You can help your students overcome this hurdle by making sure that they have selected a "good" topic - one that is nuanced, can be managed, and can effectively be researched. Work with your students to help them develop and choose good topics and research questions.
This worksheet activity can help students formulate a research topic:
Developing a search strategy can seem daunting, so we've developed two tutorials to lead your class through this stage of writing a research paper. Our first tutorial provides basic instructions on how to create an effective strategy, and the second explains when it might be best to rethink one's plan.
Once your students have formulated their research topics and planned their search strategies, they will need to determine the type of information and resources to substantiate their claims. The following three tutorials will help your class familiarize themselves with the types of sources they will be working with as they write their papers:
To set your students up for resource-search success, we recommend starting with our introductory tutorial on conducting library searches. Once your class has mastered the basics, they can practice using our advanced library search to find items based on the keywords they specify.
Your students may also be interested in learning how to find materials by type, or by following a citation trail. We also have several pages with information on citations, as well as a tutorial on citation mechanics and avoiding plagiarism.
See the box at the bottom of this page for a curated list comprised of a few of the 900+ databases searchable for University of Arizona students.
5.1. Evaluating Your Online Sources and Information
As an instructor, you should have already completed this online information credibility activity based on research from Stanford Universityon how experts determine source credibility.
It's crucial for your students to learn how to evaluate their sources' validity as well. Therefore, we have designed a tutorial to introduce students to strategies on evaluating information found online.
5.2. Evaluating Your Popular and Scholarly Sources
Our Information Literacy Activities page as well as the following two tutorials will help your class develop the necessary skills to evaluate popular and scholarly sources in addition to online information:
Arguably the most important skill for your students to take away from their undergraduate English Composition courses is how to cite properly and avoid plagiarism, both intentional and accidental, while completing their assignments.
Therefore, we've prepared two tutorials, one introductory, and one specifically on how to give credit to the ideas of others in various formats, as well as designed a number of activities, listed here under Citing & avoiding plagiarism, to further acquaint your students with this topic.
Identifying Useful Databases
Below, we have prepared detailed, but not exhaustive, lists for further reference of databases for students doing English Composition research.
In addition to searching specific databases based on the resource type needed, your students may also want to identify suitable databases based on discipline (Subject Guides), or specific topics (Topic Guides).
Note: Students attempting to access University of Arizona Libraries' databases and scholarly sources from off-campus locations may encounter certain hurdles. Please refer these students to the following instructional video.