A common requirement for students writing research papers in college is a “laundry list” of sources (e.g., an academic journal article; a “popular” article from a magazine or newspaper; a book or book chapter; and a website) they must locate and use in the final paper. In our experience as reference and instruction librarians, students are prone to checking items off these types of lists without really understanding why they are doing so. Absent context, the list simply becomes mechanical and students put forth the minimum effort required to cross items off. We realized that the goal with these “laundry lists” is to encourage students to see new ways of doing research (i.e., besides using natural language searching in Google) and to begin to evaluate which of these options is best in a given situation. In order to make this a more authentic learning experience for them, we thought that it would be better to focus on the experiences (e.g., where/ how they search) rather than the items they needed to locate.
Margolin, Stephanie M. and Laleman Ward, Sarah, "10 Research Experiences: An Active and Applicable Alternative to the "Laundry List"" (2016). CUNY Academic Works.