Volunteer assignment:

Reference research


Purpose of this assignment

All courses must have a bibliography of references on which the course teaching is founded. This bibliography must include readings that support, confirm, prove, illustrate and enhance the text of each chapter. But some of the cited material should also challenge, put into question, offer alternatives or present laws or practice of different regions. Such list of readings is very different from what can be obtained from a search engine where millions of results are irrelevant and make it difficult to isolate what is meaningful. Creating useful and focused readings lists is what this assignment is about.

Types of reading material

Many different material can be useful for a student to read:

- textbooks
- books of more general nature
- reviewed journal articles
- newspaper/magazine articles
- government publications
- international organization publications
- laws, statutes or regulations
- court case decisions
- research papers
- empirical data
- online unversity course lectures
- online articles
- wiki entries
- blog entries
- other (such as illustrations, or video and audio segments)

As you can tell, some to these can be found on the internet, and a link to them is sufficient. Others, such as research papers can be uploaded. Whereas still others such as textbooks, can only be found in a library. Some can illustrate just a single concept of a course, whereas others, such as textbooks, can cover more ground than even PEOI's entire course. An important distinction is based on whether the material is copyrighted, or is, on the contrary, open content available for anyone to redistribute. Of course only open content can be uploaded to PEOI's server. All these different elements must be included in the information about each reading material. But even all the required information may not be enough to tell what any reading material contains. This is why readings should be annotated by those who post them so that a student can quickly see what to expect in each reading item.

Where to conduct your research? The most important bibliographical sources are major textbooks on the subject, from which each of the references that is relevant to a chapter must be transcribed to the readings list of PEOI's course. Online search engines are an obvious choice, but search engine results usually include a abundance of irrelevant and useless links. Picking the rare links that are meaningful is the core of readings research. Less obvious are websites of major universities that offer open courseware. Traditional library search is also a must, with organized topical indexes excellent sources of well focused materials. Remember that PEOI's students may not have access to a library, and that makes it all the more imperative to give them an idea of the physical publications on which the chapter text is founded. Remember also that you must read through the material that you list as reading 1) to make sure that it is what its title suggests, 2) to formulate the few sentences that describe the material and that you should place in annotation, and 3) to use the bibliography of that material to deepen your research further.

What you will be asked to do

It is best for you to conduct your reference research on a subject that you know well. If PEOI does not have a course for that subject, PEOI will be more than happy to set one up for you because starting a course is often the best way to attract a team of author; moreover, your research may reveal open education sources that authors can readily import. Whether the course exists or is newly set up, all readings, references and citations must go into a data bank with detailed information and annotation. From the data bank, they are inserted into readings sections for each of a course chapters. Being in the data bank of a course, they can also be brought in as a basis for various assignments, cases or test questions.

Creating the readings data bank is done with PEOI's "List readings" procedure which is best accessed after logging in as author volunteer on PEOI's course management platform, and you must be registered for that purpose.


Please bring your skills to help millions of disadvantaged students all over the world, who do not have access to traditional education because of where they live, time constraints or insufficient income. Thank you for your interest.

All tasks can be carried out from home on your own computer and at your own time. Volunteers can join in forum discussions of issues of common interest. Registration is necessary to carry out all tasks and to participate in a forum.

For more details, please write a short message indicating the project you are interested in supervising, attach a recent resume demonstrating your ability to carry out the task, and email to John Petroff listed in contact information.