Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research
Pub Date: 2016
Publisher: Ohio State University Libraries
Conditions of Use
The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of read more
The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles.
The content is accurate and unbiased. Most of the links, which are plentiful and well placed, are either broken or link to resources at OSU's library, which I could not access. Use of this book would require time to correct this.
The content is stable. Other than updating the links, little would need to be done to use this text.
Very clearly written; jargon is appropriately explained. Self-checks allow students to make sure they understand the material.
Each section logically builds on the previous, and tone is consistent throughout.
The text has a great deal of modularity. Each section is listed in the Table of Contents and covers a few pages or less. There is no index. It is easy to find and move to sections quickly. the structure allows one to pull sections out for other courses (which I have done).
The research process is explained step-by-step with appropriate detail and excellent graphics.
Images, charts, and diagrams serve to explain and support the text. Many seem rather large and I found them a bit distracting. Additionally, there are page breaks in strange places, leaving large blocks of white space on pages while the narrative continued on the next page. This was very confusing. It would also be helpful if the links would open in a new window.
No grammatical errors noted.
It seemed inclusive where applicable.
This text impressed me as appropriate for high school students or college freshmen.
This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects. read more
This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects.
The content is presented is accurate and in an unbiased manner for students to easily grasp the process and concepts.
This book was written in 2016 and may need some minor updates. The material is presented in a logical manner that leads students through the process as they begin their research. Each chapter can be used independently as the instructor fits the chapters into course content.
This book is easily understood by an undergraduate and doesn't require extra readings or content to be understood. It is concise and clear which will be appreciated by the student as they conduct research.
This book is consistent in it's framework which leads the student to each step logically avoiding confusion or frustration.
The chapters can easily be used independently and refer students to other chapters with supporting information.
The book is written to lead students in a logical manner through the research process. The length of the chapters allows a student to easily read the chapter for that step in their research, apply it and refer to it easily.
The book downloads easily onto a laptop or e-reader. The graphics display nicely on either size screen and enhance the text.
No grammatical errors were noticed.
This book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Examples used are appropriate.
This book introduces beginning student researchers to the academic research process in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. The books lack of jargon and abbreviations will help international students learn how to better navigate an academic library for research. Instructors in all disciplines should consider this book as an additional textbook for their classes requiring research for assignments, class projects and/or papers.
The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader read more
The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by embedding audio-visual resources, download-and-keep checklists and formative activities of excellent quality.Chapter 9 'Making an Argument' is particularly strong and complements Chapter 1's analysis of research questions well. It is an excellent resource for undergraduates, post-graduates and beyond, and could also be useful for professionals researching topics to support evidence-based practice protocols. More tips about applying facets to search results on services like Summon, EDS or Primo would be a useful addiition. I was surprised the authors did not employ language to frame the skill development in the language of 'employability' and life-skills, which might hook readers who are not planning to engage in academic research in the long-term.
The accuracy of the book was excellent, My score would have been 5, except the advice about copyright legislation and fair use is only applicable to students of Ohio State or elsewhere in the USA; so an institution in the Britain, Ireland or Europe would not be able to use or recommend chapters 11 or 12. However, these chapters are well-judged for the intended audience; succinct and comprehensible, where so many guides are too woolly or arcane to be useful to a general readership.
Chapter 1 had a dead link to an audio-visual resource. The explanation of how to use Wikipedia for academic study was nuanced, classic and practical. The explanation of how to use truncation and wildcards were similarly time- (and platform-) proof. There is much current interest in 'fake news' and the manipulation of Facebook and Google algorithms. So it could be timely to add a section on the known issues and some practical strategies to compensate for them.
The authors use excellent, clear English that should be comprehensible to anyone with academic english reading proficiency. My only qualms related to an ambiguous use of the term "poster" (this word has a particular meaning in an academic setting which was not explained) and more extensively around the slightly simplistic and dated language used for the university library catalogue and abstract & indexing databases. One of the activity sheets is structured like a decision-tree and starts with the question "are you working from a database"; with modern resource discovery platforms and other aggregating tools, students may not be able to tell whether they are looking at results from a single database, all the databases from one supplier or multiple databases from a variety of suppliers.
The stylesheet and planning of content is elegant and the quality is consistent throughout the text.
Each chapter is split into useful subsections, with clear formatting to demarcate between topics, tips and activities. The authors have also helpfully embedded hyperlinks to relevant chapters or sections earlier or later in the book.The length of individual subsections is consistent to make reading online easy (balancing scrolling and page turning). However, the length of embedded audio-visual materials varies so a student planning their time might be surprised in places.
The text has a sensible progression of topics, with hyperlinks back and forwards to connect relevant topics. And the final chapter, 'Roles of Research Sources', pulls together the lessons learnt with a useful acronym (BEAM), giving the book a strong ending.
I accessed the text on a variety of browsers, screen sizes and operating systems without any problems with the interface.
I only spotted two minor errors - site instead of cite and White's definition (page 186) without an apostrophe.
Not all the video materials embedded are captioned making them inaccessible to some categories of disabled users.
The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing. read more
The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing.
The book is a polished, professional and appropriate tool to help students improve their information literacy.
The content is relevant for undergraduate students and their instructors. It focuses primarily on fundamental approaches to finding, evaluating, and deploying sources in order to enter the scholarly conversation. While the authors occasionally mention a specific tool, or insert links to outside sources, these are placed within "Tip" boxes that can easily be updated. Because this book was created for students at Ohio State University, it is sometimes quite specific about tools or processes that are unique to OSU. Instructors using this book at other institutions may sometimes need to suggest their own's institution's available tools to keep the text relevant for their students.
The book is well-crafted for an undergraduate audience, taking an easy-going, friendly tone and clearly defining key terms and concepts. It is also accessibly structured, making it fairly easy for users to jump between topics, rather than requiring a linear read. Links between related sections are provided wherever it is appropriate.
The book uses a consistent design scheme and structure. Features that appear in each chapter include graphics, tip boxes, examples, activities, and summaries.
Each unit of the text stands on its own and could be easily assigned as an individual reading. Rather than being self-referential, the text will suggest that more information on a related topic can be found in one of the other modules.
The text is organized to flow in roughly the same sequence as a typical research project. Students who are reading the text while working on a project should find individual sections logically presented and relevant. This is clearly not a text designed as background reading; rather it functions best as "just in time" information for students working through the research process.
I found the text quite easy to use in it its online form. It is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and thoughtfully arranged.
I noticed a couple of typos, but no significant grammatical errors.
The examples provided are of broad interest, and most readers will have some familiarity with them. There were no insensitive or offensive comments or examples.
Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is a practical tool for novice researchers. It asks students to begin the process with a research question, and then provides a step-by-step approach to creating the question. All the other chapters flow from this effective beginning, and should increase students' information literacy by helping them understand types of sources available to researchers, the relationship between sources and information needs, how sources should be evaluated, and how they can be deployed effectively and ethically. Additional chapters on argumentation and copyright round out the book's overall usefulness to students engaged in a research project. This book could be easily paired with a staged research project, and would provide students with the "just-in-time" information they need to successfully complete the assignment.
Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. read more
Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the research. The chapters are in easily digestible chunks covering the process of searching and evaluating resources in a useful and cross-discipline manner. It covers the source search process of research in an easily digestible manner.
The topics are accurate and have been written in a way that they will not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. The Copyright chapter is obviously only applicable to those studying in the US. Having a version of this chapter available discussing copyright law in the UK could be useful any access the course for a different location.
The topics, examples and videos used are relevant and useful and should not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. Some of the examples and links are specific to Ohio State and America and this can limit the relevance for students who do not have the ability to access Ohio State resources or are not based in America. Also the copyright section specfically is obviously only US copyright law limiting it's usefulness for students based in other locations.
The writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. It is sometimes slightly repetitive but overall the information is clearly presented and the vocabulary used is not too advanced. The style is informal and it makes a weighty topic much easier to process. I think it would be useful to have a glossary in the resource for students who maybe have not come across some of the topic specific words before and need them defining.
I was impressed with the consistency considering the work is made up of different author’s contributions. I could not identify different voices within the text, which helped improve the flow of the work. The arrangement of the contents tab is very useful to help navigate to specific sections of chapters as well as the overall chapter.
The layout of the book makes this modular. You can choose which sections to look at in any order and they read clearly and separately well. The other sections are signposted throughout the text and you can link back through to these using the hyperlinks provided. I think the order could be slightly improved by moving the citing and copyright information after the information on argument and writing but because you can choose how to read the book then it is not really an issue. I think it is important to note that if you cannot play the video content or the links in the book are Ohio State Specific the book does lose some of its positive features.
Overall, the structure is straightforward and logical. It flows in a manner that is easy to read and to process. Using the navigation you can work your way through the book in any order you feel is appropriate. As I stated I feel the referencing and copyright information could be in a different place but because you can choose to read this in a different order, it does not really matter.
Having read the online version on both a PC and a tablet I found the interface both easy to use and accessible. The page and chapter length worked well on both platforms and it was easy to access the links and activities contained within the resource. I could not access the videos on the PC due to not having Adobe Flash and it would be useful to have known I would require this to access the resource in its entirety. The video content is a refreshing change to just text and the images used are overall relevant. The videos do not all include a text version and this would be useful for accessibility. A few of them do have this option. Some of the images in the text viewed blurry on my PC and tablet. I am not sure if this was an issue with my own software or an error in the book.
I did not notice any errors during this read through. In some places, the text was a bit repetitive but this not disrupt the flow too drastically.
The examples used are not offensive and are diverse in their range. They have not given examples that define the guide for specific subset of students, which makes it more applicable.
Just for accessibility purposes, I think all the videos need a text version not just some. In addition, the RefWorks program has now been updated and it is called New Refworks with a changed logo and this could be updated in the book along with the guide to setting up Refworks if your institution subscribes. I feel that there are many links that you could not access unless you were an Ohio State user and this could disrupt the flow of the book for some users.
The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered read more
The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean search strings, all facets of entering scholarly discourse are addressed in brief chapters that feel modern and accessible. While instructors may wish to supplement or replace some of the exercise sets in the text with their own assessments, the content of the text provides ample coverage if selected to serve as a primary textbook for a foundational information literacy course.
The book is accurate in addressing the current state of the information landscape as encountered in the realm of academic research, as well as the legalities of copyright and fair use.
All content within this book is current and the content within chapters sections are written in a style that today's undergraduate students will be able to learn easily from. Many of the concepts, processes, and principles that are covered in the text have an inherent longevity that will prolong the relevance of this text past its initial publication date. However some chapter sections, tutorials, and videos are institution-specific reducing the overall relevancy of using the entire text at other locations.
The text is written in a clear and concise style that current students will find very accessible. The authors consciously defined any technical terminology or jargon as it was introduced throughout the chapters. Furthermore, the technical concepts that were more complex to define are often accompanied by visuals to help convey what is being defined.
The terminology and format of the book, along with the linked exercise sets and visualizations, provide a solid consistency that will helps students focus on learning the content rather than being bogged down with understanding the textbook format.
Instructors could easily parse different chapters of this book to use for modular instruction, especially in "one-shot" or other limited instructional scenarios. Some of the chapters are a bit self-referential which may generate a minor degree of confusion if used out of the holistic context.
While there is a logical flow to most of the chapters, some seem a little out of place such as the "Making an Argument" chapter. I would have preferred a division of chapters into sections, where the writing-related chapters were separated from the source-related chapters. I also think the chapters that covered Copyright, Fair Use, ethical source use, and citations would have a stronger flow if organized together in their own section.
The ability to navigate through the book from the table of contents page is a great feature for students, especially when the instructor is choosing to assign only particular chapters or work through some of the chapters in a different sequence. The linked exercise sets are also easy to navigate through, allowing students to focusing on applying learned concepts rather than learning new interfaces. However, throughout my review some of the linked external content would not open for me and links to external materials always have the possibility of changing which may result in future inaccessibility
No grammatical errors were detected when reviewing this book.
This book is not offensive nor culturally insensitive in any manner.
For any instructor looking for an open textbook to orient undergraduate students to the basics of the academic research and writing processes while simultaneously providing context of contemporary issues surrounding these scholarly activities, this is a comprehensive and accessible choice!
This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in read more
This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and carrying through to integrating and citing sources, the text includes practical tools for students to use in their own research, as well as links to supplemental information. If anything, the text errs on the side of providing too much information, such that a novice researcher may feel overloaded.
The text offers an accurate articulation of the research process, and avoids bias by covering a wide variety of potential information sources, including the use of web search engines other than Google.
Because the information landscape is constantly shifting, the text will require fairly frequent review. This is particularly important when it comes to how web sources are addressed. For example, the book does not address fake news and/or dealing with problematic web resources, and it glosses over use of social media as an information source. However, the concepts related to the research process itself change very little, and the information presented about them has staying power.
The text is written in accessible language, and works to address uses of jargon that are typical within the academic environment by providing explanations for what professors typically want when they request a particular item in the research process. This is an effective way to establish relevance with students, as well as clarify academic expectations.
The language within the text is consistent and accessible, with helpful insertions of definitions and/or links to explanatory supplementary information online.
The text's sections are clearly and logically labeled, and could very easily be plugged into a course in part or whole.
The order of topics in the text follow the research assignment process, from point of assignment decoding through to writing and source citation. Given the audience for the text and its intended purpose, this makes great sense.
The text contains links to many outside web sources that may provide helpful supplemental information for the reader; however many of these links were found to be dead. Comprehensive review of all links is highly recommended. In addition, I recommend continuing review of available videos related to the topics, as many selected are either rudimentary or contain dated material.
The writing and grammatical quality of this text are of the highest quality.
The text is culturally relevant and inclusive in its examples.
As stated, this book holds great utility and relevance, but requires updating for links to external web resources. It will also need to be adapted to keep up with the changing landscape of information sources themselves.
The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would read more
The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting, also is a bit questionable as to its overall relevance). Instructors who choose this book for a one- or two-credit information literacy course will have much more material at their hands than they can reasonably cover in a semester. This book would make a good companion volume to just about any course involving research.
The content is accurate and unbiased. As an example, I was interested to find that the author actually recommends that students use Wikipedia, at least in the very early stages of research, to get an overall picture of their topic. So many college instructors, regardless of the subject, seem to have a strong aversion to Wikipedia. Here, the author actually goes into some detail on how using the references in an entry can lead the researcher to additional sources he/she might not find through other means. Some of the activities are a bit misleading or written in such a way that there could be more than one right answer, which isn't necessarily an error, but could be tightened up a bit.
The content is largely relevant and up-to-date, though I was a bit surprised to not find a section addressing "fake news," which has become such a watchword over the past year. I was also a bit surprised that, although the author has a section talking about which "neighborhood" certain types of information "hangs out," there wasn't a discussion of different domain names, such as ".edu," ".org," and ".com" and what they indicate to readers. Also hampering the book's relevance somewhat is an overabundance of examples and activities that require an Ohio State student ID to log-in. Many of these would have to be re-worked or re-written for the book to be useful at other schools.
In large part, the book is clearly written and new ideas are clearly explained. The writer does a pretty good job of avoiding jargon and technical terminology or where it can't be avoided, of providing examples and clear definitions of terms. Some of the activities aren't so clearly written that there is one obviously correct answer. Also, some of the scoring of activities isn't clear enough to indicate to the user what was wrong and why it was wrong or even the correct answer that should have been chosen. Not every concept is adequately explained or thoroughly developed (for instance, the crucial process of moving from an initial reading to a research question could use further clarification and development). Another area that could use further discussion and development would be how to use databases.
The book is largely consistent, though there are occasions where the consistency falls through. For example, most of the accompanying activities will open in a new window, but not all. There were several occasions where this reader closed out an activity window and closed out the entire book as well. This is an area that someone really should take a look at, as it can be confusing and irritating for the user. Also, the fact that many of the book's activities require an Ohio State student ID effectively locks out users from other institutions.
The book is largely modular, with sections that can easily be broken apart and assigned at different points in the course. There is a very useful table of contents, broken down by subject into smaller pieces that can easily be accessed. As mentioned previously, the book is very comprehensive, almost too much so at times, so having this table of contents is very helpful.
The book is fairly-well organized, though there are things placed in odd locations that could be touched on earlier or later, as the case may be. For instance, there is a good discussion fairly late in the book about deciding whether to quote, paraphrase, or summarize, which would have been much more useful if it was placed in the section of the book that directly addresses each of those activities. Instead, it is placed in a section on academic integrity (which, again, is very Ohio State-specific, too much so, really). I also question the relevance of a chapter on creating an academic argument, which if it is to be included at all, would seem to make much more sense earlier in the book, when students are learning the basics of research and how to apply it to their writing.
The book is largely free of significant issues, although as mentioned previously, many of the activities require an Ohio State student ID to log-in and use, which makes them useless to students from other institutions. Also, the activities are sometimes difficult to follow--one doesn't know why one answered incorrectly or what the correct answer even is in some instances. And the fact that some activities open a new browser window and some don't can also be confusing. There are a few activities that lead to broken links.
There are the occasional run-on sentences and spelling mistakes in the text. It's almost impossible not to have some issues in this area. However, the infrequent errors don't detract from the book or its overall usefulness, though it might be a good idea for someone to go through the text and try to clear some of these up.
The book does a good job of avoiding being culturally insensitive or offensive. Activities and examples are written in such a way as to be inclusive. Many of the examples link directly to sites that deal with minority themes and issue.
I think, on the whole, this is a very useful book and one that could be put to immediate use in many instances. However, the number of activities and examples that require an Ohio State student ID to access make this less relevant than it could be if the author had striven for more universal examples.
This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who read more
This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and assumes no prior knowledge. It has additional features that help to reinforce the material, such as activities and MCQs. These help to reinforce the learning and test the reader’s understanding. Additionally, the examples used are very useful and helpful in gaining understanding of the subject matter. It goes into the material in depth and not only tells students how to progress their research but also explains clearly why they should be doing it this way. For example, it explains to students how to differentiate between good and bad sources. However, I have one small concern with this aspect. They do not tell students how to differentiate between different standards of peer-reviewed journals. They do mention looking at citation count but state that is not a useful measure for very recent articles. Some discussion on determining the quality of the journal itself would be helpful. For example, looking at citation counts for the journal, rather than the article would be one example, as would looking at rankings. Overall, I would see this as an excellent reference book to last students through their academic careers.
The material itself is accurate. However, many of the links to additional material either do not work or are inaccessible to those without OSU credentials.
The material is mainly presented in a way that will last. However, many of the links no longer work so these should be checked and alternatives put in on a regular basis. Additionally, there are links to videos that may not be there in the future, although all I clicked on were available. However, the text description of the videos did not work. Many of the activities (MCQ’s etc) have a dated feel about them in terms of layout and interaction. The design of them could do with some updating.
The writing itself is very clear and easy to understand. Diagrams are used to good effect to clarify concepts (e.g. use of Venn diagrams to explain Boolean concepts). However, some of the terminology is not as clearly defined as it could be. While terms are generally explained clearly in the text, it would be nice to have a glossary of terms. Additionally, the MCQs are not always clear as if the reader gets an answer wrong it is not always apparent which is the correct one.
The book is consistent in writing style and interface.
The book is structured in a modular format whereby the reader can dip in and out of different sections, as they need to. Equally, for a student starting out, it is structured in a way that is likely to follow the steps in the same order as the student, making it a good companion to their research projects.
The book was organised in a very natural and sensible way and flowed smoothly from one topic to another. Links were provided to related sections of the book where relevant so that if the reader forgot what was meant by a particular topic, they could easily hop back and forth. The book started at the very beginning with good coverage of developing a research question and then progressed through tools and sources to help with this. The additional activities were all web based, which works fine if you have easy access. However, I was using a kindle with poor broadband so struggled to access it at times. It also felt a bit disruptive leaving the book to do the activities. It’s also not always clear whether links lead to another part of the book or to an external site. The tips are a useful addition. The stand out when flicking through the book and help to reinforce the important points. It is also useful the ways steps are clearly broken down into sub-steps.
I downloaded it to Kindle, and found a number of issues. It struggled to deal with larger fonts, resulting in some text not being visible.. There were also references to “the bottom of the page” but the bottom of the page varies depending on font size. Not all of the activities worked. Some of the activities required OSU credentials to access them, which was frustrating.
There were some minor grammatical and typographical errors but nothing major.
The book is very US centric in its use of examples. For example, there is an American football example and news sources referred to are US based generally. Additionally, copyright discussion is US centric.
Overall, I found this to be an excellent book that will help students in their research projects. I think it is a book that they will use for a number of years as it is has sufficient depth to help at different levels. The one main change I would make would be to broaden OSU references and activities so they are referring to databases in general, for example, rather than simply talking about the OSU one. Much of the material is relevant regardless of institution but a reader unfamiliar with databases would not be aware of this and might skip over some very useful information.
Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use read more
Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes and videos. The table of contents is thorough but there is not a glossary. While this is a strong text some discussion of theory and how theoretical frameworks are used in academic writing.
While the text could have addressed additional areas, the authors were accurate and detailed. Chapter 8 - How to Cite Sources is well done and accurately takes novel researchers through when they should and should not provide citations.
The authors present how to develop, approach, and conduct sound research in a well thought out format. This text is up-to-date addressing issues like Wikipedia and Google Scholar. While issues around these information sources will change, the way this text is set up, it can easily be updated in the future.
The book is well written, clear, and easy to follow. Jargon such as primary, secondary, and tertiary sources were explained clearly with appropriate examples. This text will be accessible for my students and most others pursuing advanced degrees.
The authors are consistent throughout the text when discussing topics like presenting arguments and the relationship this has with concepts like research questions and the sources researcher select. While consistency is expected is difficult to do especially when writing as a team. More impressively is the consistency of supplemental materials throughout the text.
The book has long chapters and occasionally I had some difficulty knowing where one section ended and another began but overall it is readily divisible. Another important aspect of the text are the supplemental materials like online quizzes and videos which are also clearly align with the sections in the text.
I was skeptical at first when I began reading but the overall organization of this text is good. Even though the text is about writing and sources, a section of theory and incorporating theoretical frameworks would have strengthen the book. However the topics selected flowed well and led potential researchers through a logical process.
A few problems linking to sum supplemental materials but overall I was impressed by the quality of the graphics as well as the links to quizzes and videos that were provided.
I did not come across any grammatical or typographical issues.
I did not see any cultural insensitive examples or information provided. However I also did not see a lot of racial or ethnic diversity in examples throughout this text. Overall, I feel the authors approached the subject matter appropriately.
The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with read more
The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources are described. There is a focus throughout on software and databases for the students at the authors institution and that can be confusing to readers from other institutions. The information provided regarding citing, ethics and copyright, and fair use was informative and would be beneficial to the reader. There were sections throughout that could have been more in depth and more specific. For instance, when going over the various ways to cite sources, additional examples could be provided and the version/edition should be listed. For instance, was the APA citation in APA 6th edition format? Also, make sure to address citing from secondary sources as students do this often and tend to cite what they read even if they read it from another text. The TOC was helpful and allowed ease of understanding what was to be covered in each section. One main complain that I have was regarding the additional information provided to help the reader in writing a paper. This information would be helpful for basic college writing but not for academic writing, thesis or dissertation writing. The sections required for some of these papers are not discussed and the text eludes that the sections provided regarding writing an argumentative piece would be appropriate for all. Also, synthesizing information could be explained a bit more and with more depth. Synthesizing includes more than critiquing and summarizing. All in all, the sourcing information is spectacular and the additional information could be expanded upon.
Accuracy of sourcing was spot on. Some of the additional categories discussed, as mentioned in the first section of this review, could be expanded upon to fully explain that category, if it is to be included in the book. The examples and activities provided were quite good and would be very beneficial for students to apply what they are learning in real-life contexts. Links were provided for extending information. I did not attempt to open every link but making sure they are up-to-date will be important as time goes forward. I also feel that the section on popular texts can be misleading. Stating that the Washington Post is "popular" eludes that it is not reliable or valid. This is not necessarily true as many experts in various fields write sections in "popular" newspapers.
As previously stated, a lot of links go to OSU resources. This could be problematic for any reader that is not at OSU. More information should be provided to support any student in the world as that part would be confusing to many students.
The text is easy to read and follow. All new information is explained and then examples and activities are provided. This is student friendly and allows any reader to quickly follow along and understand what is being stated, especially regarding the sourcing elements. As stated above, there are some sections that could/should be expanded upon for clarity and this might be best for beginning university students but the text was easy to understand in regards to sourcing, citing, and fair use. More information on how to use the sources and sections of papers would be beneficial to all students.
Each chapter seemed to follow a similar structure that followed the TOC.
Reading the book online provides ability to chunk the text based on assignments and can be read chapter by chapter, entirety or starting at different places. Due to the extensive amount of outside links and examples, this would be quite different if read in paper format. This book truly has to be read online to ensure benefit from all of the additional activities, links, examples, sources, etc. In addition, the many links specific to OSU would not be helpful for other students.
The organization is consistent from chapter to chapter. Information is explained and then examples and activities are provided to further knowledge. This works well for readers that needs examples.
Using a laptop provided no issues. However, when using a smartphone, the pages changed in size and various display features did not load properly or at all.
Very few grammatical errors were noticed.
No cultural issues noticed other than the many OSU references and sources. This could be offensive to other institutions as they will not be able to access many of the links.
The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate read more
The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much content they might use and repurpose.
The book is error-free and appears to be free of bias.
The book is pitched to an Ohio State University audience, so some of the resources pointed to would not be the same as a potential adopter's institution might select. In addition, the book needs some updating regarding the impact of social media on the information cycle. Social media formats are mentioned, but a fuller treatment of how they fit into the information climate would be a good addition.
The text was clear and easy to read, and provided numerous examples for its points. It also did not rely on jargon in its explanations, which makes it much more accessible.
The text was consistent in its use of terms. I found its tone consistent, as well as the level of explanation for the wide variety of concepts explored.
The organization of the text into units makes it very easy to break the content apart into smaller units and use it for a variety of purposes. I could see using the content for different parts of several courses, as well as incorporating it into e-learning content.
The topics are presented in a logical fashion, following the path that a typical research assignment might take. This will also make it easier to fit within the flow of a course that uses the textbook to teach about the process of academic research.
The interface of the text itself works appropriately, but some of the ancillary quizzes and extra material did not work so well. Many of the graphics did not work as well within the pdf format as they do in the web format.
The textbook was free of grammatical errors and was easy to read.
The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive.
I am exploring the creation of a for-credit information literacy class at my institution and this book is a possible candidate for adoption for the course.
I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following read more
I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a hypothesis instead of one simply confirming a previous, and perhaps uninformed, belief.
The book didn't seem to dismiss any possible research method. Instead it provided suggestions of how and when any individual research method may be relevant.
The book was published last academic year and the content included is still relevant, mostly because best-practices in research (and research writing) haven't changed much. The volume of research methods students can use given the internet's power is ever increasing, yet the book does well to isolate a handful of long standing tenets that academic writers have used for decades while allowing for discussion of web-based writing and multi-modal presentation methods instructors may increasingly require students to use.
Each section is concise, clear, and easy to follow . . . for me. I assume students will be capable of reading the text, performing quizzes provided, and plotting out a research path to complete their assignment(s). Then again, as an academic I obsess over these issues. I can see a student yawning while reading this text. The content isn't especially fun to read yet the information provided in relevant and time-saving if students are willing to relax, read actively, and apply the material to the assignment their instructor has given. I don't imagine many students would seek the book out and read about research methods, yet an instructor can pair excerpts from the book with specific assignments along a student's research path to help the student retain and apply the helpful suggestions in the book.
The text does well to allow students to name the process they're going through when composing a research question then deciding on what research path fits their question. Students are guided to consider what blend of qualitative / quantitative, primary / secondary / tertiary, or public / professional / scholarly research will fit their research and writing goals. The book refers back to the same terms throughout and provides students with active learning worksheets to plot a research AND writing plan to complete their work, one they could conceivably follow throughout their academic and professional career.
Each subheading contains, on average, not more than a page of content allowing instructors the ability to easily limit reading assignments from the book to concise, focused sections. The book is very process-based, and follows the workflow necessary to write a successful academic researched assignment. The limit of this strategy might be students being overwhelmed with so much discussion of process they'd be paralyzed to inaction. An instructor, then, would have to be direct in assigning reading materials relevant to a student's immediate research goal.
I like how the text follows the path a student would follow: from narrowing a research question, selecting and reviewing research materials, then choosing how to implement them ethically in writing. It also details how to process research considerations students may not consider including how to archive research results, to respect copyright law when publishing blog posts or submitting student work to an online repository.
The text contains many online activities, sample research artifacts, and instructional handouts. Some require on Ohio State student authentication. The text is still useful without access to these materials, though an instructor would have to alert students to this issue.
Text was proofread well.
Didn't see any culturally insensitive content.
This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It read more
This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which steps writers might need to revisit to improve their work.
The content appears to be accurate to 2016, with some acknowledgement that finding sources is an activity that has seen many changes in the past few decades, and will likely seem more, and rapidly.
Information discovery and retrieval is a rapidly changing process in a changing field. But much of the content in this textbook—as far as general advice and instruction for finding resources and the ways to use them—remains relevant. As information processes change and as information uses change, I have no doubt that librarians will be at the forefront of maintaining the relevance of a textbook like this one through various edition changes.
This textbook is clear, and accessible to researchers at all levels. Jargon, where present, is well-explained, and the contexts for the various components of the textbook are provided.
The text and frameworks in this book are consistent with ACRL frameworks as well as with the ways librarians tend to talk about finding and using sources. Furthermore, the book consistently uses the same terminologies to clearly explain sometimes difficult practices.
I would be very comfortable using any chapter of this book to teach a component of the academic research process. The chapters are discrete, with well-defined boundaries. The modularity of this textbook helps reinforce the overarching idea in this book: the iterative research process. Students might read the chapters in virtually any order, and come away with a valuable understanding of the research process.
This textbook presents the research process in the way that many students and faculty think about the process—from the perspective of the end goal, and through the organizational structure of an academic paper. But, it also indicates throughout the process places when the researcher needs to revisit an earlier step, to modify the project, or to make the end product more meaningful.
No issues in the interface; nothing distracting from the content.
Some minor punctuation errors, but no grammatical errors that distract from the content.
This textbook comes from an American perspective for ways of searching for, retrieving, and using information, as well as the traditionally American ways of constructing arguments. Though there is not discussion of other cultural ways of arguing academically, this textbook does not dismiss or otherwise denigrate other cultures; nor is it insensitive in any way.
Many examples are university-specific to the libraries at Ohio State University, as should be expected from a textbook such as this. As such, this book will be most helpful to students using the book at OSU. However, instructors using this book need to be aware of this focus, and must prepare to supplement with materials accessible by researchers outside OSU.
This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of read more
This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical use of sources, how to cite sources, making an argument, writing tips, copyright basics, fair use, and roles of resource sources. The textbook hits all of the topics that I plan to cover in my upcoming classroom-based research course with the exception of techniques for completing and writing a literature review. The textbook touches on the topic through a section on "background reading", but does not go in-depth. Otherwise, the textbook covers every aspect of academic research.
I found no errors or bias issues in my initial first read of the textbook.
The information and techniques provided within this textbook are up-to-date and relevant for academic research. I reviewed several textbooks before choosing this one for my upcoming masters-level classroom-based research course. I chose this book because of its relevance in regard to the practical skills needed in order to complete research assignments within the course, as well as, writing a capstone research paper.
This textbook is clear and exceptionally readable. It is organized by research skills in an order that makes sense to the reader. For example, the book begins with a chapter on choosing one's research question. Verbiage is clear and concise for all levels of academia to be able to effectively utilize this text.
This textbook is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter of the textbook builds on the last. The reader is not necessarily expected to have prior knowledge of research before reading chapter one, but should easily be able to have a good frame of reference for academic research by the end of the textbook due to its high-quality framework for scaffolding knowledge with each chapter.
This textbook does a great job of sectioning academic research into small bites for the reader. It was easy for me to create modules from the textbook's chapters, spreading the information within the text over an 8-week course. The modularity of this textbook was a selling point for utilizing the textbook with students.
This is a well-organized textbook. Each chapter builds on prior chapters. Chapters are organized in a logical manner. The first chapter begins with the purpose of research questions and builds content to assist the reader in narrowing down options for research questions. The textbook progresses to assist the reader in building skills as an academic researcher throughout the textbook.
No interface issues were discovered during my initial exposure to the online format. I printed the PDF (because I still love paper) and all display features printed properly. The online navigation is easy to use and pleasing to the eye, as well.
No grammar issues were detected during my initial review of the textbook.
This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in my opinion.
This is an excellent textbook if you are looking to utilize it to introduce students to the academic research and writing process. Its layout and design and conducive to module-based instruction, and the content is well thought out and beneficial.
The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out. read more
The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out.
I found the accuracy to be good. The content is a good representation of what a student needs to know in order better understanding library research.
The content itself is good & should stand the test of time for the near future. The only exception is that even though it's only one year from the publishing date (2016) many of the links are broken. And I would have preferred a OER text that was geared more generally for application to any institution vs. the inclusion of OSU specific references, links, resources.
For a text written to a 4-year university/college audience the text was good. For a 2-year community college audience some of the terminology would need to be defined.
I found the consistency to be good. It followed through each section with including tips, activities, etc.
I think the modularity was good. And the text could easily be broken down into smaller sections to be used as units by themselves or refresher units. The only issue would be where there are links within a module that link to other modules. Add to this that these links didn't work-- I rec'd errors each time I tried a module link.
The overall organization and flow as great. As stated on p 6 ("... as though you are conducting a research project while reading them [the sections]...") this made my logical side happy.
I like the links to activities for students to practice the skills being taught. The problem though was that many of the links no longer work. Additionally, many of the links are to areas not available to users who are not affiliated with OSU. And as mentioned in another review section, module links to other modules didn't work either.
I found the grammar to be quite good with only a few exceptions or where it was clunky at times.
I thought the text was neutral in this area. Nothing that blatantly jumped out at me.
I appreciated the link to application of research to other areas of our lives outside of academic research. I try to get this point across to students, especially when they are hesitant and resistant to library research. I found the "tips" & "summaries" to be a nice added 'pop' & easy for referring back to later. I liked the bold letters/words for emphasis. And the suggestion to "brush up" on p 31 was a nice touch vs outwardly assuming they don't know. The downloadable templates are a great resource for students. Overall, I found the text to be a good resource.
This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using read more
This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an information need, evaluating source quality (and purpose), and how to perform complex searches. It also highlights several common areas where academic research can be performed, from the college library catalog to specialized databases and how to find academic sources on the free web. The book also covers what to do once sources have been found, including the importance of properly citing sources, ethical use of source material, and how to cite unusual or non-standard source material. It then moves into addressing the writing process: developing an argument and idea, writing tips, and a large section on copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain. The table of contents is very granular, which is helpful. The sections vary in length, but given the overall size of the book (190 pages) having a very specific TOC is useful when returning to the text as a reference source.
I did not find any objectionable or questionable content. The authors have done a good job of selecting examples for each section (often with associated online activities or examples linked out to the web) that are varied and unbiased, but also represent realistic examples of what students might be encountering during their research process. I was really pleased when looking through the section on citing sources - styles can change, but the book is written in such a way as to be comprehensive about the purpose of citing sources, and links out to many helpful web sources, citation tools, etc so the information will remain accurate in the textbook even if the style guides themselves are updated in the future. The section on copyright is similarly done.
See previous note - it is clear the authors have taken care to include examples that will remain relevant, not evaporate into popular culture, and provide flexibility where the content may be updated or changes (such as copyright law and citation style guides). They do provide a LOT of external links and activities, not all produced by Ohio State. So it's possible that some of their links may break in the future. It does appear that they have made an effort to either link to open sources they control, or which are unlike to change significantly (ie: government websites). If I were using this text, I would probably modify some of the resource sections (eg: databases) to reflect those that the students at my institution have access to, though the writers do make a point of identifying OSU access-only resources where applicable. I would also update the copyright/plagiarism section to include our college's student handbook blurbs, etc.
The tone is extremely approachable in all of the areas I checked. This is extremely important in academic research where there are a lot of areas of possible legal entanglement, and the authors have done a credible job of breaking down complex concepts into approachable prose and examples.
The textbook is consistent in both writing and structure; however, I do with the table of contents was split into sections in the same way the content is. Page numbers are given though, so that's not really a big deal. There were one or two places where I saw formatting errors, but nothing overly distracting - it did not adversely effect the content.
It is visually appealing and for the most part, easy to navigate. No huge blocks of text, and it also intersperses activities, tips, and examples. The text is also organized in such a way that it can be used as a reference, without needing to be read from start to finish in order to make sense, which is helpful for the researcher who may need to pop in for just pieces of the work. However, there is a strong presence of external sources (often OSU library webpages) and activities that are linked out of the text. The writing itself is certainly standalone, but the book would lose a lot of its character if it were printed and not viewed digitally. I would have liked a References or bibliographic section that listed some of these resources, but there wasn't one, meaning the user would not be able to search for the resource if the linked text didn't work.
I can see the potential for too many asides for activities to be distracting, but they are generally held to the end of their relevant sections, so it wasn't too overwhelming. The organization follows a logical research process, walking the reader through from beginning to end.
As mentioned before, there are a few places where it looks like images have distorted the intended formatting, pushing items to empty pages, etc. But these instances are rare. A few of the images could be higher resolution, but they were certainly legible (and I was viewing this text at 125% zoom on a larger screen, so my experience is probably not representative of every reader). It is long though, and I would have loved to be able to jump to sections through anchor bookmarks in the content page - that would be a nice touch. I also found a few broken links, which is not totally surprising, given the volume of them in this book.
None noticed in this review.
No objectionable content found - the authors have chosen inclusive examples wherever possible, while remaining realistic about subjects students might be researching.
Not all of the links to activities are self-describing (there are no plain URLs, but many of the activity links contain the same 'Open Activity in Web Browser' text, which would be confusing if a user was navigating with a screen reader.
The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the read more
The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they go through steps to narrow it down, walking students through the process. (p 9) Very thorough. They also spend a page and a half giving examples of “Regular Question” vs. “Research Question.” (p 13-14) This ensures that students will understand the difference. They also do well with explaining fact vs. option, objective vs. subjective, primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary sources, popular vs. professional vs. scholarly magazines, when to quote vs. paraphrase vs. summarize, and other concepts that are critical to performing research. The book does not have an index. The table of contents is quite thorough and very useful in understanding the breakdown of the book or locating certain topics.
The book is error-free.
There are many digital examples in the text. As long as authors make updates as technology inevitably changes in the future, the book should remain relevant.
The book has a conversational tone that is connective, trustworthy, and approachable for the undergraduate audience. This makes it easy to read and easy to understand.
The book is very consistent with tone, and terminology.
In the introduction, the book encourages students to “jump around a bit in this guide to meet your needs.” (p 5). The book stays true to this idea. Students could read the book straight through, but it is well-designed for “jumping around.” The sections stand alone, and instructors could easily assign sections in the book out of order. This book could be used as the only textbook in a classroom, or an instructor could use these modules to supplement an existing textbook. Topics are easily found in the book thanks to an excellent table of contents, a clear organizational structure, and a great use of headers.
The book is well-organized and follows a logical structure. Individual topics are also well-organized. The authors break processes into step-by-step, making is easy for students to learn.
Great use of visual aids. For example, there is a chart on how to narrow down research topic (p 9), and a chart on the roles of resources in research (p 179). These items are great for visual learners, and they make the text come alive while emphasizing important concepts. The book shares links to outside sources. This provides students that would like more information that is beyond the book with resources. It additionally provides students links to activities, such as one that asks them if a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary (p 34). On occasion, it links to outside companies, such as citation management software, news outlets, and social media, making the book a resource. In this way, the book utilizes the medium of a digital book.
The book is free of grammatical errors.
The book is culturally sensitive. The book is designed for Ohio University students. Examples given occasionally apply to Ohio, such as when the authors are providing examples of newspapers, they list two out of six that are from Ohio, including the campus newspaper (p 43) There is also a link to the OSU Libraries’ newspaper database (p 44), and when talking about citation management software, they mention the three that are available at OSU. It’s not a large enough issue that one should not use the book; it’s still easy to understand, but it is a limitation and worth mentioning to students.
I teach a 300-level English class on performing research and writing research papers. I plan to utilize this book next semester due to the excellent organization of modules, the approachable tone, and the great explanations and examples.
The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an read more
The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and an index. Some terms are defined in their appropriate chapters, but not all. Some students, particularly first-year or those who may be enrolled in developmental courses, would benefit greatly from a glossary. The activities, while appropriate for their contexts, are mixed in their effectiveness; some provide good feedback with clarification, but most offer little more than a smiley face for a correct answer or an “x” for a wrong answer with no other feedback.
For the most part, this book is accurate and unbiased, but one area where I noticed discrepancies is the chapter on citing sources. MLA released its 8th edition in April 2016, yet the examples provided are 7th edition. I also noticed errors in the example for APA; only the first word, proper nouns, and those following major punctuation marks are to be capitalized in article titles following APA formating guidelines. Regarding bias, the book is unbiased; however, I disagree with the discussion of news sources regarding mainstream versus non-mainstream (or mainline as used in the text); main-stream media includes "traditional" sources, e.g., television, newspapers, and radio, as opposed to online sources, especially social media. The authors’ inclusion of Fox News, a right-leaning national television news network, a contemporary of CBS, NBC, and ABC, as non-mainline rather than mainline shows bias, in my opinion. It’s difficult to find news from any news source, mainstream or not, right, left or center, that doesn’t have some bias or opinions in its reporting.
This textbook itself is written so that it will be relevant for a long time. However, there are some exceptions. The discussion of citation styles uses examples for MLA that reflect the 7th edition rather than the 8th, which was released in April 2016. The book covers this discrepancy somewhat with its tip regarding choosing a citation style, with its remarks that styles do change and its recommendation to check with one’s instructors. Another issue is the potential for link rot regarding external websites; in fact there are a few dead links in the text and activities already. A couple of online resources mentioned and linked to, IPL2 and the Statistical Abstracts of the US, have been retired for at least a couple of years, which makes me wonder about when the book was actually last reviewed edited.
The book is well-written, easy to read, conversational. Most technical language is defined and used appropriately.
This book is consistent in terms of its terminology and framework.
This book is extremely modular in its organization at the chapter level and within the chapters. It can be easily reordered to meet specific course or instructor needs. It does refer to other sections of the text, but these references are appropriate, emphasizing more in-depth information elsewhere in the book. Sections that are unique to OSU can be replaced/revised to make the text relevant to other institutions as needed.
It is well organized and reflects the processes and stages of research. While the research process is not linear, the topics are presented in a logical manner that guides students through the process. I did note that a couple of sections in chapter 7, on ethical use of sources don’t really seem to fit there, however. The paragraphs on page 118 discussing a lack of understanding of the materials and lack of time might fit better in other chapters.
While the online version works well, the PDF format has issues. Some of the in-text navigation links work (the TOC links) while others found throughout the text don’t, often giving an “error: unknown export format” message. There are also a few dead links in both the online and PDF formats, as well as in some of the online activities. Some links direct users to OSU Libraries’ resources, either their catalog or their licensed databases, but not all such links are clearly identified as such.
For the most part, this text is well-written, grammatically; however, it does have a few grammatical/typographical errors, possibly more than one might expect from a text of this length, and assuming that the author is most likely a committee rather than an individual, more eyes reviewing the text should catch such errors. There are also instances of tense inconsistencies, shifting from present to past in the same sentence. Two paragraphs on page 47, under “Finding Data in Articles . . .,” repeat the same four sentences verbatim in different order. This occurs again on page 88. While these are not grammatical errors, they are certainly editorial errors. Most of the online activities have typos, as well, more so than the textbook.
This textbook is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
I do like this book. I think it puts the topic in terms that students can readily use and understand. I'd even recommend the chapters on copyright and fair use to faculty! I do think that it could benefit from the inclusion of a glossary and an index, as well as regular and frequent review, especially in regards to the linked resources. The PDF version definitely needs revisions since it seems that most of the in-text referral links throughout the text don’t work. Since it is tailored to OSU’s library resources, any instruction librarian using the book can substitute content relevant to his/her institution; non-library faculty using the text can consult their own librarians for help with this.
Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through read more
Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator in a community college setting, I am working with students who are new to the research process. This text will be useful when working with students to start developing the appropriate process of research writing. The text has neither a back-of-the-book index nor a glossary. It is beneficial that key terms are defined throughout the chapters.
The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of the links do not work.
Content is up-to-date at this point in time. Most examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main text and can be updated as needed. Some of the content links to the Ohio State University Libraries databases which may not be assessable to students outside that institution.
This text is clearly written, well-illustrated, and user-friendly for the undergraduate audience. It avoids technical jargon and provides definitions where appropriate.
Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
Regarding the book’s modularity, users of this text can be selective in chapter choice. In this sense the text is useful to instructors and students who wish to focus on a single component and /or use the text as a reference. For a better understanding of the research process in its entirety, reading the text in the order written may prove to be more beneficial.
The text's organization mirrors the research process in a logical, clear manner. Chapters 1-8 lead the reader through the basics of research literacy and research skills; chapters nine and ten explain the process for making an argument and writing tips; Subsequent chapters zero in on copyright and Fair Use information. Key concepts and points are supported with highlights, examples and colorful illustrations.
The text displays generous use of visuals which are clear and free of distortion. The activities provided support the concepts and skills being addressed and are easy to navigate. One concern is the activities which are linked to Ohio State University may not provide access to all, resulting in limited access of information and frustration for the reader.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
• The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
This is a text does an excellent job of explaining the research process in a logical manner. The text uses examples, illustrations, and skill practice to support the learning process. I recommend this text for use in it's entirely for teaching and learning the research process and as a resource for the rest of us.
The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the read more
The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text employs tests and activities along the way. I found some of the activities were not particularly well designed and sometimes answers to questions were based on assumptions by the authors as to context that in real life may or may not be appropriate. For instance, they claim that the periodical/journal title "Coral Reefs" is a scholarly journal, but judging by the title alone in a real life exercise there is no way to know whether it is scholarly or popular in nature. There could have been more discussion about context and how it defines whether a sources is primary, secondary or tertiary. ' What the this textbook does not have is any kind of index or glossary, which I found disappointing.
I did not find any instances of inaccuracies in the text. I did find, however, some assumptions in the text that were not always warranted. I took issue with the assumption that mainline news sources are objective (p. 42). It is very clear that news articles are often biased. I think telling students that mainline news sources are objective effectively disarms instead of promotes critical thinking by students doing research. On page 126 there is a discussion about using quotations where the authors say that all quotes are to be put within quotation marks. This is not true of block quotes in MLA or APA style and they omit any mention of it.
This textbook should retain its relevancy for several years, but it will lose its effectiveness very soon, since many of the dozens and dozens of links in the text will surely break before long. In the short term the links are a great feature, but they do severely limit the longevity of the book. I also found them annoyingly pervasive. It should also be noted that the MLA citation example on page 122 uses the outdated MLA 7th edition guidelines.
Overall, I thought the book was very clearly written and easy to follow. The one section I struggled reading was the section on sources and information need. It seemed to want much more editing and was often wordy and almost obscure.
I did not notice any lack of consistency in terminology or framework.
This is one the book's strengths. It was clearly organized into topics and subtopics which sometimes could be addressed in an order chosen by an instructor. There were, however, occasional self-references to earlier sections or previously used external sources.
Moving from the simpler aspects of choosing and evaluating sources to the more complex uses of them and how arguments are constructed made good sense.
I found the interface to have significant problems. At least a dozen links would not work from the PDF text when opened in Firefox. I often got the message, "error: unknown export format." The links seemed to work when viewing the text online, however. The textbook's usefulness outside of Ohio State is severely limited by the frequent use of sources only available through OSU student logins. The textbook was written for OSU students, but it really fails as a textbook for any other institution unless it is significantly modified.
I found a few missing punctuation marks, and only two missing or wrong words in sentences. For a textbook this long, that's very good.
The textbook used interesting and non-offensive examples.
While it's a good textbook for choosing and using information sources it suffers from being too specifically written for OSU students, as well as including an overabundance of links that will reduce its longevity. Not including any kind of index or glossary is also a drawback.
Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers read more
Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3 includes a source plan (i.e. what do you need the sources for and what is your plan). Ch. 4 gives tips and hints for searching on a library database. Ch. 5 gives different search options, like the library or Google Scholar. Ch. 6 is all about evaluating the sources you find, including clues about sussing out bias and thoroughness, as well as discussing currency of topic. Ch. 7 discusses why you should cite sources. Ch. 8 discusses ways to cite sources. Ch. 9 is looking at argument as dialog and what is necessary in that exchange and a recommended order of components. Ch. 10 covers quoting, paraphrasing,and summarizing and signal phrases. Ch. 11, 12 are copyright and fair use. Ch. 13 covers the roles or research. I will use Ch. 1 and 2 in my classes, as I think the breakdown of research is useful and clear. Ch. 3 also has useful imbedded tools that will help students plan; Ch. 4 and 5 might be used as references post-library visit. I will also use Ch. 6 and Ch. 10. I think the information provided for distinguishing scholarly, popular, and professional is helpful and I hope the resources help students understand good, reliable sources a bit better. The same is true for searching for sources, and I think the sections on search engines and evaluation of sources are going to be quite useful. While the information on copyright, fair use, and why and ways to cite sources is fine, I won't be using these for my English classes as I find them not as helpful or relevant.
I think the book is quite accurate in terms of information provided. They use sources that both I and my students use, so clearly the book is addressing real needs in the classroom. It also makes suggestions that reinforce the concepts our librarians share with the students and instructors, so I find this to be extremely helpful.
The book suggests Purdue OWL, a source I also use; however, I realized this year that OWL was behind in updating some of the MLA citation changes. So that's something maybe for the book authors to note or address when recommending websites. With that said, I think the book covers key specifics like university library websites, Google Scholar, and search engines, in broad enough terms to keep it relevant. Also, the graphics are simple and not dated, and there is one drawing of the "outernet" that shows what social media, Youtube, etc. would look like in the "real, outer" world. This drawing is the only thing I saw that might be dated soon, but its point is still solid.
Very easy to read, clear terminology and explanation of terms, and lists are also provided to help break up each page's prose, which means the information is presented in a visually clear form as well.
I think the consistency of terminology as well as the scaffolding makes sense on the whole. I didn't seem places where the language changed or seemed to have several writers or definitions.
Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is how each chapter is contained, succinct, includes an activity, but still builds on and with the other chapters. Each chapter is stand-alone and clear and easy to read online, or if you chose to print it. The creators clearly had the online reader in mind, however, and the chapter lengths and fonts are comfortable.
Overall, I like the organization, specifically for chapters 10-6. I would change the order of the final chapters so that Ch. 9 and 10 come before Ch. 7, 8, 11, 12. I would also move Ch. 13 "The Roles of Research" to earlier in the book, perhaps around Ch. 3 or Ch. 6. If I use these materials, I will reorder some of the chapters for my class so that the scaffolding and explanations work a bit more side by side.
Again, comfortable, easy-to-read pages, simple graphics and the charts used are helpful and appropriate. I especially appreciated that the authors didn't use images that showed people or figures that could both date the book and also make students feel talked down to - I hate images like this and refuse to use textbooks that incorporate them, so kudos! Additional resources are easy to access. I wish the email option (for sending yourself a page) pulled up a screen in which I could type the email I wanted it sent to. Instead, it pulls up Messenger, which I don't use. The Table of Contents didn't let me jump to the chapter when I pulled down the menu. Was that just my computer/browser?
Now, I didn't read through as though I was grading (it is winter break, after all!) but nothing jumped off the page. If something had, if there had been a mistake, I would still use the text; if there had been several, I would have considered abandoning it for class. However, the information is still so good I i might have told my students to find the grammar mistakes as part of an assignment just so that I could use the research parts still; however, I didn't not see any.
No, nothing. Perhaps if the authors include more examples for citations they could pull from culturally different sources then, but the material here was so broad in terms of textual sources it was in no way exclusive.
I will be using parts of this book in my English classes. Well done to the authors - a helpful, free supplement.
Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements read more
Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research.
The text implements content from a host of sources which is extremely useful, but the grammar needs a few tweaks.
This represents a strong aspect of the text. The writers did a good job of winnowing out unnecessary components of the research process, although my freshmen would not delve into the Fair Use and Copyright chapters.
The book gets outstanding marks on clarity. Students will find this to be a definite strength of the text.
The authors did a good job with consistency. I kept my students in mind as I evaluated this aspect of the text.
Students would find this book extremely accessible in terms of modularity. I don't see them being overwhelmed by the text or high-brow jargon.
I noted a logical progression to all thirteen of the chapters. Students in upper-level classes would find the chapters on Fair Use and Copyright more significant in their academic studies.
The hyperlinks and the interactive elements of the book will be extremely appealing to students as well as being substantive.
The book still needs some work in this regard. Pronouns don't always agree with the antecedents, and I noted several shifts in voice in the text.
The text doesn't have any instances of cultural insensitivity, and I pay close attention to this aspect of textbooks when I peruse them for potential use in my courses.
The hyperlinks, using different types of media, and the chapters on "Why Precision Searching?" and the discussion of plagiarism proved to be well-crafted and accessible for students. I also commend the authors for the lack of jargon that would leave students in its wake.
A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the read more
A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm teaching an online section this term and find that the book offers a very effective substitute for the lectured and activities I'd otherwise be presenting in class.
This text is accurate and up-to-date with the most recent developments and issues in the field.
This text is very much up-to-date. It shows an awareness of changing conventions in academic writing, and emphasizes the latest technological tools for researching and managing citations. It frequently links to outside resources, which could be problematic in the event those resources were removed or relocated, but in practice I never encountered such an issue.
Clarity is one of the book's strengths. It is written in clear, simple, and concise prose, resisting the kind of "academese" that is frequently employed in textbooks and gives students a false impression of what academic writing should look like. I found all of the content very easy to understand, and, although it's intended for slightly more advanced classes, accessible for Freshman writing students.
The text is highly consistent, both in terms of the terminology it employs, its organizational structure, and its systematic incorporation of tips, learning activities, and quizzes.
The book is divided into 13 chapters, each of which addresses particular aspects of research writing and can be employed on its own, or in conjunction with other related chapters. I found that assigning chapters in order was generally perfectly appropriate, although there was no issue with assigning the odd chapter out of order - links to previous or later content are provided where appropriate, so students can easily navigate to other relevant sections of the text.
This text is very nicely organized. It moves from the beginning stages of the pre-writing process - choosing a topic and identifying appropriate guiding questions - through the research to the writing of the paper itself. I found that the organizational structure of the text very closely mirrored the structure I use myself in teaching research writing. As such, adopting this text for the course (and adapting the course to the text) was a delightfully straightforward exercise.
The interface of the text is excellent. It is very easy to navigate, very attractive, and all tools work as intended. Some features are only available to those with Ohio State University log-ins, which yields a handful of frustrating moments, but in general I didn't find this to be a significant issue.
The text is error free and written in a simple, accessible, and engaging style. It's not merely an easy read, but one that effectively models clear and concise academic prose for writing students.
To the extent such issues come into play, the text is inclusive and culturally sensitive. The content of the text is mostly neutral on such issues - they simply tend not to come into play - but I was pleased to find a comprehensive chapter on the ethical use of sources, which introduces an ethical dimension to the research and writing process that many students may not anticipate or otherwise be prepared to navigate.
Overall I was quite pleased with this text. In my online section of Research Paper Writing, I have assigned nine of the thirteen chapters, and am very pleased with the breadth of content covered thereby. With one exception, I've been able to assign those chapters in the order they appear in the book, which simplified the planning process for myself, and offers a structure to the course that will be more readily apparent to my students as well. Late chapters on Copyrights Basics and Fair Use struck me as unnecessary and a little off topic, but it is of course easy to simply not assign those chapters, and since this is not a print book they have no bearing on materials costs. For an online class like the one I am currently teaching, this is an excellent primary text. Even in a face-to-face class it could prove to be a very useful supplemental text. Normally I resist the use of supplemental texts in face-to-face classes, but since this one is free it is ideal for that purpose: instructors and students can simply rely on it to whatever extent feels useful.
This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research read more
This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly conversation. Students learn where and how to find relevant sources and how to evaluate and use them ethically. The main text is supplemented with links to useful resources, videos, worksheets, examples, and exercises. These are all high quality sources, making this a comprehensive resource for teaching information literacy and the research process. While no index or glossary is provided, terms are well defined within the text. Links are provided to other sections within the text where terms are further discussed.
The content is error-free, unbiased, and accurate. Ideas and concepts are in accordance with the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” with the exception of several small sections that could easily be clarified or adapted. The opening section of Chapter 3 states that researchers should find sources in order to meet their information needs. However, it states that one information need is “to convince your audience that your answer is correct or, at least, the most reasonable answer.” This should be clarified for students so that they understand that they should start their research with an open mind as opposed to looking for sources which support their predetermined thesis. The section “The Sources to Meet Needs” in Chapter 3 states that convincing one’s audience is an information need and that students should find sources based upon what their audience would be convinced by. Researchers should not choose their sources based upon what would convince their audience, but rather upon what sources best answer their research question. The most relevant and highest quality sources should not be omitted from the research process because the researcher does not think that his/her audience would be convinced by them. It is part of the researcher’s job to educate and convince his/her audience why the chosen sources and the research are relevant and of high quality. Chapter 13 mentions briefly, “Putting your sources to work for you in these roles can help you write in a more powerful, persuasive way—to, in fact, win your argument.” It is very important for researchers to make convincing arguments through using quality sources, doing quality research, and presenting the information in an understandable way. Students should understand that the goal of scholarly conversation is not to “win” arguments, but rather to contribute to the world’s shared knowledge. While one argument may hold for a time, it will most likely be refined in some way by future researchers.
The main content of each chapter is current and does not contain terms that will soon be outdated. Specific examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main chapter text and can be updated independently. Some of the content discusses and links to Ohio State University Libraries databases which are unavailable to students at other institutions. While some of this knowledge is transferable, the specific information about these databases is unique to OSU Libraries. It would be useful if this information could be generalized in the main flow of the text so that it would be applicable for students at other institutions.
This text is very readable and easy to understand. Concepts are explained clearly. Exercises and examples are provided to help students grasp each new concept. It is written in a casual tone that appears to make an effort to put its readers at ease while giving solid information about how to complete research and writing assignments successfully.
The terminology used in this book and its framework are consistent. Each chapter, chapter sections, examples, and exercises are organized in a consistent manner throughout the book, making it easy to follow. Students can refer to specific sections of the book or read it straight through. Because links are provided to sections of the book where important terms are defined or discussed further, students can easily jump to relevant sections of the book.
The book is divided into chapters and subsections which lead the reader seamlessly and logically through the research process. The book could easily be assigned to be read linearly, but it would also work well for instructors to assign specific chapters as applicable to the course content.
This book takes students through the research process in logical steps, from choosing and refining research questions, to producing and sharing what they have learned. For students who are unfamiliar with the research process, it would be most useful to read the book linearly as each chapter prepares students for future chapters.
This text is easy to navigate in both the PDF and online versions. Images are clear. There are currently no broken links. The contents in the PDF version could be made clearer by making a greater distinction between the main chapter and chapter section titles.
The text has negligible grammatical errors.
This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
I highly recommend this book for teaching information literacy and the research process to undergraduates.
This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search read more
This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of Contents for the book is available as a tab so that readers can view an overview of topics and jump to other sections at any time. This textbook offers a review of research methods that is certainly comprehensive. Instructors will likely find that individual sections, rather than the whole work, are most useful in planning lessons and constructing student assignments in research based and writing intensive courses at the undergraduate level.
This textbook is accurate in its representation of research methods and of the reasoning behind these approaches. In addition, details about citation styles, and search tools, seem error-free. Treatments of the more complex aspects of research, such as constructing an argument, are unbiased and thorough.
The textbook should be useful to students and instructors for some time. It should be noted, however, that research software and citation styles are updated, though infrequently. Thus, the video walkthroughs of particular databases, for example, may be obsolete or misleading after some time.
This textbook is remarkably lucid and approachable for undergraduate readers. Discussions of complex ideas are illustrated with useful graphics that readers and instructors will find particularly helpful. The video walkthroughs are perhaps the most attractive illustrations for instructors. These guides will be appealing and easy to use for students intimidated by large databases and their idiosyncrasies.
The textbook is immanently usable. It is consistent in its tone as well as in its use of terms.
It is clear that this textbook has been designed with modularity in mind. Individual sections will be more useful than others, depending on the type and level of the class. In addition, sections can easily be assigned at different points over the course of a semester. For example, sections might be assigned at intervals that reflect the stages of the development of undergraduate student’s independent research paper. The section on formulating research questions might appear early in the semester, the section on citation styles toward the end.
The organization of the book reflects the stages of research. This means that navigating the textbook will be intuitive.
Navigating this textbook will be intuitive, the Table of Contents tab makes moving between sections very easy.
Readers will find the textbook free of simple typos and errors.
Readers will find the textbook inclusive. Some readers may find that the attempt made in the textbook to speak to research in the humanities, social sciences and sciences has meant that discussions can be vague at times but this is to be expected in a textbook on this topic aimed at a broad range of readers and researchers.
This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a read more
This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus on finding and evaluating sources. The topics in this text are well-chosen and reflect several aspects of academic writing in which beginning researchers might struggle, such as how to do a precision search, understanding biased versus unbiased sources, and how to decide between quoting or paraphrasing. This book is written at a level that undergraduates should easily be able to comprehend, while the content of the chapters gets increasingly detailed and complex throughout the book. There is no index or glossary at the back of the book, but there is a very complete table of contents at the beginning of the text. Readers might find it useful if the chapter titles in the table of contents were in bold, as the detailed breakdown of sections—while helpful—can be overwhelming when one is looking for the main categories of the book.
The text provides helpful and unbiased examples for how to do research in many different areas. The practice activities relate quite well to the content of the chapters, although some links do not work. One of the strengths of the text is its applicability in a general sense to many different types of research.
In most chapters the information is kept very general, allowing the text to enjoy relative longevity, as the process of how to conduct academic research, cite quotes, etc., likely will not change drastically in the near future. For example, in the section on databases, different types of databases are explained, but the author does not reference many specific databases to which students may or may not have access. With an understanding of the concept, students then are equipped to find the databases that pertain to their field and that are offered by their institutions. There are several references to Ohio State throughout the text that will not be helpful to all readers, but they do not impede the reader’s comprehension of the text.
It is a very readable text, written at a level that makes it easily accessible to undergraduate students. The author has avoided jargon that would be confusing to the readers.
Even though the book gives examples of various types of research and sources, it maintains a high level of consistency throughout.
The chapters are clearly divided in a way that allows the reader the option to skip between chapters or to read the chapters in succession. This text could be put to a variety of uses within the classroom. As an instructor, one could use it as a primary text for a Research Methods or Composition class. One could also suggest that students read only certain sections in a class that was not primarily focused on the writing of research papers but that had a research component. This text is a valuable how-to manual that students can reference throughout their academic journey.
The text has a logical organization and flow. The book transitions from more basic information at the beginning to more specialized knowledge in later chapters, allowing students to gradually become more immersed in the topic. The structure permits students to read the text from cover to cover, or to read only the information and chapters about which they are curious. The activities serve as good checkpoints to assess students’ knowledge and break up longer readings.
The interface of the text is easy to manage and does not distract from the content. The placement and accessibility of the activities provide quick and easy checks to assess whether students have understood the concepts of the chapters. The images support the text and are linked closely to the message.
There are few grammatical errors in this text.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. Like many textbooks, it could be more intentional in its inclusion of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, perhaps in the examples or practice activities.
The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing read more
The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of academic writing not just research papers. The information is relevant across disciplines and readable to a wide audience. It is clearly written for and geared towards undergraduate students, particularly from Ohio State University. The index is detailed making it easy to locate specific information and includes hyperlinks for clear navigation. A slightly altered index format would make the chapter topics more readily available and accessed. All subjects and chapters are aligned rather than clearly indicating each of the chapters found within the text.
Content throughout the book is accurate and clearly written. There does not appear to bias in reading the material. The book includes numerous resources linked throughout the text, however some are no longer active resulting in error messages.
Due to the significant number of links throughout the book, it is likely updates will be necessary on a consistent basis. These links are extremely beneficial, so ensuring they are accurate and up to date is essential to the content of this book. Much of the book reads as a "how to" regarding sources, so although practices for scholarly writing will likely not become obsolete the sources and technology used to locate the sources will evolve.
The informal tone of the text is engaging and applicable for the intended audience. The writers are aware of their audience, avoiding technical jargon. Also, throughout the book they provide numerous examples, resources, activities, and tips to provide insight and relevancy to students.
The structure of the book is clear and well organized with each chapter providing scaffolding for the next. Although the text is internally consistent regarding terminology there are formatting differences between and within some chapters. Blue boxes throughout the text contain tips, examples, answers, etc. Organization, readability, and consistency could be improved if these were constant throughout the text similar to the presentation of activities in the text.
Sections of the book could be easily assigned and read in isolation. Subsections of material are clearly marked and chapters are presented in organized fashion with clear delineation between segments. The inclusion of numerous activities, examples, resources, and tips improve modularity.
The book is created as a tool for students completing academic writing and follows this course. Topics contained in the book are presented in a clear and logical structure. As mentioned above, with exception of the first chapter, the material is relevant to all undergraduate academic writing, not just research.
The layout and display work well as a PDF or electronic book. Numerous visuals are included throughout and are free of distortion or other distracting or confusing issues. As mentioned above, the index could be improved by clearly articulating the subheadings as within a chapter.
The book contains minimal to no grammatical errors.
The book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
Some sections of the book are specific to Ohio State University potentially limiting its relevancy and audience in specific chapters or sections.
While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the read more
While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is unlikely to be used in its entirety for any single college course. Information literacy and research skills courses will find the first eight chapters to be a robust introduction to their subject matter, replete with interactive activities and auto-graded assessments. Composition courses engaged in research-based writing will likely work through the first eight chapters selectively, but then dwell on chapters nine and ten on argument formation and writing. Such courses may also benefit from the excellent chapter thirteen on Joseph Bizup's BEAM method of deploying research sources in scholarly communication. Chapters eleven and twelve on copyright and fair use, respectively, are likely to be used only by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and professional librarians, but they do serve as a handy reference nonetheless.
All of the chapters of this textbook contain authoritative and accurate information, in line with national information literacy standards and sound pedagogical methods for composition and critical thinking. The only section of the text I took issue with was the "Fact or Opinion" part of the second chapter, where the authors try to distinguish between fact, opinion, subjective information, and objective information. The authors' attempt results in claims like "the death penalty is wrong" being rendered as opinions, while claims like "women should stock up on calcium to ensure strong bones" are judged to be subjective information. Facts and objective information are superior, on this way of thinking, because they are the result of research studies, particularly empirical, quantitative ones. I suspect that this way of drawing the distinction would do little to challenge the naive relativism most undergraduates bring to the classroom. (How many of us, when analyzing a text with beginning undergraduates, have had to entertain the question "Isn't that just the author's opinion though?") A better approach would be to talk about claims that are empirically justified (facts), claims that are justified, but not empirically (value judgments - "x is wrong", prescriptive claims - "women should do x"), and claims that are not adequately justified by any means (opinions). In this way, answering a research question like "Is the death penalty unjust?" is not merely an exercise in subjective opinion-making, but rather an exploration of reasoned argumentation, only some of which may be empirical or based on research studies.
The text is current and will likely be so for some time. Examples, activities, and tips are marked off from the main chapter prose, so will be easy to refresh when necessary.
There is no lack of technical terms in the world of information studies, but this textbook does a fine job of providing definitions where appropriate in each chapter. Concepts and methods are explained in context, and illustrative, easy-to-follow examples adorn each chapter. The only area of the text that falls a little short on clarity is the interactive activities. These are usually multiple choice or matching questions, but some of the word choice in questions left this reader confused, and in some cases the instructions could have been more explicit.
Being authored by committee, we might expect this textbook to suffer in the consistency category. Yet it does not, thanks again to the fine editing job by Cheryl Lowry. Perhaps the book's provenance as a series of online tutorials put together by librarians and faculty at OSU is partly responsible for this.
As the authors suggest on the first page, the research process isn't always linear. So reading a text modeled on the research process oughtn't to be a straightforward chapter-by-chapter march either. Consequently, faculty and students can comfortably read this text selectively and skip chapters as needed. For the most holistic understanding of the research process, however, it would be sensible to work through at least chapters one through eight in their entirety.
I appreciate how the text's organization mirrors the research process itself. The first chapter takes on research questions, exactly where student researchers need to begin their projects. Subsequent chapters explore types of information sources, how to find and evaluate them, and finally how to deploy them in a well-argued scholarly product. The writing in each chapter is clear and crisp, with important concepts amplified by colorful visualizations. As mentioned above, the chapters on copyright and fair use which occur near the end of the book feel like a logical interruption to the book's flow, and they might well fit more comfortably as appendices for occasional reference by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and librarians.
The "look and feel" of this textbook is clean and very intuitive to navigate through. The design strikes a pleasing balance between prose, graphics, and special formatting features like the explanatory, grey-background "TIPS" found in each chapter. Subheadings, bulleted and ordered lists, and judicious font choices make the text easy to read in all its online file formats. One weakness of the interface is that several of the linked activities point to OSU Libraries' resources, thus requiring OSU authentication to be accessed. While it is understandable that the authors wanted to include their libraries' proprietary information sources in the activities - these are the sources their students and faculty will be using in actual practice, after all - this obviously makes this text less of an "open" textbook. Those outside of the OSU community who would like to adopt this textbook will therefore have to come up with their own replacement activities in such cases, or do without. A few of the links in the text did lead me to a curious OSU server error message: "Error: Unknown export format", but I expect these links will be repaired as they are reported to the authors.
This textbook has clearly been edited with careful eyes by Cheryl Lowry, as grammatical errors are few to none. The grammatical hygiene of the text can probably also be attributed to its collective authorship - over a dozen librarians and faculty of the Ohio State University Libraries developed the content, which was born out of a series of online tutorials.
This textbook is culturally relevant in its use of examples and depictions of college students.
This text is a substantial contribution to the open textbook movement, and its quality easily meets or exceeds anything comparable in the commercial publishing arena. Highly recommended.
Table of Contents
- 1. Research Questions
- 2. Types of Sources
- 3. Sources and Information Needs
- 4. Precision Searching
- 5. Search Tools
- 6. Evaluating Sources
- 7. Ethical Use of Sources
- 8. How to Cite Sources
- 9. Making an Argument
- 10. Writing Tips
- 11. Copyright Basics
- 12. Fair Use
- 13. Roles of Research Sources
About the Book
Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and help you apply them. There are also appendices for quick reference on search tools, copyright basics, and fair use.
What experts are saying about Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research:
“…a really fantastic contribution that offers a much needed broadened perspective on the process of research, and is packed to the brim with all kinds of resources and advice on how to effectively use them. The chapter on plagiarism is really excellent, and the chapter on searching for sources is utterly brilliant.”
– Chris Manion, PhD
Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum at Ohio State University
“… an excellent resource for students, with engaging content, graphics, and examples—very compelling. The coverage of copyright is outstanding.”
– J. Craig Gibson
Co-chair of ACRL’s Task Force on Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education
About the Contributors
Cheryl Lowry, training and education specialist, Ohio State University Libraries.