU students master the basics of research, including evaluating sources and avoiding plagiarism. In addition, the library has created a number of videos explaining the ins and outs of electronic research. Students should be familiar with the diversity of resources available through the library, including indexes and databases, government documents, and electronic journals. If the LSU libraries do not currently own a copy of a desired resource, ILLiad (Inter-Library Loan) is available for borrowing materials from outside of LSU.

 

Research-Skills Assignments:

 

One effective way of teaching research skills is to divide a research assignment--such as a paper or other project--into its component parts. The requirement of completing each step and handing it in for approval motivates students to become familiar with the steps. Some teachers make each step in the process a part of the final grade (e.g., annotated bibliography, 10 points), thereby emphasizing the importance of each step.

 

For example, a research paper might be divided into the following steps, which must be handed in at intervals throughout the semester.

  • Define your topic using appropriate articles, course-readings, or scholarly reviews of the literature for background information.
  • Develop a list of relevant keywords and phrases to search for in the library catalogs. Record which keywords best identify relevant resources and explain why.
  • Use databases to find books, articles and web sites that are relevant to your topic. Complete an annotated bibliography explaining why each resource is appropriate for your paper and how it will support the thesis.
  • Hand in a rough draft; the teacher will then evaluate the types and appropriateness of information used.

 

Familiarizing Students with Scholarly Literature

Assignment Purpose
Browse relevant sections of the stacks and articles in several appropriate journals. With the information you have learned, describe themes, questions and methods that are important to your discipline. How does the discipline relate to other disciplines? Become acquainted with the sort of questions, issues and methodologies that are central to your discipline.
Browse through the last few issues of a major journal in your discipline. List the articles that are relevant to a topic in your class. Choose one of the articles, state the thesis, and describe the sources the author used for evidence to support the thesis. Are those sources available at LSU? Become acquainted with the sort of questions, issues and methodologies that are central to the discipline. Learn to evaluate and locate sources used as evidence in scholarly articles.
Use periodical and book indices to update a literature review done several years ago on a topic being addressed in the class. Explain why some resources were included and others weren't. What criteria were used to evaluate resources? Learn how to conduct a serious literature review. Gain a more thorough knowledge of the methods used and approaches taken in considering an issue. Identify how arguments, positions and ideas take different tracks in different parts of the literature.
Examine the importance of a seminal scholarly work or pivotal scholar by learning how the relevant ideas have impacted and been developed by later works and figures. Use databases and citation indexes to identify relevant articles and books. Learn to trace the development of an idea through the scholarly literature. Gain a better understanding of how ideas evolve and of what make a work seminal to a discipline.
Use an online database to locate multiple articles, citing one that is assigned for the class. Consider how each of the articles uses the cited article. Write about what this reveals about the cited article, its importance, acceptance, and wider implications within the discipline. Learn to trace the development of an idea through the scholarly literature. Gain a better understanding of how ideas evolve and of what make a work seminal to a discipline.

 

Teaching Types of Resources

Assignment Purpose
Identify an article from a popular publication (such as The New York Times, Newsweek, Science News) that reports on an issue being addressed in your class, then track down the scholarly source of the information. Answer the following questions: Is the information in the popular article accurate? Why would you rely on one of the articles instead of the other? What is the intended audience of each article? Learn about the differences between popular and scholarly resources.
Identify opposing viewpoints on a controversial social issue and document how the viewpoints are developed in popular and/or scholarly literature. Learn about the differences between popular and scholarly resources.
Identify opposing viewpoints on a controversial issue and select one to work with. Compare popular and scholarly work supporting your chosen viewpoint. How do the scholarly and popular works differ? What sort of argument and evidence does each type of work offer? Is it clear which works are popular and which are scholarly? Learn about the differences between popular and scholarly resources.
Look at newspaper articles about an important event or issue from several newspapers. Compare how the event is covered in different newspapers and try to explain discrepancies. Become familiar with an important type of primary resource. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Use newspaper, magazine and journal articles to follow an event, trend or viewpoint as it develops, considering and researching the parties, ideas and issues involved. Become familiar with important types of primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Have your students trace a piece of legislation from inception to final resolution, including debates, hearings, political and social contexts. Become familiar with an important type of primary resource. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Have your students identify a cluster of primary resources that would be relevant to answering a question or issue that is being addressed in your class. Become familiar with primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Visit a museum or historical site that allows access to objects relevant to your class. Have the students choose a particular object to research and then write a short paper that includes an analysis of the object as well as social, historical and economic context. Become familiar with primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Provide each student in your class with a historical artifact without revealing its purpose. Have the students use all the historic resources at their disposal to attempt to identify and explain the purpose of the artifact. Become familiar with primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Provide each student in your class with a piece of art without revealing its time period or style. Have the students use all the resources at their disposal to attempt to explain the artwork from different angles. Become familiar with primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.
Provide each student in your class with the name of a person relevant to the class. For instance, students taking a course on the history of jazz might be given names of more or less obscure jazz musicians. Have the students learn as much biographical information about the person as possible, and then have the class compile information to search for themes and trends. Become familiar with primary resources. Gain a better understanding of the contexts in which primary resources need to be understood to take account of perspective and bias.

 

Finding & Evaluating Information

Assignment Purpose
Complete a "scavenger hunt" given to you by the professor. This might include locating books, journals, articles, citations, special collections and other sources of information. Learn basic techniques for finding scholarly information.
Complete and submit for approval an annotated bibliography of information resources that are highly relevant to a topic you want to address. Be sure to explain why each resource is both relevant to and appropriate for your topic. Learn how to locate and evaluate information.
As you search for books, articles and other sources of information, record the databases you use as well as the specific keyword searches and subject headings they use. Explain why some searches worked better than others and what led them to alter their search strategies. Become more proficient at locating sources of information by efficiently searching scholarly tools.
Provide a precise statement of the search topic, a list of keywords or thesaurus terms (as appropriate), and an outline of search logic. Justify the choice of databases. Carry out the search. Shows the background research necessary for a successful search, and teaches the mechanics of searching.