Tag Archives: research

Your Teenager is My College Freshman: 5 Things to Tell Them Before They Get a Research Paper


I know some of you have kids in high school or maybe even headed to college this Fall.  Because of this, I would like to share with you some pointers from my day-job: I am a college Librarian.  I do research for a living.

I love my job. I am surrounded by books, and good people, and really nice students who just want some information in order to get their assignment completed.  I am not a brain surgeon, so I have very little stress…but if you knew, what I know about your children and their school habits…yikes!

Now these are great things to remember for anyone doing research- I don’t care if you are looking for the best car to drive, or the latest diet to follow…Good practices in finding Good Information is here:

1. Books are awesome:

They have in depth scholarship- articles are for recent information from other researchers in a particular field (nutrition, biology, education), and the web is for recent statistics, surveys, blogs from possibly questionable “authorities on a subject”…There is a lot of information out there, so looking at WHO an author is, is key.

2. Bing, Yahoo and Google have about 0.03% of all information on the internet…

Yes that is 0.03%- the rest of the web (about 500 times this amount of information )is called the “deep web” or “invisible web”.  But it isn’t as scary or invisible as the name makes it sound. Really, it just means that all this hidden info. Is just pay-to-view information.  Places like the college library…that is what your tuition is paying for: access to the information. Bonus.

3. Once you find some of this “hidden web,” even then, not everything is online!

Echemm. Books.   There are people whose job it is to physically put older print books online, by digitizing them in a way that they can be found again, and publishers of the books don’t always love this…they lose out on the money making part…So because of copyright, or money, the books and print journal articles are often not available to download in full… so check out the print versions or see if the librarian can get it for free!

4. Taking information without saying where you got it is…

#1 wrong. #2. Illegal. #3 Can get you kicked out of school.
This is the principle of copyright and even if you put it in your own words…the information came from someone else…So give them a little credit. This is called citation– something they don’t really teach AT ALL in school…maybe because the kids aren’t being tested on it…but I digress.

5. Ask a Librarian

Don’t be scared. It is what they are there for!  Ask them anything about how to research or cite a source or find a topic, or whatever. They love it.

I see a lot of “good” students who are terrible are researching a topic.  They learned how to type and search the internet in their computer classes, but somehow the basics are missing. Just an FYI, I also see a lot of adults who are also terrible at research- just because they have never learned how to do it since they were way younger, and the library was way different! It can be scary for anyone to not “know” something. So that is why I am telling you this: Freshmen have enough to worry about, without worrying about the library too!

This is not just my opinion.  There are lots of studies on it: source1, source2, source3, source 4.

73% of all students are confused by how to do research while at college.  Seriously. They need more help than you think! Share this post with someone who needs it!