Literature and Data Search Library Session
In this library session, students learn advanced bibliographic search concepts, citation management and instrumental reading in order to conduct a data search via the published literature. After brief sections of discussion and demonstration from the librarian, students engage what they have just learned with their own topics, recording their findings on a worksheet.
- Understand the importance of searching in more than one place (i.e. with more than one search tool)
- See the power of using a bibliographic management tool
- Understand how descriptors and subject headings can be used distinctly from keywords to improve a search
- Know how and why to conduct a citation search in the Social Science Citation Index
- Gain some awareness of the importance of careful note-taking and reading instrumentally as a search strategy for identifying data sources
- Leave with several concrete ideas of ways to find data
- articles on a topic,
- which students will read in their entirety
- and cite as evidence in an argument.
- articles in a subfield, using a particular methodology, employing certain types of data
- from which students can skim just the abstract, introduction, and data section for useful leads
- and treat as data in an exploratory investigation of what other researchers have done.
- Provide a sense of order and method to the varied techniques discussed in class
- Model the types of information that should be collected in a research journal
- Raise questions for students to help them see the intellectual decisions being made while searching – that it is not a content-free process
- Encourage the students to accomplish something meaningful during hands-on time so that they will leave having made progress in their research
Context for Use
The session is one part of a collaboration with Paula Lackie, the Academic Technologist (AT) who supports students' use of data in the social sciences. Ideally, the librarian and AT visit twice together, focusing the first session (the one described here) on finding literature and data so the second session can focus on managing data files and other concerns of working with large data sets. When the librarian and AT can only visit once, we must scale back dramatically.
This activity, as described here, is for the first of the two sessions, and requires approximately one hour. A classroom with projection for demonstration and individual student workstations for the hands-on components is necessary.
It is my hope that this activity could be easily adapted to other library session in which students are required to search for data. In classes where students are researching less diverse topics, the session could emphasize less of the bibliographic search techniques and more specific, topical resources where students might find data.
Description and Teaching Materials
All work happens within the class period. Because of the structured way we move through the worksheet, students leave with evidence of the tips they've learned and work they've done (in a short period of time). Students have continuous access to a research guide for their class posted on the library web site.Handout for Literature and Data Search Session (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 28kB Dec7 10)
Goals and Outline for Literature and Data Search Session (Microsoft Word 36kB Dec7 10)
Data Reference Worksheet (Acrobat (PDF) 91kB Dec7 10)
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources