Friday, May 25, 2012

Google "Research" Tool

First off, let me have a slight panic moment: why is Google trying to make librarians obsolete? Since they don't necessarily even understand what we do?

Having said that, let me tell you a little bit about a new "research" tool on Google. I read an interesting (depressing) review on the Chronicle's ProfHacker blog about Google docs' addition of a Research Tool (official language). Basically, users can highlight select portions of text in a Google doc, click on the Tools menu, and have Google try to find a matching citation on the web. Recent changes to the feature allow users to limit to Google Scholar and make citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago. I will also state that at least two people in the comment fields had written reviews earlier in the week only to have Google update the Research Tool, thus rendering their reviews obsolete. So as you read this post, keep in mind some of the features may have changed.

The research tool has pros and cons.

Students really struggle with citation.
Having a tool to show them how to do it will help
Will students actually learn the citation style for their discipline?
And how important is that?
Students will have help doing research with tools that are familiar to them.Information literacy is an important component of an academic library.
Using this tool is no proof that students actually understand the concepts of information literacy.
Students can limit their search to academic resources.What guarantee is there that the students will read more than the abstract if they can't access the article?
Might help cut down on plagiarismBut will students do the research themselves and then write the paper?
Or will they write the paper and then try to find sources that fit what they wrote?

I'm sure there are more pros and cons than what I listed.

What I found most shocking were the comments from the faculty members at the bottom of the page. I felt as though none of them addressed the possible pitfalls of the tool. Granted none of them were librarians, and perhaps I am being reactionary.


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