Academic research – beyond Google?


The online peer-reviewed journal First Monday  has an interesting article by Alison J. Head entitled Beyond Google: how do students conduct academic research?

This “insider’s view of the student’s research process” emerges from research conducted by librarians at Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC) and aims to take a detailed look a the conceptualization and practical conducting of research, as well as the “barriers students encounter while conducting course-related research”.

This is definitely an interesting study, though with a sample of only 13 students studied (in a college of nearly 4000) some may question how representative the results actually are.  Practicalities of the research methods almost certainly restricted the numbers participating, and these kinds of logistics are often a very limiting factor.  However,  I’d be interested to know if a much larger sample (say 10 times the size) would produce similar results.

Hat-tip to iLibrarian for highlighting this article.


What’s in a name?

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Ok, so I wanted to start a blog for the library service that I run, in order to keep my key stakeholders up-to-date with what’s going on and what’s new.  One slight problem however… the clamour of “No, no, no, we can’t possible have a blog [emphasis = sound of disgust]… no-one would want to look at that!” coming from the group of practitioners that I informally put the idea to.  However, when asked if they would like regular updates on new library developments that can be delivered straight to them with little effort or fuss… “oh, that’s a great idea – we’d really find that useful!!”.

*Rolls eyes*

Two things can be learned from this little escapade:

  1. Names can be daunting and indeed off-putting, depending on your target audience.  Research that audience closely and carefully before suggesting any new services, for what you provide may be what they want (or need) but what you call it may make your users run for the hills!
  2. I need to give my target audience some gentle instruction on RSS… what it is, how useful it can be, and how easy it is to use.

I feel an article in my organisation’s newsletter coming on!