Research Guide to the Major

Brief Description: This assignment asks students to evaluate major library and Internet resources in their fields for an audience of other students who are new to the field.

Contributed by Todd Preston, Pennsylvania State University

Research Guide to the Major
Todd Preston, Bloomsburg University


Describe major library and Internet resources in your field for an audience of other students who are new to the field. Organize and format this information so that other students can use the university library and internet efficiently for research by following your guide.


To become familiar with specific good resources used by professionals in your field; to identify possible sources of information for further study within your discipline; to make decisions about organization, format and style as a means of creating a usable document for readers; to develop skills with writing abstracts.

Resources to Identify in the Guide
A. Library Resources

1. Identify at least one electronic index to the periodical literature in your major or specialty.

2. Identify resources in your sub-field from three of the following six print categories, or propose an additional relevant category to me:
specialized dictionary;
biographical reference;
subject-guide to the literature;

3. Identify two professional journals in your field.

4. Locate one style guide or publication manual for your field/area. Include pages illustrating the appropriate documentation style for a periodical article, a book, and for an electronic resource.

B. Internet Resources

Identify Internet sites that are relevant to your area. You must include a source which has sample reports/documents/research studies in your field.
In addition, choose at least four from the following categories of Intemet/Web information, including one of the three starred categories (or propose other relevant categories of information to me):
national / regional professional organizations;
directories of information sources;
government documents;
* web-based journals;
educational programs / institutions;
* field-specific news services;
potential employers and/or job search services;
* discussion groups, chat rooms

Information to Include about the Resources

For each resource that you identify, provide identifying information (title, call number, location, URL {uniform resource locator, i.e. web address] etc.) in the documentation style most frequently used in your field.

Also describe the resource in an abstract so that readers will understand its specific strengths and uses. (For example, your paragraph on the index should tell both the purpose of the index and the range and dates of periodicals covered.) In writing the abstracts, assume readers will ask at least these four questions: What is this? What is in it (contents and scope)? How is that information relevant and useful for someone in my field? How can I use the resource efficiently?

Front Matter

Provide information about your guide and its use in a brief introduction. In this front matter, include: a table of contents with at least two levels; who the guide is for (audience/purpose); what the guide assumes users know; how the guide is organized for use; any tips for using the guide. Also, very briefly (one paragraph) introduce each section if readers will not understand why and how to use a type of resource.