After attending many of the presentations by college librarians at the Ohio Educational Library Media Association Conference in October, I found that overall these librarians stressed the need for high school seniors to become familiar with the following concepts and tools:
1. Using a citation generator program such as Noodletools or EasyBib. Many students arrive at college without the slightest clue as to how to cite sources (other than books or basic web sites) or how to use an electronic citation generator to organize their resources. They do not realize that the course content dictates the citation style and that if they were to use a citation generator program, that it would format the citation in the style that they need – be it APA, Chicago Turabian, or MLA.
2. Being able to develop a topic into a research paper. They have difficulty narrowing down broad topics and writing thesis statements.
3. Using multiple search strategies – their first choice is Wikipedia or Google; they do not use Wikipedia for the resource/reference lists at the end of the articles or as a starting point to have a better understanding of their topic. They have difficulty navigating databases, electronic books, or using OhioLINK’s Union catalog. They don’t realize that in Ohio they have access to books from every college library through Cuyahoga County Public Library’s partnership with OhioLINK’s free interlibrary loan program.
4. Identifying potential sources for information. They don’t realize that information can be found in journals, databases, books, and websites. They don’t know how to save and bookmark the resources that they do find when using databases so that they easily access the resources that they have found without re-doing the entire search.
5. Knowing how to take detailed notes when conducting research. They cut, copy, and paste their way through writing research papers. They do not know how to synthesize information, read critically, and draw their own conclusions. Often times, when they submit their papers via plagiarism detection programs, they are amazed that their papers are flagged for plagiarism.
6. Being able to manage their time when conducting research. They under-estimate the amount of time it will take them to gather their resources, read and evaluate the material, write and compose the paper – they end up stressed because they’ve run out of time.
7. Understanding the difference between facts and opinions. They have a hard time discerning bias in articles or hidden agendas behind web sites.
8. Understanding remote authentication for access to databases. They do not understand that they need to use passwords or work through the school’s proxy system to gain off-campus access to these paid resources.
9. Understanding the resources found in databases. They are not certain if they are looking at articles from journals or newspapers, they do not understand that sometimes database articles will not have an author listed, but will instead have been written by a staff writer. They do not know how to pull apart citations to know what type of information they have retrieved from their search.
10. Knowing how to search a database or library catalog – using advanced search strategies to find information. Sometimes students are unable to go into the library and find books by just using call numbers. They don’t understand that material is organized by subject content and they don’t understand that there are two library systems: Dewey and Library of Congress.