Details on the study:
The researchers interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the UW’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, 7 women and 32 men, ranging from 21 to 53 years old.
By spring quarter of 2010, seven months into the study, less than 40 percent of the students were regularly doing their academic reading on the Kindle DX. Reasons included the device’s lack of support for taking notes and difficulty in looking up references. (Amazon Corp., which makes the Kindle DX, has since improved some of these features.) Continue reading →
I first heard about Reference Extract back in 2008. I thought it was a great idea then, and am glad to see this additional funding in place to keep the project moving forward. Here is more information from the press release:
DUBLIN, Ohio, January 6, 2011—The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded $350,000 to fund researchers and developers from OCLC, the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington and Zepheira LLC to continue work creating a more credible Web search experience based on the unique expertise, services and input from librarians worldwide.
The goal of the Reference Extract project is to make it easy to find credible information in the digital age. Researchers and developers are expected to have initial practical analysis and models of this “credibility engine” to share with the community in early 2011. Details of this work can be found through the Reference Extract home page at http://www.referencextract.org/. Continue reading →
Last week LJ and Credo Reference sponsored the webinar, Reference: The Missing Link in Discovery. I had the pleasure of presenting at the webinar with Joe Janes from the University of Washington. The archive of the webinar is available on the LJ site.
Several questions were asked by participants which Joe and I could not answer live. Those questions, and answers, are below. We welcome your comments and further discussion on the future of reference. Continue reading →
Today, Joe Janes from Univ. of Washington, Mike Sweet from Credo, and myself had a great conversation on reference content, student research habits, and how reference content can be more discoverable during the LJ webinar “Reference: The Missing Link in Discovery.”
Joe highlighted research results from OCLC Perceptions study and 2 studies at the University of Washington – Project Information Literacy and use of Wikipedia for course-related research which focused on the changing research behaviors of students. He also addressed the teaching of reference sources to librarians, comparing his learning of sources years ago to today’s focus on content over containers. He speculated on various reference sources that have gone away, transitioned, and what still persists. Continue reading →
Mike Sweet, CEO of Credo Reference, gave me a tour of the new Credo Topic Pages yesterday. What a great tool they are for background/overview information on 10,000 different topics! The stimulus for creating the Topic Pages was context. A University of Washington study on how students research in the digital age found that students struggle to find context for the masses of information available to them in the digital age. Enter Credo’s Topic Pages. The pages are designed to offer context and vocabulary, subject orientation, and pathways to further exploration of the topic. The pages include simple definitions, encyclopedia entries, tag clouds showing the vocabulary of the topic, images, and a title list of the most common references from subject encyclopedia articles (all part of the Credo Reference content). Sharing the topic page content via social tools, links to the library’s chat/IM service, and article citations via EasyBib are included as well, and that’s just the basic topic page. (side note, have you heard of EasyBib? 16 million students are using it….probably some of yours) Continue reading →
Interesting study published by librarians from the University of Washington on “How Today’s Students Use Wikipedia for Course-Related Research.” The article is online, via creative commons license (thanks to authors Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg). One of the key findings includes what resources do students turn to for background information. Wikipedia ranked 6th. Above it – classroom materials, google, scholarly research databases, OPAC, and instructors.
So, should reference publishers push to get their content indexed in general scholarly research databases? The print or online encyclopedia ranked 11th – far below the library bookshelves, own collections, and government websites. I say yes.
OCLC, the University of Washington, and Syracuse University are working together to create a “credible” search engine, one that offers results with preference to sites selected by librarians.
According to the press release, “Reference Extract is envisioned as a Web search experience similar to those provided by the world’s most popular search engines. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extract will be built for maximum credibility of search results by relying on the expertise of librarians. Users will enter a search term and receive results weighted toward sites most often used by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State Library of Maryland, and over 2,000 other libraries worldwide.”
I think this is a fabulous idea, despite what others might think about potential librarian bias, and hope these groups take this idea a few steps further. Wouldn’t it be great if publishers, data aggregators, and libraries who maintain scholarly content could populate this engine with data from invisible web sources – like catalogs, databases, eBook platforms. We could bridge the google gap and offer our patrons a true scholarly search engine. Information industry vendors could advertise, link resolvers could be inserted based on general IP of the user, and librarians across the world could band together to offer a real time chat service on the engine. Think of the money this could save us on metasearch tools! I know, dream on.�
A blog discussing the news and issues surrounding eBooks, for librarians and publishers.