Prior to beginning a research paper or project, students are asked to write a short abstract that carefully considers their research question, their role as a researcher (synthesizer, reviewer, problem-solver, etc), the importance of their research question, and the information resources they will need to consult to answer that question. This assignment helps students move beyond researching a broad topic and towards narrowing the focus of their project to a research question. Adapted from an assignment in Professor Stephen Reese's UGS 302: Understanding 9/11.
When completed before a library instruction session, this exercise helps students arrive with well-defined information needs.It can also be developed into a research proposal assignment (perhaps as an alternative to writing a longer research paper) by asking students to provide an annotated bibliography.
Updated August 2017.
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