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SWK 256

To Google or Not to Google

You know how to use Google and that's great. 

  • And yet, instructors want you to learn how to conduct academic research. This is why you are given project/paper/presentation instructions that require a certain number and a certain type of source.
  • Knowing how to research in a critical way will help you in school and throughout your entire life.
  • But, research is complicated.
  • In fact, performing real academic research is complicated and there's a lot of obstacles holding us back from finding the best information available on any given topic. 

Research Obstacles

Obstacles When Performing Research

  1. All information (even information found when Googling!) is created by humans. Humans have biases.
    Remember that people also have agendas. Sometimes these agendas are good, sometimes they are self-serving, other times the agendas include attempts to sell products &/or services.
    People with biases decide who has authority and people with authority have biases.

  2. Academic and scientific publishing doubles every 9 years.
     Meaning - there's a lot out there.

  3. Research isn't created to be found.
    Researchers generally don't publish their own work. 
    Even though the researchers know their own work best, they aren't always the ones assigning keywords or subject terms to help searchers find their research in databases or online after publication.

  4. Academic publishing is a billion dollar industry.
    Chances are, one of your instructors has published a paper in his/her field of expertise.
    Would you consider that paper a credible source?
    Current publishing practices dictate that the publisher takes over the rights of a paper for publication. The publisher will then charge the author if he or she wants to re-use it and charge a library if they want to provide access to it.

What do we do?

  • Step #1:  Be aware of the above issues.
  • Step #2: We can work together. Librarians and instructors can help you find quality information.
  • Step #3: Recognize that conducting research is a skill to be developed. You will improve with practice.