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Quick Guide to “Do’s and Don’ts” for Library Research Assignments



  • have clear objectives for the assignment
  • explain the assignment verbally and in writing
  • consult with a reference librarian to be sure that the library has the needed materials to support the assignment
  • schedule a library instruction class so librarians can teach the necessary research skills needed to complete the assignment
  • be clear about the level of research required (i.e. scholarly v. popular resources)
  • encourage students to use a variety of resources
  • emphasize the value of critically evaluating resources
  • provide students with complete and accurate citations to information sources and reference works
  • review proper citation styles and the dangers of plagiarism
  • provide incremental assignments where possible
  • encourage students to ask for assistance at the reference desk or schedule an individual reference appointment with a librarian


  • assume that your students are familiar with library research
  • limit research unnecessarily to one format (only articles for example)
  • send students to browse in journals for articles; periodical indexes (print or electronic) are a more reliable choice
  • send an entire class to look for one single item or piece of information