The following discussion topic may seem more like a demonstration unless you involve the students in the process. You can teach this lesson (if you are comfortable) or ask a librarian who specializes in this area to assist. Try to carry out this discussion demonstration by using library resources brought to your class or by taking your class to the library. Also, since this activity requires accessing online resources, try to schedule a computer lab where students can gain hands-on practice with these tools and strategies. You will need to make sure that you engage your students properly so that they will not use computer time for disengaged surfing and instant messaging.
- Show students different access tools for finding different kinds of information. Demonstrate the need to know what you are looking for and where to find it. This lesson can be done by showing students how information is pieced together in a citation and showing them the value of knowing how to find that material. Use this exercise to explain that the typical way professionals do research is to do bibliographic research (referring to the research cited in another’s work).
- First, show students different citations. (You may want to tell them what style each citation is based on.) Ask students to identify a journal article, chapter in a book, newspaper article, and so on, from the citations. Ask students to identify the title, author, journal title, and other pertinent information in the citations.
- Show students strategies for searching material based on the citation information (e.g., title search or author search).
- Next, have students practice finding materials using only the citation information. Give students a citation that you know is available in your library and ask them to locate it by searching the online catalog. (Do not tell them what kind of work it is.)
- This exercise will require a discussion of their search strategies and whether they were successful. Be sure to provide feedback where necessary and help students increase their confidence in searching for materials.