Libraries, research, and searching is all about evaluation....
Starting with Questions
There are billions of websites, alongside thousands of tweets, Facebook entries, and Instagrams—all spreading a steady stream of information and misinformation. As college students, expected to write college-level papers and responses, you are caught in the middle of it all. Is the information that you're finding on an author considered scholarly enough? Are the statistics on your topic from a reputable source?" Is the author really an authority in the field? These are questions that you'll need to answer before you select resources for your papers. Be forewarned that professors are experts in the subjects they teach, and therefore very suspicious of internet sites that often interpret and distort research. When it comes to searching, it's not about whether it's in print or online, it's about the quality of the material. The key in using any online resource is to think critically about it.
Writing papers goes hand-in-hand with college and there’s little doubt that the internet is a tempting place to go, we all go there to get a basic feel for a topic that we are unfamiliar with. In the midst of great web sources are questionable sites, irrational comments from self-proclaimed experts, and convincing hoaxes and scams. The deeply tangled and sometimes warped web has many layers worth exploring.
For information on who lives where and how much they make, there is no site better than the American Fact Finder which is based on census data. There are also many subject-specific sites, such as the National Institute of Health(NIH) for medical issues that are sponsored with government funding; and ERIC which is recommended for education topics. Major news sources are also worth exploring such as CNN News and the New York Times.
The UCONN Library website is created to support research by students and faculty. It is designed as a gateway to hundreds of databases that provide free access to thousands of articles and hundreds of ebooks. There is a definite learning curve for using library databases, but the end result is that you’ll begin to discover resources specifically geared for your papers.
To GET A HEADS UP ON RESEARCH:
- Review the Libraries Research Quick Start <http://classguides.lib.uconn.edu/research>
- Get a sense of what academic research looks like, try the RADAR Challenge <http://electra.lmu.edu/TheRadarGame/story.html>
- Watch the video below...
WHAT ARE LIBRARY DATABASES?
Print out, complete, and bring to class the FYE Evaluation Worksheet. (Fall FYE classes: 30 points). As you complete it, consider the following:
How current is the information? Are there many links that don’t work, does it seem dated?
Does the information address your research questions in an academic way or is it geared at a general audience?
Is the information written by an expert in the field and supported by evidence or by someone who seems to want to share information?
Is the link sponsored by a reputable organization or institution ( .edu, .gov, etc) or a commercial one (.com)?