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Creating Effective Research Assignments for Your Students: Library & Web

Help your students have a meaningful and positive library research experience.

Purpose of Libraries & Librarians

Rapid changes in technology have created a revolution in the way libraries provide access to information.College students are no longer limited to the physical library for scholarly sources of information, yet the library and its librarians remain central in selecting and organizing authoritative information and educating the college community about these resources.

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Print Sources vs. Electronic Sources

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Since different types of information may only be available electronically or in print, both traditional print sources and Web documents are necessary to do thorough research on most topics.

  • Many resources are only available in print.
  • Electronic sources of information may provide more sophisticated search capabilities, may be available remotely, can be used simultaneously by many different people, and may allow exporting of information in a variety of forms (e.g. spreadsheets).
  • Information is often available on the Web before it is available in print.
  • Much scientific, government and current events information is only available electronically (e.g. 2000 census data).

In many cases, the Library owns materials in more than one format. There may or may not be differences in the content of materials in print and on the Web, but there are usually differences in presentation. Librarians can provide guidance to Evaluate Information and the proper style to Cite Sources  including  MLA, APA,  Chicago, Turabian  and others.

What does "WEB" mean in Your Course?

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Some faculty choose to limit the number of Web sources students may use in the bibliographies of their papers. There are, however, a few problems with this requirement that you might wish to discuss with a librarian:

  • Students are unclear whether "Web" means all information sources that are delivered via the medium of the World Wide Web (including the Libraries' scholarly electronic databases, e-journals, online catalog, etc.) or only sources on the free Web, located via search engines such as Google or Yahoo!
  • There is a tremendous difference between library online scholarly sources and the free Web. Librarians have purchased extensive scholarly online information sources such as electronic databases for students and their research.
  • There is usually no difference in the content of books, journal articles, government documents or other materials in paper, on microfilm or on the Web.
  • Some electronic "full text" material is not available on paper in the library, such as the extensive newspaper collections available via LexisNexis or the Libraries' electronic journals.