Undergraduate Research: November 2010 Archives

Musings on G.S.

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Two items that have me thinking about Google Scholar:google_scholar.jpg

"Our problem doesn't lie so much with Google and Google Scholar so much as it does with our students' information literacy levels. Do they have a sense of their subject matter? Do they have an understanding of the different places in which they can research? Do they know how to brainstorm, how to tie loose ends together into an argument, and how and where to find evidence to support it? If we decide to focus only on the students' poor use of Google Scholar, then we're treating the symptom as opposed to its cause, which are information seeking skills and research methods that haven't been fully developed. We shouldn't blame the student if the only search strategy she's ever known is to type a few key words into a Google search bar and then troll through results, because the difference between research and good research is instruction, practice, and experience." 

 I like this idea of "information seeking skills and research methods that haven't been fully developed". This seems to be a much better way of thinking of students skills levels instead of has them or doesn't have them. We can only hope students continue to develop these skills throughout University and beyond... 

 2.) Search engines and the production of academic knowledgeresearch_blogging_icon.jpg 
José van Dijck 
November 2010; 13 (6) 

"This article argues that search engines in general, and Google Scholar in particular, have become significant co-producers of academic knowledge. Knowledge is not simply conveyed to users, but is co-produced by search engines' ranking systems and profiling systems, none of which are open to the rules of transparency, relevance and privacy in a manner known from library scholarship in the public domain. Inexperienced users tend to trust proprietary engines as neutral mediators of knowledge and a

Here's the conversation I like to imagine between these two guys.  "Hey how do you tell whether or not an article comes from a refereed, peer-review journal."  (Ref 1) "Uh...Ulrichs?"  (Ref 2).

This very question has been coming to me a lot recently since one of the big freshman seminars I work with requires that for the big research project of the semester that the centerpiece be a peer-reviewed scholarly journal article.

The students seem to have a pretty firm understanding of whether the article that they are looking it presents a scholarly experiment, but when it comes to whether it's peer-reviewed I'm sensing more uncertainty (this "sense" comes directly from my email inbox).

The professor for the class asked me come up with a quick email or handout that he could forward on to students and this is what I came up with:

 Here are some ways to determine whether the article that you've found has been peer reviewed.

 1.  Google the name of the journal and find the journal's web page.  On the "about us" page it will sometimes say "peer-reviewed" or you can look at the "information for authors" that will usually detail what process a manuscript must go through to be published.  If it mentions a review process or sending to reviewers you're set.

 2.  Check it in Ullrich's (http://www.lib.umn.edu/get/2516) this is a library database that gives information on journals.  Just search the title of the journal and in the results page if the journal you're looking for has a referee's jersey icon (black and white striped shirt) next to it, it means its peer-reviewed.

 Most of the journal articles that recount a research experiment in Engineering Village should probably be peer-reviewed.  It is important to note that some peer-reviewed journals also include letters and editorials that are not peer-reviewed.  So make sure the articles are experimental research articles (detailing an experiment's methodology and findings) and not one of these other types of article.

Does anyone else out there in the LIbraries have another method that they teach?  I'd like to make something more polished and formal to share with students next time and would like to provide students with the best methods possible--so if you have a way of teaching this information I'd be interested to hear it!

Images from Jeffrey Simms Photography via Flickr. CC

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This page is an archive of entries in the Undergraduate Research category from November 2010.

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