This is a guest post by Rebecca Starkey and Greg Fleming. We invite you to review previous installments in our series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
In this recent blog series, the importance of promoting academic honesty when planning your courses and assignments has been highlighted. Academic honesty is not something that can be taught at orientation or a single class session. Rather, it is a foundational research skill that takes time for a novice researcher to understand, practice, and master.
You can see how these skills can develop throughout a student’s program of study. While most entering undergraduates may understand the need to include a bibliography of sources when writing a paper, they may not initially realize that they need to cite whenever using an original idea or paraphrasing texts. As their research becomes more complex, using primary and secondary sources, students will need to learn how to develop a research system to organize and cite the wide variety of materials they are using—from images and archives to data and digital collections. When embarking on larger research projects such as theses, they must also be introduced to how their own work engages in the broader scholarly conversation.
At the Library, we often encounter undergraduates focusing on how they format their citations in various styles rather than why. They lack an understanding of the role citations play in discovering important works in their field and how often they are being used by other scholars. Instruction on these important threshold concepts can help students understand the meaning behind the practices in research ethics.
Scaffolding Skills through Library Research Education
Library research education can play an important role in teaching research skills over time. Below are examples of possible library research learning outcomes to scaffold specific research skills at different stages:
Novice Researchers / Introductory Course
- Knowing when to cite a source when writing a paper or working on a project.
- Identifying the standard citation style guide in their discipline and citing the sources correctly.
Intermediate Researchers / Methods Course
- Determining how to cite standard primary sources in the discipline (archives, data, digital collections, media, etc.)
- Understanding the difference between annotated bibliographies vs. literature reviews
- Organizing sources to prevent errors and unintentional plagiarism (citation management and note taking).
Advanced Researchers / Thesis Seminar
- Using citations (who cited whom) for identifying influential authors or works
- Placing your research in the broader scholarly conversation.
Librarians are happy to work with instructors to create customized instruction programs for courses or online learning modules that can teach these concepts. We also welcome working with instructors on designing assignments to help students put research skills into practice.
Other Library Resources for Instructors
The Library’s teaching services promote the development of a variety of valuable research skills, including academic honesty. Below you can find information about our Teaching and Learning Services and some ready-at-hand tools that can be useful for your courses.
Request Library Instruction for Your Course – Sharing information about your course or assignment, you can request the Library host a program or create a learning object (video, tutorial, etc.) to support your students.
How do I cite resources? – This guide points students to common citation manuals available through the Library for various disciplines, along with other helpful writing resources.
Sage Research Methods Core – Includes helpful ebooks and guides on research methodologies and techniques for various disciplines. After your search, select “Content that is available to me” for sources available through the UChicago Library.
Citation Management – Citation managers help researchers collect, organize, and cite their sources. They also provide additional features for note taking and collaboration. The Library offers webinars and consultations on Zotero (freely available) and EndNote (University discount available). Citation managers can be very effective in improving research practices and can help prevent unintentional plagiarism due to poor notes or organization.
Research Data Management – The Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship provides support for research data management (or RDM), or the organization, citing, storage, preservation, and sharing of research data created and used during a research project. Our librarians can also provide advice on selecting and using Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN) for accurate documentation in scientific research.
Meet with a Library Expert – Students can always make an appointment with the librarian for their subject area or major—including guidance on citing resources.
To learn more about the Library’s teaching programs, please contact Rebecca Starkey, Head of Research and Instruction Services.