Information Literacy Assignment:
Keeping a Research Journal


Keep an ongoing record of the library research you do for an assigned project -- use journal format (see guidelines below).  Include the sources or databases consulted, and keywords or subject headings searched in your entries. In the journal, list the sources you find that will be most useful for your research paper or project.


  • Provides students an opportunity to practice writing.

  • Provides an introduction to how information is organized, and orients students to Ramsey Library.

  • Encourages students to think critically about evaluating quality of resources.

  • Provides practice using a bibliographic citation style.

To complete this assignment, it will be helpful to review the following information:

Research Journal Guidelines

Basically, the journal is just a place to write down how you did the research for your topic. The research journal guidelines provide a structure for recording information. These guidelines only address the basics; however, you may include any other resources or strategies that you used.

A) List your topic and keywords or concepts that describe the topic.

B) Browse through reference books on the topic. 

  • Search the Library Catalog to find reference works. Reference books might include handbooks and specialized subject encyclopedias or dictionaries, such as the Encyclopedia of Psychology, Dictionary of the History of Ideas, and McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.
  • Is there one source that provides a helpful overview and background on your topic? If so, list it in your journal and explain why it will be useful for your research.

C) Find books in the general collection.

  • Search the Library Catalog to find books. List all terms, keywords or subject headings that you used in your searching. Be sure to note the terms or searches that yielded the most results.
  • Find the books on the shelves and select any that you think will be most useful.  List the title(s) and call number(s) in your journal.
  • If necessary, request books from ASU and WCU via the ABC Express Service

D) Find journal articles.

  • From the library home page click on “Research Databases.” Select to view Databases by Subject. Begin your search by clicking on “General Indexes,” and selecting Academic Search Premier.
  • In your journal list all the terms searched, and your search strategy. For example, "I used the combined search women AND entrepreneur to find information about business women in entrepreneurial roles."  Which terms or search strategies yielded the best results?
  • List bibliographic information for several articles that you might want to use for your research. Be sure to list the titles of any other databases you used in searching.

E) Find web resources.

  • Search the web for useful sites. Which search tool(s) did you use (Google, Teoma, etc.)?
  • List your search terms and phrases. Cite the best web sites in the journal and tell why they will be useful for your topic.

Adapted from Memorial University Libraries Ideas for Library/Information Assignments, Memorial University of Newfoundland, (c)2004.


Confused about keeping a research journal?  Ask a librarian for help at the Research Support Desk (251-6111).

Page updated 8/13/2013. 
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