Doing Research: An Introduction to the Concepts of Online Searching

This animated, interactive tutorial  introduces students to online searching. Sections include: 1) Using the search term “AND”, 2) Identifying keywords, 3) Thinking of synonyms and related terms, 4) Examining a citation, and 5) Putting it all together. Features interactive drag and drop “games” with immediate feedback.

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Strengths

The interactive nature of this tutorial hopefully reinforces understanding and reinforcement of material. It is not overtly university branded, so it could be easily adaptable for local needs.

Concerns

None

Recommendations for use

SC or 100 level students.

Reading Strategies for Scholarly Articles

This video tutorial introduces strategies for reading a scholarly article. In addition, the tutorial briefly explains the peer review process, and describes the sections of typical research articles.

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Strengths

The tutorial clearly explains how to approach a research article making the process less intimidating for students. There is a short quiz at the end to test understanding.

Concerns

Adobe flash must be working in order for the tutorial to work.

Recommendations for Use

Students can view the tutorial on their own prior to locating scholarly/peer reviewed articles on their research topic.

Understanding Citations

This video explains in text citations, footnotes and endnotes. It also teaches the parts of book, book chapter and journal citations. It uses MLA style in the examples but mentions the other styles. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

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Strengths

The tutorial contains a quiz to test your understanding of citations.

Concerns

The tutorial contains an additional resources section that refers to resources specific to the University of Texas at Austin.

Recommendations for Use

Many students have trouble identifying the source of a citation. Is this a book chapter or a journal article? Students could view this video on their own prior to starting a research assignment.

Plagiarism Tutorial

This 10 question quiz tests students’ knowledge of plagiarism “gray areas”. The module provides immediate feedback with the option to send quiz results to any email address.

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Strengths

This provides immediate feedback about whether or not the sample writing statement cites sources correctly, paraphrases adequately, and what could have been done instead. At the end you are asked to provide 3 “best practices” and are given the option to email your results to an instructor.

Concerns

None

Recommendations for use

This is not meant to teach the rules of citations, paraphrasing and plagiarism – this is a quiz to reinforce those ideas once they have been discovered elsewhere. This would be good as a refresher for upper level students, or after an introduction for lower level students.

How Well Do You Understand and Use Information – Quiz

This quiz covers the evaluation of information sources, best citation practices, and copyright/fair use issues. The quiz provides immediate feedback for students explaining why the correct answer is correct.

Note: The first two quiz slides are specific to the developing library. “Search Skills” begins on the third slide.

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Strengths

The quiz provides a scenario, then asks the student to choose the correct answer for each question.

Concerns

Once you understand how to use it, its very easy to use. However, there are no directions included, so there is some chance of initial confusion/frustration. This is a timed quiz – the question slides will pop up after the slide timer reaches a certain time. I would advise students to be patient and let the timer run its course rather than trying to jump ahead.

Recommendations

Lower level undergraduate.

Searching 101

This tutorial explains how to pick a main topic, identify related search terms, and use Boolean logic for combining terms. The site includes several short, multiple choice checkpoints to reinforce key ideas.

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Strengths

Short, gets to the point, has checkpoint quizzes to reinforce ideas. The material on Boolean structure for combining search terms is good.

Concerns

Could skip the introductory video.

Recommendations for use

Best to assign this for students to do on their own.

Selecting Good Information

This tutorial explains how to categorize resources by, publication type and modes, by the authors’ level of expertise, and by the intended purpose. The tutorial includes text, video, and links.

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Strengths

Provides a very detailed break down of categories of information in many different ways.

Concerns

None.

Recommendations for use

May be assigned for students to work on their own. Includes material worth discussing in class.

How to READ a scientific paper

This tutorial explains each section of a scientific paper, the best order in which to read them, and how.

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Strengths

Useful to help novice students approach a scientific paper for the first time.

Recommendations for use

Use in science seminar and research courses.

Research 101 (or, How to write a college-level research paper)

This website explains how to choose research topic, and how to choose, evaluate and cite sources. A “Quiz Yourself” feature is included after each topic.

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Strengths

This resource provides a good overview for writing a college research paper aimed at  younger college writers. Each major topic page has a “More Resources” box with links to additional resources for more depth. Includes multiple choice section quizzes and a final test.

Concerns

A very small section regarding some kinds of searching is specific to the library hosting the site.

Recommendations for use

This would be an excellent overview resource for students in SC101 and lower-level writing courses, though upper level students trying to narrow a research topic will also find help here. This material can be assigned for students to complete (along with quizzes) on their own time. Because it is easy to move through the material, instructors can easily use it to review highlights in class.

Big Picture Information Literacy Tutorials

Nine videos cover various topics such as selecting a research topic, peer review, evaluating resources, and Wikipedia. The videos are brief but provide good information and they are generic so they can be easily used by anyone. I especially like the video on Wikipedia. It explains how the content is created and discusses the pros and cons of using Wikipedia.

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Strengths

Easy to use and very general. Short and to the point. They do not mention products specific to a particular library.

Recommendations for use

Have students view the videos on their own prior to discussing the topic in class. Faculty could ask students to verify the accuracy of the Wikipedia content using other sources. They could also expand on the content.