The final question we asked in our end-of-quarter survey of Stanford freshmen was:
What advice would you give about conducting research to future Stanford freshmen?
The students gave a range of kinds of advice, but the most popular topic was the library, with 32% of students mentioning “library” or “librarians”:
“I would advise them that the library is a great place to find sources and that they should not only limit their research to online sources.”
“ask the librarians! they know everything there is to know.”
“Stanford’s libraries can be very overwhelming and intimidating to search as a freshman and librarians really make things simpler and clearer.”
30% of students mentioned “sources” or “resources” in their advice:
“Try to find varied sources in order to give your research more depth.”
“Look into many different resources, such as books, scientific journals, magazines, etc.”
“Don’t be afraid. All the resources are here for the students to use.”
Starting “early” was the advice that 19% of students had for future freshmen:
“Be specific in your topic, and start doing research early.”
“Do it early and often!!!!”
15% of students gave advice about “books”, and another 15% gave advice about “databases”:
“Look at the books next to the one you’re searching for in Stacks.”
“I would tell them to not be afraid to go deep in the stacks, because the books are very helpful.”
“borrow a lot of books from the library”
“I would advise the student to try different databases so they can get a range of analytical, psychological, societal, etc views on their topic.”
In addition to using these data as heart-warming evidence of the success of Our Information Literacy program, I try to actually pass the advice on to future students in 2 ways:
- I weave quotes from the survey into my information literacy sessions (including in my Research is like cooking analogy); and
- I periodically post a juicy quote from the survey on our Facebook page.
More results from these surveys at:
Library catalog and databases more useful than Google
What do students learn in Library workshops?