This article from Inside HigherEd written by Mary George, a librarian at Princeton, contains a couple of jewels which we librarians here all the time at the reference desks--from students at all levels first year to grad student and all disciplines from engineering to the humanities. Here are a few of my favorites:
* I’m confused about the difference between a primary and a secondary source.
* I’m afraid I’ll be cheating if I take references from someone else’s bibliography.
* This journal/magazine isn’t digitized, so I guess we don’t have it and I can’t get it.
I also like the questions George starts the story with:
* When professors assign a library project to undergraduates, just what do they expect students to learn from the research part of the experience?
* What do professors think students are doing to come up with the sources in their papers?
* If there is a discrepancy between pedagogical intent and actual student research behavior, how do faculty members address it?
* Or do they care, especially since they may not spot a student’s research problem until the end of a course and may well not see that student again?
* Does the end of a well-written, well-supported argument justify whatever means a student uses to acquire sources?"
These sort of real life confessions should help to convince instructors both in first year writing and across campus the need to teach, re-teach and reinforce research skills.