Friday, August 23, 2013

Three Clicks Too Many Or Student-Researcher Impatience?

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education revisited the notion that our student researchers are not very patient today. If the students find an online database too laborious, they will skip it.

The particular librarian who wrote the article had the following exchange with one of his faculty members:
 “Brian, I want you to know that it’s getting harder for me to get students to use the library— especially the databases— anything beyond three clicks is just too many.”

As Brian put it, "[i]f our super users (history faculty) are frustrated with database interfaces – what does that mean? Many of us spend a lot of time promoting library resources to students, but if faculty stop encouraging (or requiring) usage—what then?"

This goes back to my post about print books and convenience. It appears that researchers no longer want to take the time to look in books or spend time really delving into online databases for research. If they can find information through Google or Wikipedia, then they are done. This makes for very narrow scholarship where everyone is citing to the two or three articles that happen to be uploaded to an open access source available through Google.

As one commenter put it: "I have seen students go way beyond three clicks to access online information when it concerns shopping and downloading media. Students may not want to learn to use online research databases, but that doesn't mean that the databases themselves are too hard to use. Students I meet with at the reference desk often tell me that don't like using online databases because they have to open individual articles and read them to find the information they're looking for."

It seems that society is breeding these fast-paced, instant gratification research habits that will hurt the academe in the long run. Really thorough research still requires an online catalog and books. We are not at a point where everything is digital (and still have a long way to go to get there), and we are going to lose out on a lot of recorded knowledge and wonderful resources unless we decide to take the time and dig in.

With that I am headed to Isle Royale National Park for one week of hiking. I'll see you on the flip side.



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