The research paper is a critical extended essay synthesizing and evaluating what you have learned about your chosen information community throughout the term. (Course Learning Outcomes: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8)
This paper should:
- Present an analysis of the current literature and discuss critically the issues and debates surrounding the information needs of your information community.
- Include a reference list of at least 20 sources, the majority of which should be peer reviewed
- Be a minimum of 3,000 words and no more than a maximum of 3,500 words not including the title page, abstract, and reference list.
- Use APA style with 12-point font size, Times New Roman font style, double spaced with 1 inch margins.
The paper should include 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,” as described in the APA Style Manual.
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. Using what you learned from the literature review matrix assignment as a starting point, the literature review section (2-3 pages) should provide a synthesis and critical analysis of the published research about the information needs and information-seeking behaviors of the information community you are researching. Describe how these previous works have contributed to our knowledge of the information community. Use course material such as relevant information behavior theories to frame the review. Use sub-headings to help guide the reader through the themes being discussed. Your discussion should address the following points:
- Who has written on the topic?
- What subtopics or themes have been covered?
- What, if any, schools of thought have developed?
- Are there are any controversies within the literature?
- What approaches or methodologies have been used?
- What weaknesses, biases, or gaps exist in the current research?
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. Provide a critical analysis of your research findings and assess how well your information community’s needs are being met based upon the information seeking behaviors identified. 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. Use sub-headings to help guide the reader through the major topics and themes being discussed. Your discussion might include the following:
- Details on what you learned about how your community employs technology to use, create and share information
- Intellectual freedom and diversity issues related to your community’s information behaviors
- What educational programming and services are available to your community from libraries or information centers
- Suggestions for what new resources and services might be developed in the future
Conclusion. Summarize what you have learned about your information community’s information seeking behaviors and information needs. Identify the implications for libraries and information centers that may serve your information community. What might the future hold?
References. Your reference list should include at least 20 items, the majority of which should be peer reviewed. APA formatting is required. This is work prior to adoption of APA 7 as well.
Evaluation and Submission
The paper will be evaluated on the following criteria:
- Thoroughness of background research (well-developed literature review)
- Organization and clarity of writing (clearly and logically presented ideas)
- Originality, depth of analysis and critical reflection
- Professional presentation (citations, references, proofreading, reference list)
Submit your finished paper to Canvas (not your blog) using the file naming convention: “LastName_NameofAssignment”.
Students will have the opportunity to submit a draft of their paper to the instructor for formal feedback up to one week prior to the final due date. Students can then incorporate this feedback into the final version of their paper submitted for grading.
Sample Research Papers
Note: These sample papers are from previous semesters and have a shorter lit review section. They also use APA 6. Fall 2019 and beyond: lit review should be 2-3 pages and follow APA 7.