Search: March 2012 Archives

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Google-Trained Minds Can't Deal with Terrible Research Database UI from the Atlantic by Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College

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"Not long ago I was using a research database to try to get a PDF of an article published in a journal to which my college's library has a digital subscription. I knew the title of the article, the author's name, the title of the journal, and the issue date. I plugged all those in to the appropriate text boxes, clicked "search" . . . and got hundreds of results. But the one that I wanted wasn't on the first several pages.

I sent an email to a reference librarian describing this event, and he wrote back saying, "Oh, see, you should have entered the journal's ISSN." Really? Exact title of article and journal, exact name of author, exact date of publication -- that's not enough?"


"There's no question that students' search skills are generally quite poor, and need to get better, but to some extent we've all had our search habits trained by Google's algorithms, which in most cases -- though by no means all -- are quite effective."


"So maybe our greater emphasis shouldn't be on training users to work with bad search tools, but to improve the search tools. Especially since serious research questions aren't as afflicted by spammy
SEO as many other queries, by this point in the development of online life we ought to be doing a lot better than we are."

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This page is an archive of entries in the Search category from March 2012.

Search: June 2011 is the previous archive.

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