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October 14, 2013

ENG102 Research Assignment – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Back in January I blogged about the research assignments I use in my ENG102 course. I call these assignments Odyssey assignments to put emphasis on their importance. You can read more about that in the first assignment: Odyssey I. I thought it would be a nice addition to share the assignments too. So if you haven’t done so, revisit the first post and then come back and view the assignments.

We do this assignment in Week 10, and prior to doing the assignments students are instructed to view the following lessons: Reference Sources (but I haven’t created it yet), so they read these handouts:

Assignment #9 – Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources

Instructional Objectives

In this assignment students will:

  1. refine strategies for understanding and evaluating sources,
  2. refine strategies for searching library catalog systems for reference sources, and
  3. practice note taking skills by writing paraphrases, summaries and quoting sources.

How do I find reference sources using the Library Catalog?

The Library Catalog contains records for both print and online reference sources. Below are some suggestions which will help you locate reference materials when you search the Library Catalog. Since we have already searched online sources. This assignment will focus only on reference sources housed in a physical library.

Tips for Finding Specific Types of Reference Sources

Click on the handout to access this material. Inside are some suggestions for locating specific types of reference sources based on Library of Congress Subject Headings.

  • Almanacs and Factbooks
  • Atlases and Gazetteers
  • Biographical Sources
  • Book Reviews
  • Catalogs
  • Citation Manuals
  • Dictionaries (English)
  • Dictionaries (Non-English)
  • Dictionaries (Subject Specific)
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Quotations
  • Thesauri

Assignment #9 Instructions

After you have read the handout on Finding Reference Sources Using the Library Catalog, grab the  Library of Congress Classification Outline handout to use as a guide. You can also get the handout in the GCC library. You MUST visit a local library to do this assignment. NO ONLINE sources can be used for Part I of this assignment. Using the four basic types of reference works: almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and quotation books, complete the following instructions:


  • Write two questions for each reference source that can be answered using that source.
  • Locate a source for each of the four different reference source type and answer your 8 questions.
  • Record the bibliography information for each source. Remember these are hard copy sources; no online materials.
  • Write a paragraph explaining how each of the four reference sources can be useful in the research process. What are the drawbacks of using such sources? Be specific about your comments. Explain where you could possibly use this type of information in your paper and for what purpose.


  • Using a reference source, locate and identify a statistical source of information that relates to your topic. You may also use the Facts on File database online for this part of the assignment. You can find it in the Articles & Databases area of the library website in the Issues and Controversies database. UPDATE: After you log in with your MEID, you may be presented with a second log in. Ignore this log in, close the page, and come back and click this link again. You should then be able to get into the database. Weird, but it works.
  • Record the bibliography information for this source.
  • Summarize the statistics (Don’t just copy it) and relate it to your subject or topic. Write out the facts or summarize the graph. Explain how you could use this information in your essay?
  • Identify who issues this information (may not match the publisher)? If unknown, explain complications of not being able to find this information. Why is that bad? Explain where you looked?
  • Could this issuer have a bias that might influence its presentation of the information? Don’t just answer yes or no, briefly explain why. How would that change your opinion and use of this information?

You do NOT need a complete working bibliography for this assignment.

Example Assignment #9



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Assignment Odyssey V: Locating Reference Sources by Dr. Alisa Cooper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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