Beyond Google: How do students conduct academic research?

A new report has been published in the First Monday journal titled Beyond Google: How do students conduct academic research which explores how humanities & social science students utilize library and Web resources for their research projects. The study was undertaken by the liberal arts institution, Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC), which used data from student discussion groups, content analysis, and a student survey to reach their conclusions. The following graphic depicts the first step in the student research process:

research.jpg
Key findings of the report include:
1. A majority of students began their research by consulting course readings or the library’s Web site for online access to scholarly journals. To a lesser extent, students used Yahoo!, Google, and Wikipedia as first steps.
2. Most students consulted aggregated research resources — many of which had been identified for their scholarly quality by professors, librarians, or library databases.
3. Many students were challenged by research tasks, especially selecting and evaluating information and figuring out professors’ expectations for quality research.