Our #ReferenceStrategy webinar series is off and running! Jodie Morin, library director at Buena Vista University shared with us The Four (or Five?) B’s: Preparing for the Research Process. Spoiler alert: there are five B’s, but whether the fifth B stands for Best, Bounty, Boffo, or something else entirely, is up to you!
Jodie became troubled by the fact that so many students were ignoring library resources and jumping straight into Google with only the goal of getting X number of sources. They would then knit those random sources together however they could for their project. As she explained in the webinar, “I know all too well that gathering those books and articles without some sort of game plan results in projects that lack coherence.“
Jodie’s alliteration became her strategy for teaching the important features of reference sources that she felt were helpful for all students, regardless of their major or assignment. Originally devised for 100-level composition courses, she’s since used this in many different settings.
The Five B’s When Preparing for the Research Process:
- Background Information. According to Jodie, “When a “big picture” is needed, encyclopedias are the student’s best bet, especially specialized encyclopedias at the college level. Credo is an especially attractive tool to demonstrate to students at this early stage because it is 1) online; 2) fully full-text; 3) easy to use; 4) spans multiple disciplines so that there might be multiple relevant articles for the student to read.”
- Broad -> Narrow. “The troublesome thing about information is that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Students nearly always need to find a way to narrow down or focus their topic as they research it. Even just paying attention to section headings in an encyclopedia will help the student be able to do this. Does this topic lend itself to be subdivided historically, geographically, by population or in some other way?”
- Best Search Terms. The not-quite-alliterative-status B! Jodie discussed helping a student gather articles about boot camps for juveniles. Not having a confident grasp of criminal justice, Jodie used Credo’s overview of the topic to discover the phrase “shock incarceration,” which turned out to be very helpful to the student and yielded several useful articles for the student. Boffo? Bounty? What suggestions do you have for Jodie?
- Biographies. “If you can recognize the major players, then you can easily find what they wrote and cite their work. If you know who the experts are, you will recognize the primary sources if and when you stumble across them. Better yet, seek them out when you have a few names! Add these sources to your bibliography so that you are analyzing original material.”
- Bibliographies. “There is no need to reinvent the wheel when someone else, who has probably spent a lot of time learning this topic, lists the best resources for you. Scan the list for author’s names that are mentioned multiple times—these are also well-known experts in the field. Watch for these names as you do additional research.”
Jodie fielded some great questions during the Q&A. If you’re interested in hearing her expound upon student reactions, strategies for getting buy-in, and what aspects have had the most success, watch the full 30-minute recording above! Click here for the full transcript, and here for the slides.
And let’s keep the conversation going in the meantime using the hashtag #ReferenceStrategy!