There is a great discussion going on at the ACRLog about Explaining Authority to students.
The blog post and the comments generally acknowledgment:
1. That the equation Library = Authoritative & Not-Library = Not Authoritative is no longer valid (if it ever was); and
2. That authority may not even be the right metric.
I think librarians are in a unique position to teach students how to evaluate resources so they can select the best resources for the job at hand. One metaphor I have been thinking about using in explaing the evaluation process is that of a journalist and their sources. For some parts of the article (e.g. facts, expert opinion), you want to make sure the source is credible and authoritative, and sticking to standard academic sources is smart. For some parts of the article (illustrative quotes, opinions), a “man on the street” quote might be best, so websites, blogs, even tweets might be a good source.
The bottom line is that judging whether a particular resource is appropriate for the job at hand usually requires reading the resource and exercising judgement. And good scholarly judgment comes from reading lots of stuff, and takes time to develop.
See also: What if libraries stopped selecting?
Another interesting topic being discussed at scatterplot:
I’ve noticed a phenomenon I don’t remember from prior seminars. I’m naming it “drive by citations.” These are, essentially, references to a work that make a very quick appearance, extract a very small, specific point from the work, and move on without really considering the existence or depth of connection between the student’s work and the cited work… I’m wondering if this is the result of the increasing availability of online resources like Google Scholar and such, which make it easy to find and cite materials without spending much time considering them.
It is my concern for exactly this kind of phenomenon that makes me leery of this tip from Google Books:
Need 5 sources for your paper at 3am?
Can’t remember where you found that quote? Did someone grab the last copy of the book you needed from the library? Google Book Search can help!
I’m a fan of Google Books, Google Scholar, and in general of increasing online discovery and access to scholarly resources. BUT, I don’t think we want to encourage students to wait until 3am to find 5 sources for their papers. And now that we have the technical ability to search full-text to find small, sometimes out-of-context, quotes and citations to use; it is even more important that educators teach students good research habits, critical reading skills, and good citation practices. I can imagine actually warning students against using drive by citations by giving them a few good (bad) examples, then telling them that they will lose points if they use any drive by citations in their papers.
The Association of Research Libraries has a very helpful free brochure for Faculty and TAs called Know Your Copy Rights—What You Can Do. Libraries can print and brand the brochure for distribution and use on their own campus.
I also recently discovered the Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog. A recent post uses the example of Death Cab for Cutie being sued for posting a youtube video of their own performance on their website to warn scholars that they may not have the right to post their own published works on their personal websites.
Stanford hosts a Copyright & Fair Use site, with links to all kinds of helpful stuff. Of particular interest is this interview with Kenneth Crews, who prepared the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives for its Seventeenth Session in Geneva, November 3 to 7, 2008.
Published October 14, 2008
Tags: teaching, technology
The 21st-Century Campus: Are We There Yet? is an interesting report based on an online survey of 401 college students, 305 faculty, and 301 IT executives.
39% of students want the ability to chat with professors, which seems easy enough. The follow-up question that was not asked is “When do you want to chat with your professors?” While there is evidence that students will use IM during regular office hours, I imagine they would really like to be able to IM their professor at 2am the night (morning) before a paper is due.
One other dubious “finding” is that “Even professors who have access to technology in every class do not use it in every class.” I’m not convinced that using technology in every class is de facto a good thing. When the use of technology contribute to or enables class goals, then use it. But let’s not use technology just to say we did. My experience is that a low-tech class discussion can often be a very effective classroom strategy.