Victor’s Post

I must say that I quite enjoyed following Susan and Edward in their research. Although I think we all have different ways of “getting the job done,” it is also imperative to give students some guidelines about research and direct them to more appropriate resources. In our day an age, because of the almost unrestrained access to information we hold, information literacy is an extremely important skill. To be honest, there is not much I have to say, except reiterate how important it is to engage properly (systematically, discerningly) with a given topic. McClure very insightfully points out Susan’s lack of engagement with her research, and I believe that as instructors we must begin by trying to encourage students to find topics that they are interested in, or at least to find a particularly interesting aspect of a topic they have been assigned. Once that has been achieved, students should realize how helpful yet ultimately insufficient Wikipedia and Google are. Of course, I use these resources all the time, but they seldom yield very advanced or insightful results. They are seductive, of course. I would like to take an example from last class: in reading one of the student essays that Professor Blankenship brought to class, a quote by Emerson caught my eye (it didn’t “sound” like Emerson, perhaps too pop, too modern). I looked it up on Google, and many, many websites (Goodreads included) attributed it, in fact, to Emerson, but failed to give its source. I eventually found a couple of sites that identified it as a misattribution of a passage from E.E. Cummings’s “A Poet’s Advice.” The point, however, is that I had to go out of my way to discover this, and this is something that we seldom want to do. (Also, this is not meant to harm the student’s grade!!). As McBeth’s tip sheet for the RefAnnBib shows, research is not necessarily an easy process—it must be thoughtful and organized. It must be, as the title belies, reflective. So I’m thinking that meditation can also be a good thing to practice while we are doing research!