UPDATE: Getting Started with…Research Paper

Hey all – be sure to review the material in module 4 on academic writing. Note the intricacies of in text citation from APA. This is very important for the research paper and the graduate writing requirement for the university. As I am working through your lit reviews, I thought I should update this post and move it up to the top.

A few notes from me:

  • Academic writing involves conveying ideas with evidence and a clearly-crafted and supported argument. Beware of sweeping generalizations without citations to back up your ideas. Opinion can come in the concluding section as you explore what your dive into the information behaviors of your community has taught you and how information services might respond.
  • Academic writing is more formal than blogging and other forms of written expression. Write out contractions (didn’t = did not), avoid informal language, and a conversational tone. This should be polished, concise and clear.
  • Sub-headings are useful for guiding the reader through a well-planned outline. Use them in the literature review section and Discussion section if you can. For example, your discussion section might include sub headings that identify your major points from the literature review section and what you learned exploring community-based resources.

This guide will help you get started with the Research Paper assignment:

Research Paper:

The goal of the Research Paper 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 SLIS classes. Successful completion of this paper satisfies San José State University’s Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR), and the INFO 200 learning outcomes #2-#5.

You will be evaluated 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. 5/7

Action Items:

  • Complete the readings and view the recordings for all class modules as you go along. How do any of the information theories we’ve covered in the course relate to your information community? Consider how you might incorporate some of these information theories in your research findings. Be sure to address how your community fits with the characteristics of an information community identified by Fisher and Durrance.
  • Use these tips or create your own strategies for keeping track of all your sources and stay organized as you go.
  • Remember – anything you have written for the course before is fair game to use in your research paper. It is NOT considered self-plagiarism to re-use, and re-mix content you have written for other assignments. The literature review, information sources survey, and blog post assignments are all intended as building blocks to help form the basis of your final research paper.
  • Consider the student examples of successful research papers.

Use the Assignment Helper: Research Paper to assist you.


Follow the assignment requirements to ensure you include all of the required components.

  • Be sure your paper is correctly formatted with citations using APA style.
  • Length is a minimum of 3,000 words and maximum of 3,500 words, not including references.
  • At least 20 sources (at least 12 of which are scholarly sources)
  • All required sections in order
  • Remember to submit your assignment as a Word doc or PDF to Canvas (not your blog) by 5/7, 5pm PT.

Image credit: Johannes Jansson/ [CC BY 2.5 dk (], via Wikimedia Commons

8 thoughts on “UPDATE: Getting Started with…Research Paper

  1. Profile photo of Jess Costello

    Something I realized (a little too late) when writing my literature review is that I can’t find any peer-reviewed sources regarding the information behavior of my community. There are sources about the community, but most of them are about consumer behavior or broader social implications. Would those sources, combined with sources about information seeking behavior in general, be okay, or do the sources specifically have to be about the information seeking behavior of the community?

    1. Profile photo of Violet McCrigler

      I ran into this same issue and at Michael’s suggestion contacted Ann Agee (our librarian). She got back to me right away and was super helpful pointing me in the right direction. There is not much to my community but when I looked at with a broader scope I found a lot that could be applied to them. Hope that helps; Ann is awesome!

      1. Profile photo of Michael StephensMichael Stephens Post author

        @violet @jessicacostello Ann is awesome! She has assisted many 200 students over the semester to refine their search strategies. I also think it is great that students get to interact with an LIS professional in this way early on – someday some of the folks in this class may be curating LibGuides for students just as Ann does.

  2. Pingback: Research Paper Extensions – INFO 200 – Information Communities

Leave a Reply