Research Paper

Purpose and Expectations

The goal of this assignment is to give you experience in writing a graduate-level research paper.  You will be required to identify an information community to examine, locate and critically evaluate the scholarly and professional literature relating to that community’s information-seeking behavior and needs, gather additional data about your users’ information practices and preferences from community-based resources, and summarize the results.  This assignment will also introduce you to the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.), the style manual used in most School of Information classes. You will be graded on the extent of your research, your description and critical analysis of your research findings, the evidence you provide in support of your discussion, the clarity and quality of your writing, and your mastery of APA formatting.  Successful completion of this paper satisfies San José State University’s Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).  It also meets 200’s student learning outcomes #2-#5.

Organization and Content 

The text of your paper (excluding the title page, abstract, and reference list) should be a minimum of 3,000 words in length and no more than 3,500 maximum.  The reference list should have at least 20 sources, and the formatting should follow APA style. The paper should have the following components in this order:

Title Page. Provide the paper’s title, your name, course number, course name, and date.  Also add a “running head,” which is a shortened version of the title placed in the upper left-hand corner of each page. 

Abstract.  In one paragraph briefly summarize your paper’s content.  The abstract should be between 150 and 250 words in length and placed on page 2.

Introduction. Identify the information community being studied and why an examination of this group is significant.  This opening section should conclude with an overview of what topics related to the information needs and information-seeking behaviors of the community the paper will address.  Start the introduction on page 3.

Literature Review.  Based on the literature review assignment, provide a brief description (1 to 2 pages) of the scholarly, peer-reviewed writings about  the information needs and information-seeking behaviors of your chosen community.  Be sure to identify the literature’s important authors, related information theories, major themes, and continuing weaknesses and gaps. Use course material such as relevant information behavior theories, etc, to frame the review.

Methodology.  Explain how the paper’s data was located or generated.  Typically this section will discuss the information sources used to gather background readings to learn about their information practices. Identify research-based and community-based sources you used. Note: This section does not require an analysis of the research methods used in the material you sourced – such discussion belongs in your Literature Review or Discussion sections of your paper.

Discussion. Present an analysis of what your research taught you about the information-seeking behavior of your community and the resources and services information professionals use to meet those needs. Be sure to include evidence to substantiate your generalizations.  This evidence should consist of quotes, statistics, and examples drawn from your reading in the literature and via community-based resources. Utilize course resources and readings to support your ideas.  Provide parenthetical references in APA format for your information sources.

Conclusion. Summarize your research findings and critically assess how well your information community’s needs are being met based upon the information seeking behaviors identified. Also suggest what new resources and services might be developed in the future.

References. Your reference list should include at least 20 items, the majority of which should be peer reviewed.  APA formatting is required.


Font. Use the 12-point Times Roman or Courier font

Margins.  1inch

Text. Double-space the text and indent each paragraph at least 5 –7 spaces

Quotes. If a quote is less than 40 words, use quotation marks and place it in the body of the paper.  If the quote is longer than 40 words present it as a block quote, indented 5-7 spaces, double-spaced, and without quotation marks.

For other formatting recommendations see the APA chapter on manuscript preparation.  Also consult Purdue’s OWL website, which provides guidelines on APA style and examples of different formats: (Links to an external site.)



Submit your finished paper to Canvas (not your blog) using the file naming convention: “LastName_NameofAssignment”.


 Sample Research Papers

Moskovitz_Research Paper (This example was submitted prior to length requirements for the paper.)




200 Research Paper Rubric
Criteria PTS
Introduction: Introduces the information community in an engaging manner. Explains why this community is important. Indicates the major topics addressed in the body of the paper. Includes overview of what topics related to the information needs and information-seeking behaviors of the community the paper will address.
5 pts
Literature Review: Discusses scholarly, research-based writings relating to the chosen information community. Synthesizes and analyzes the scholarly writings to explain the literature’s important authors, approaches, and themes. Identifies the literature’s existing weaknesses and gaps and suggests topics needing further study. Uses course material such as relevant information behavior theories, etc, to frame the review.
5 pts
 Methodology: Demonstrates knowledge of both research-based and community-based information sources. Provides insights into search strategies and use of library databases and resources, such as King Library. Clearly explains the sources of information used in the paper and how you, as the writer, gathered the material in your research and that which you cited in the paper.

5 pts

Discussion: Provides a detailed analysis of the information-seeking behavior and information needs of the community being studied. Supports generalizations with examples, quotes, statistics, and other data drawn from community-based resources and the scholarly and professional literature. Utilizes course resources and readings to support ideas.
5 pts
Conclusion: Reviews the paper’s key findings regarding the community studied. Critically assesses how well the information community’s information needs are being met and suggest resources and services that might be offered in the future.
5 pts
Style & Format: Presents all required elements of the paper with clarity of prose/strong writing style, with proper form and grammar. Follows assignment requirements for formatting and outline. Writing is well-organized, coherent, and objective. Reference list includes at least 20 items (mostly peer-reviewed) that are presented in correct APA style.
5 pts
Total Points: 30