Landing : Athabascau University

Week 11: The Library is Your Friend

I remember my first-year undergrad history course where the professor said it was time to “baptize us by fire” by forcing us to learn how to use a library to find resources. A fifty-question scavenger hunt where we had to find very specific books, articles, and journals that also required that we explain the methodology we used to find those items. The key to this was that we were not allowed to us Google, we needed to learn how to use the library by using the library. Have you ever cried in a library while trying to navigate through microfiche? I have and it wasn’t fun. Yet somehow, I decided to go into library science and took multiple courses on reference questions and the methodology behind it. I don’t claim to be an expert researcher, but I do know that no one can just enter a broad term like “academic writing” into a keyword search and then evaluate 150,000 plus resources that generate. The idea of research methodology is also not “broad” explaining how you found something and chose it is more than just “I searched for it, I used Boolean terms, and I liked it.” That makes it next to impossible to replicate that methodology.

When we look at Google searches and using the internet to find resources, we must be very critical of everything we find. We can also add limiters in an internet search, but not everything we find will be of an academic nature. What is the purpose of this information, who wrote it and when, are good questions to ask to determine whether a resource found on the internet is relevant to your research topic? I prefer to use Google searches to lead me to Archives Canada, or government run pages to find certain answers to questions.  Or in some cases I use Google to “trouble shoot” my idea and to see what is out there on the web. It doesn’t mean that I will be using those sources though. I also find many people struggle between research and confirmation bias. I can type into a search engine anything I want, for example “the world is only 100 years old” and I will likely find others who agree with this, and if that is my theory, I am not confirming my bias.

One thing I need to work on is slowing down my research methodology and taking notes for this assignment. I do so many references style searches that I generally can-do advanced searches with my eyes closed. That doesn’t mean my methodology is perfect, or that it can be replicated if I poorly articulate how I found things.


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