Course Outline

Course Description

Preparation for a senior thesis, capstone, or honors project that requires a serious research component. Students will work one-on-one with a Subject Specialist in the Library to prepare the groundwork for an intensive academic project within their major. Students will be instructed in the organization of information and in sophisticated search strategies for finding, evaluating, and using information. A critical annotated bibliography is required, as well as a strategy for acquiring materials needed for the final project. Students must obtain approval from their academic advisor. Permission of the Library faculty member is required.

Course Objectives and Learning Goals

Students work one-on-one with a subject librarian to:

  • prepare for an intensive academic research project
  • create realistic project timeline and benchmarks
  • implement disciplinary research methods & tools
  • identify seminal authors/resources
  • develop skills for finding, evaluating, and using information
  • formulate strategies for acquiring  materials as needed
  • produce a critical annotated bibliography  of 25+ sources

Course Outline

A. Topic Formulation – get organized

i.    What do you know, what do you want or need to know about the topic?
ii.   Browse databases/journals for inspiration
iii.  Keep a research journal/log: should include your database/search engine, search queries, printed results lists, and notes/comments on the research process (see Research Log)

B. Develop Thesis Question – get focused

i.   Identify appropriate subject headings
ii.  Develop search strategy (identify key databases & journals, terms, people/authors, organizations, etc.)

C. Meet with project advisor to:

i.   Review topic/thesis question
ii.  Determine bibliographic citation style (MLA, APA, or Chicago, etc)

D. Literature Review

i.   Authors, seminal
ii.  Citation indexing/mining (times cited/cited by)

E. Gather Information

      i. Print
      ii.  Electronic
      iii. ILL –  ILLIAD
      iv. Primary Sources –Archives/Museums/Other libraries
      v.  Purchase on Demand acquisitions

F. Support Services

i.  Student Opportunity Funds
ii.  Library carrel
iii. Skidmore Writing Center
iv. Extended library loan periods – Circluation

G. Prepare thesis/capstone outline

i.   Appropriate sources to support paper
ii.  What’s missing?

H. Draft the Annotated Bibliography - Writing an Annotated Bibliography

i.   Appropriate organization
ii.  Citation format - RefWorks
iii. Critical annotations – evaluate sources
iv. Variety of resources
v.  Substantial number of sources (usually a minimum of 25 citations)
vi. Sophisticated, scholarly sources

I. Meet with project advisor- Review Annotated Bibliography

J. Complete the Annotated Bibliography: Due: Fall –Thanksgiving / Spring- April 15th

i.  Review quality
ii. Meet ethical information standards


Grade based on:

  • Annotated Bibliography = 50%
  • Meeting Attendance/Participation = 20%
  • Research Journal = 20%
  • Outline = 10%

Students are expected to meet their obligations for the course in a timely and courteous manner. Adherence to the Skidmore Honor code is required for satisfactory completion of the course. See "Ethics of Scholarship"

Grades will be given according to the following standard:

Grade         Range   

Grade         Range   

A+               97-100

A                 93-96

A-                90-92

B+              87-89

B                 83-86

B-               80-82

C+              77-79

C                73-76

C-               70-72

D+              67-69

D                65-66

F                 0-64

Time Frame

  • Meet a minimum of six or seven times during the semester.
  • Annotated Bibliography is due by Thanksgiving or April 15 - unless another date is approved.
  • Within 3 weeks of initial session student should be prepared to submit a draft of three annotated sources.
  • The research journal will be submitted for review on a periodic basis, preferably every two weeks.
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