Research Process & Skills

  • Make the assignment an inquiry tied directly to course content.
  • Scaffold and vary your assignments. Break the research assignment into manageable parts. Research can be overwhelming for some students, so breaking your assignment into smaller, varied components and letting your assignments build upon one another can help students strengthen their research skills and provide you with opportunities to check in on your students’ progress and development. You can have students complete annotated bibliographies, write research proposals, submit multiple drafts, or engage in class peer-review sessions.
  • Don’t assume that students have had prior research experience or experience using Purchase College Library. Ask students about their research experience. Encourage novice researchers to contact a librarian.


  • Explain the assignment in writing. Provide context and explain why. Explaining why you are asking them to do certain things or what your goals are for the assignment can help them gain a deeper understanding of the research process, your particular discipline, and information literacy.
  • Be specific. Consider specifying the citation style you’d like students to use, clarifying terms that might be unfamiliar, like peer reviewed, scholarly, primary and secondary sources, etc.
  • If you discourage the use of “web sites,” be sure to clarify that web-based research databases subscribed to by the library are acceptable.
  • Help students avoid pitfalls by suggesting specific databases or other library resources by name to students.

Library Resources

  • Check to see that the Library has the resources students will need to complete the assignment. Talk to your subject liaison librarian about your needs.
  • Refer to databases by name (e.g. Art Bibliographies Modern, PsychInfo, etc) and not by vendor (Proquest, Ebsco).
  • Be sure to include the full titles of journals or other resources and avoid abbreviations.
  • If multiple students are going to be accessing the same resources, put the items on course reserves.
  • Remember, librarians are here to work with you and your students. Contact us!

To request an information literacy/research skills instruction session, please contact your Subject liaison librarian. If your discipline does not have a liaison listed, or you are not sure who to contact, please email Kim Detterbeck, Instruction Coordinator, or fill out the Library Instruction Request Form to schedule a session, workshop, or tour.