Make sure the assignment is crystal clear—a handout is never a bad idea.
Ensure that students understand that they need to focus on a particular element of a topic, even if it the subject of the assignment is general, rather than try to cover everything about it.
Talk about format, citation style, and when something should be cited. Encourage questions and discussion.
Remind students of the University's academic honesty policy; be sure they know you will enforce it.
Research and Finding Sources
Take time to talk about evaluating information critically.
Provide guidance by defining what a research journal is (hand out a list of the most relevant ones available in Harrison University Libraries), and discuss what is and is not an acceptable source.
Schedule library instruction and/or require the research tutorial; even upper level students need instruction in new library tools. Schedule instruction to coincide with giving a research assignment.
Direct students to Harrison University Libraries' web subject pages as starting points for finding quality information on the web (and let us know about sites that should be added).
Remember that many periodical articles are only available through the libraries' online databases. The best source may not be in print or microfilm.
Do not exclude web sources without very careful consideration. Many excellent sources (including government information) are only available online.
Be sure that the library owns the material (you might want to check the shelf to be sure it is there, or consider reserves).
Do not have all your students looking for the same thing unless it is on reserve—it will disappear!
Consider alternatives to the traditional "term paper" such as
Problem solving. Require students to present background/history/data and then find a solution to a problem; this calls for analysis, not just gathering facts but using them.
Make research the topic. Have students find information on a topic in different types of sources, using different searching tools, and write about both the process and the differences in the information they found.
Consider group project. An entire group is less likely to plagiarize blatantly; on the other hand, one member of a group frequently carries the load and getting groups together to work can be difficult.
Consider requiring progress reports, working bibliographies, outlines, drafts, etc.
Consult with a librarian. This may help make the assignment better and will allow us to provide better assistance to your students.