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Student Use of the Internet for Research Projects: A Problem? Our Problem? What Can We Do About It?

  • Andrew M. Robinson (a1) and Karen Schlegl (a2)

Extract

The Internet and other electronic media have changed the way undergraduate students conduct research. The effects of this technological change on the role of the professor are still not well understood. This article reports on the findings of a recent study that evaluated the scholarly content of student citations in a political science course and tested two interventions designed to improve their quality. The study finds that these students' use of electronic sources was not as poor as some may have assumed, and that the quality of bibliographies improved when in-class instruction was combined with academic penalties. This article reflects on the study's findings, and offers suggestions for how instructors might encourage students to improve the quality of their research.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Andrew M. Robinson is assistant professor of political science and contemporary studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario.
Karen Schlegl is collections/reference librarian at the McNally Library at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

References

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Alexander Jan, and Marsha Tate. 2001. Evaluating Web Resources. http://muse.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webevaluation/webeval.htm (July 30, 2002).
Barberio Richard P. 2004. “The One-Armed Bandit Syndrome: Overuse of the Internet in Student Research Projects.” PS: Political Science & Politics 37 (April): 307311.
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Davis Philip M., and Suzanne A. Cohen. 2001. “The Effect of the Web on Undergraduate Citation Behavior, 1996–1999.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 52 (4): 30914.
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Grimes Deborah, and Carl H. Boening. 2001. “Worries with the Web: A Look at Student Use of Web Resources.” College & Research Libraries 62 (1): 1123.
Robinson Andrew M., and Karen Schlegl. 2004. “Student Bibliographies Improve When Professors Provide Enforceable Guidelines for Citations.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4 (2): 275290.
Robinson Andrew M., and Karen Schlegl. 2003. “Has the Web Really Contributed to a Decline in the Scholarly Quality of Undergraduate Citation Behaviour? A Canadian Case Study.” In Bridging the Digital Divide: Equalizing Access to Information and Communication Technologies: Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science Dalhousie University, May 30–June 1, 2003, ed. Wilhelm C. Peekhaus and Louise F. Spiteri, 115.
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