Examples of Final Projects

Your librarians offer the following ideas for final projects that each incorporate various important elements of information literacy directly from our teaching modules. Most of these projects can be adapted to any subject or class.


  • Annotated Bibliography Project
  • Science Biography Project
  • Research a Controversial Issue
  • Review of a Music Performance
  • Literature Review Update
  • Poster Session

Annotated Bibliography Project

Objectives: Students will identify locate, cite and annotate at least 3 books, 5 scholarly articles and 2 interntet sites on a pre-approved topic.

Suggested Prerequisite Modules:

  • Finding Books
  • Locating Journal Articles
  • Using Scholarly Databases
  • Evaluating Websites
  • Writing Citations


Write an annotated bibliography in the Chicago style that includes at least:

  • Three books
  • Five articles from at least three different scholarly journal
  • Two internet sites
  • An annotated bibliography is a list of books, articles, and other documents consisting of a citation followed by a brief evaluation of each work listed. An annotated bibliography, like any list of works cited, should be presented in alphabetical order by author's last name.

The annotation is a critical statement about the work and its author. It is not a summary or an opinion of how “good” it is. The annotation should answer most, if not all, of these questions:

  • Who is the author and what are the his/her credentials or authority on this topic?
  • What is the author's thesis statement, or what research question is the author trying to answer? What main points does the author address in support of that thesis? (In books you can figure this out by reading the introduction and conclusion.)
  • What is the focus and scope of the item? Is it generalized or does it focus on a specific topic or idea?
  • How does the content of this item compare or contrast with the other items on your list? What makes it unique? Be specific and use examples.
  • Would you use this work to write a research paper on this topic and why?

Additional requirements for this assignment:

  • List your topic.
  • List the source of each item. Did you find the item in the library catalog, a particular database, through Google, etc.?
  • Explain how you found each item. What keywords did you use to search for the item and how far down the list did you have to look to find it?

Example of a citation with an annotation for a journal article:

Feit, Edward. “Community in a Quandary: The South African Jewish Community and 'Apartheid.’” Race 8, no. 4 (1967): 395-408.

Feit’s now dated article discusses the dilemma of Jews in South Africa in terms of its social, political, and moral dimensions. The author is critical of those who compare Jewish silence in South Africa with the complacency and silence of the Catholic Church in Nazi Germany. Furthermore, Feit contends that Jewish support for “African Liberation” organizations would make little sense. Feit concludes by emphasizing the dilemma confronting the Jews in deciding between “Material” and “Moral” priorities. This article would help in a research paper because it deals with the history of race relations in South Africa beyond the “black vs. white” issues, which are normally the focus.

Science Biography Project

(Adapted from David Crouch’s 2005 first-year seminar project on nanotechnology.)

Objectives: Students will identify, locate, retrieve at least one primary and four secondary sources related to scientist currently engaging in nanotechnology. Students will synthesize the information into a biographical study of the scientist.

Suggested Prerequisite Modules:

  • Locating Journal Articles
  • Using Scholarly Databases
  • Primary v. Secondary

One of the great challenges for scientists is communicating the results of their work to the general public. Unfortunately, chemistry and other sciences are filled with idiosyncratic language that accurately expresses research to others in the field but leaves those outside of the field feeling as though a foreign language is being used. In this assignment, you will select one area of research in a scientist’s lab and explain it in such a way that a person with no scientific training can understand.

Write a biographical study of a scientist that in at least 2000 words. Your biography should describe:

  • the scientist’s educational and professional background
  • the current work in which the scientist is engaging
  • the significance of his/her current work
  • any possible devices or innovations that may result from the successful completion of this person’s work, (i.e. explain the justification for this person’s work).

In order to accomplish this task, you should find and read primary materials written by your scientist. Your bibliography should include a minimum of five (5) sources. Of these five sources, you must include:

  • At least one primary resource/experiment written by your scientist and published in a scholarly journal.
  • At least one scholarly secondary source describing your scientist’s work. One magazine that may be helpful is Chemical & Engineering News.
  • Your scientist’s web site.

Select a scientist from the list below:

Timothy Swager, MIT Andrew Mayes, UEA
James Tour, Rice Robert Hamers, Wisconsin
Arthur Ellis, Wisconsin Jie Liu, Duke
Fraser Stoddart, UCLA James Landers, Virginia
James McDevitt, Texas Charles Lieber, Harvard
David Steytler, UEA Vicki Colvin, Rice
Thomas Beebe, Delaware George Flynn, Columbia
Heather Maynard, UCLA Lajos Balogh, Michigan
Timothy Glass, Missouri George Whitsides, Harvard
Christine Keating, Penn State Virgil Percec, Penn

Research a Controversial Issue

Objective: Students will compose an opinion paper include at least one opposing viewpoint and one source from a reference book or scholarly journal.

The CQ Researcher (or, in print, REF H35. C67) on the Reference shelves is a great place to get ideas for a controversial topic. Each issue provides various viewpoints, detailed background information, chronologies, and bibliographies. If you have trouble choosing a topic, ask the librarian for assistance.

Forming an opinion or argument (choose one approach):

  • Take a stance: be for or against something. For example, “marijuana should be legalized because…”
  • Argue the pros or cons of an issue. For example, “The death penalty deters crime by…”
  • Argue what should be done about an issue. For example,” the government should do more to lower Medicare drug costs by….”

Choosing pro/con sources: what to look for in a good pro/con source:

  • Date: if you are looking for recent facts and statistics, your source of information should be current. You may need to put your topic within a historical context, in which case older material will be suitable.
  • Biases: Is this a reliable source of information? What is the agenda of the author?
  • Level of Scholarship: the quality of your research is important when articulating and defending an opinion or argument.

For this assignment you will need to:

  1. Choose a controversial issue.
  2. Form an opinion or argument concerning your topic.
  3. Write a XX word paper that articulates your stance, supports your argument and explains the opposition’s viewpoint.
  4. Your bibliography should have at least 7 resources. Of these resources, you must include:
    • At least two (2) resources expressing an opposing viewpoint. 
    • At least five (5) scholarly source of information from a book or journal that support your viewpoint.

Suggested Topics:

  • Immigration Laws
  • Avian Flu Threat
  • Intelligent Design
  • Presidential Power
  • Future of Feminism
  • War on Iraq
  • Rebuilding New Orleans
  • Port Security
  • Stem Cell Research

Review of a Music Performance

Objectives: Students will write a performance review of a live concert. Students will incorporate library research into their review by locating, retrieving, and synthesizing at least one biographical source on the composer or performer, and one source discussing the historical context of the piece performed.

Suggested Modules:

  • Development of information
  • Finding Books (and CDs and videos)
  • Finding contemporary reviews of historic performances
  • Popular vs. scholarly (reviews of recordings and performances)
  • Using reference tools

Attend a concert on campus or conveniently nearby. Compose a concise but detailed review (750 to 1250 words) of the performance. If the concert consists of one piece, review the performance as a whole. If it consists of several pieces, briefly review the performance as a whole, and focus on one or two pieces in greater detail. Include:

  • Brief background on the composer and performer (dates, nationality, stylistic period)
  • The composition in the context of the composer’s works (date composed, origin of work)
  • At least two cited references to library resources (books or articles) relevant to the piece
  • Analysis and interpretation of the music (form, genre, sound, function of instruments/voices)
  • Interaction of music with other art forms (drama, text, dance, movement, staging, costumes)
  • The performance as a whole (beauty, accuracy, mood, clarity, expressiveness)
  • The performers overall, and/or selective critiques of individual performers

Optionally, and only if relevant to the performance, you may comment very briefly on extra-musical factors, such as:

  • The setting (the building, room, church, stage, outdoors)
  • The influence of time and place on the performance
  • The audience (number, ages, responsiveness, receptivity, attentiveness, reactions)
  • Cultural factors (language of sung or spoken text, religious significance, ethnicity)

Literature Review Update Project

Objectives: Students will write a literature review by using a variety of research tools to learn how the inforamtion about a particular topic evolves over time. Students will analyze, synthesize, and integrate the ideas from at least 10 scholarly sources.

Your assignment is to write an update of a review article that was written a number of years ago. In order to do this, you will select a research topic related to this course, find a review article on that topic written at least 10 years ago, research recent developments on the topic, and update the information presented in the original review article.

A literature review is a survey of scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue or area of research. A literature review provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work examined. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic. It is not a book review. A literature review should include the following components:

  • An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review;
  • Division of works under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative theses entirely);
  • Explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others;
  • Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research.

In order to complete this assignment successfully, you should:

  • Consult your professor on choosing an appropriate topic.
  • Use reference books or databases to identify one literature review article that is at least 10 years old.
  • Find at least ten (10) scholarly sources, including books and articles, tracing recent developments on your topic since the publication of the review article you found. These 10 sources should be cited in a stylistically correct bibliography and presented at the end of your paper.
  • Write a review article of no less than XX words that address the following questions:
    1. What is the research question that the original article addresses?
    2. How does the information reviewed in the original article compare and contrast with that in the more recent articles?
    3. What new major developments, information, or ideas evolved as the topic continued to be researched?
    4. How are the recent publications are related (How do they “talk” to each other? Do they agree or disagree on certain issues? Do they address the same issue from different perspectives? Which make the most convincing arguments and why?)
    5. Are the conclusions of the research discussed in the original review article significantly different from recent findings and how?

Poster Session Project

About Poster Sessions:
A poster session is a common form of scholarly communication at professional conferences. The researcher presents their research results in a visual display on a poster board. A poster session usually consists of a brief narrative paper, intermixed with tables, graphics, photos, and other visual aids. The researcher stands by their poster display at the assigned time slot while other conference participants can come, view the presentation, and interact with the author.

The Project:
Create a poster session on a topic of your choice, in addition to a 1500-word paper that includes a stylistically correct bibliography (or an annotated bibliography, depending on the faculty member’s preference).

1) learn one new form of scholarly communication;
2) synthesize at least 5 main points of a research project and present them succinctly.

What you need to do:
1) Consult with your professor on a possible research topic;
2) Find at least three books and at least five journal articles on the topic;
3) Write a 1500-word paper with a stylistically correct bibliography (or an annotated bibliography) to report your findings (see separate instruction on the specific requirements for the paper or annotated bibliography);
4) Present your findings in a poster session to your class. The poster should include:

  1. Your name and the title of your paper
  2. At least 5 of the main points of your research. Your main points may be accompanied by tables, graphics & photos. The presentation should be clear and easy for the reader to follow.
  3. A conclusion - a summation of main ideas as well as an indication of new interpretations or possible future research directions on the topic.
  4. A brief abstract (summary) of your research. The abstract should not attempt to explain in detail the content of your paper. It should just highlight some main points in the meaning and organization of the paper including the purpose of the paper, an outline of the organization of the paper, 1-2 major conclusions and some idea of significance of the work.
  5. At least 5 main points of your research. includes an introduction that gives some background of the subject, a series of well developed research results, accompanied by references. (Key references only. You should include the comprehensive list of all your references in your paper’s bibliography.)

For more ideas on creating an effective poster session, go to the following website (or Google “poster session”):

Developing a Poster Presentation