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Re: Universities May be Failing to ... Teach Basic Research

Chen, Xiaotian writes

> Buget problems across the board may be a blessing in disguise, 
> and may force us to stop spinning the hamster wheel and come up 
> with new approaches.

I broadly support this view.

David Dillard writes

> On the other hand, the ability to do multistep complex 
> searches, to use proximity operators not limited to exact 
> phrases, and to limit search statements to specific fields like 
> title or subject headings, amongst other features, in 
> combination allow users of bibliographic databases to do far 
> more precise searching

yeah, but translating an information need into such queries is 
the preserve of the serious database wonk, if at all.

> Google also is prone to very inconsistent and inaccurate search 
> result numbers that are logically inconsistent with numbers in 
> related searches, so that one can never be sure of any degree 
> of comprehensiveness using Google search results.

I taught database searching on Lexis/Nexis a few times.  The 
documentation was so limited, you could not figure out how your 
query was processed by the system.

> Library services and tools are not necessarily for generations 
> past because they are not known or used by todays students, 
> teachers or scholars.

There are equivalents to library services and tools that are used 
by students, teachers and scholars every day. They are the the 
arXivs, the DBLPs, the PubMeds, the RePEcs of this world. People 
find their information on Google. RePEc (my creation) is a 
classic example that A&I data is still useful. But it is quite 
useless if confined to a proprietary interface of one provider.

> Better marketing of these resources is also a possible need and 
> producers of products libraries purchase, such as journal 
> producers and databank and database providers need to be a 
> strong source of this kind of public service promotion of 
> libraries as go to places for quality research resources, not 
> just the libraries themselves.

So libraries have to buy these products at a high cost and then 
spend more money on promoting them? This sounds like adding 
insult to injury to me.

> Keep in mind that the market for database and other publication 
> products may be greatly reduced if libraries are not there to 
> provide access to these products.  Lobbying state governments 
> to provide public library and K-12 library access to databases 
> for general information needs will facilitate some learning of 
> these tools, if taught in K-12, before students get to college, 
> and K-12 instrucion in database saerching technique and 
> information literacy is another area in which database and 
> databank providers should be proactive.  A major part of the 
> battle to teach students how to do research is lost if students 
> come to college with none of these database searching skills in 
> their background.

That battle has long been lost. Let's move on to the next battle.


Thomas Krichel                    http://openlib.org/home/krichel
                                              skype: thomaskrichel