Conditions of Use
The Introduction to College-Level Research provides a straightforward and thorough review of the research process. The five chapters cover the primary elements students should be considering as they become proficient in locating, evaluating, and... read more
The Introduction to College-Level Research provides a straightforward and thorough review of the research process. The five chapters cover the primary elements students should be considering as they become proficient in locating, evaluating, and using information. Being a student centered textbook, I can understand why there isn't any mention of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy or a specific section that discusses why this book was created, but these are elements that would be helpful for instructors using this textbook outside of the institution. Additionally, as this appears to be for a specific course, including a glossary of terms would be helpful as a reference. While definitions are provided throughout each chapter, they can get lost in the text.
The content appears to be accurate, error-free and unbiased. Any included references were relevant and functioned properly. I appreciated that, in the section concerning Wikipedia, the authors did address the issue that the majority of editors are male and there are inherent biases and exclusions in those articles.
Given that these chapters cover topics with a general approach, it is unlikely that this content will be obsolete in the near future. However, some of the images from the institution's interface may become outdated.
The authors clearly define concepts and terms, and provide excellent examples throughout. Some of these examples, however, may edge into the overwhelming for novice researchers. A particular example is the graphic provided in the Boolean Operators section, 3.2. The very detailed search example (that includes AND, OR, and NOT with nesting) is simultaneously effective and a lot to take in. I very much appreciated their approach of including "strengths" and "weaknesses" at the end of certain section; this summarized information very concisely and helps demonstrate that there isn't one source or tool that is perfect.
Despite being written and compiled by the Library Instruction Services unit, this book manages to have a consistent voice and approach to how each chapter and subsequent section is presented.
Keeping to 5 chapters with quick subsections makes this book easy to use and read, either as a professor assigning work or a student using it as a resource. The sections are, for the most part, very reasonable in length, and the ones that verge on being too long are appropriately divided. I did not find the text to be disruptive.
The book is thoughtfully organized with a clear and simple structure. The order of the chapters is logical and follows a typical research process.
No issues noted with the interface. The occasional “check your understanding” quizzes were very effective and added to the overall experience of using the textbook online.
I did not note any grammatical errors during my review of the text.
The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Generally, all their examples and screenshots were very generic and represented authors from different backgrounds and fields of study. However, there is certainly opportunity to provide more inclusive examples or to discuss critical information literacy and social justice.
Overall, a good resource for an introductory college research course. It is simple in its approach, which makes the material approachable for novice researchers. For instructors not at the home institution wanting to use this book, certain sections may be confusing for students given the very specific screenshots, but this is expected given it’s attachment to the 160 course offered at Iowa State University. It would be useful to have more details about the course itself and the institution, as well as the makeup of the Instruction Services team that authored this source.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting started with research
Chapter 2: Locating information
Chapter 3: Search techniques
Chapter 4: Evaluating information
Chapter 5: Using information ethically
About the Book
You will learn how scholarly information is produced, organized, and accessed; how to construct and use effective search strategies in a variety of web tools and scholarly databases; how to choose finding tools appropriate to the type of information you need; critical thinking skills in the evaluation of resources; and best practices in the ethical use of information.
About the Contributors
Iowa State University Library Instruction Services, Iowa State University