May 2010 Site of the Month

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May 2010 Site of the Month
Finding Resources for Your Literature Review: Leaving No Stone Unturned
Librarians: Robin Veal, Erin Brothen, Kim Staley, Erika Bennett, Susan Skrien, Sommer Berg, Jennie Simning, Martha Ruddy, Molley Hagen and Sam Friedman
Media and Web Design: Christina Dimeo, Pat Lapinski, Chris Adams and Ruth Hjelmgren
Interviewee: Robin Veal
Institution: Capella University

Interviewer: Robert Schroeder

Tutorial Description:  The purpose of this project was to create a comprehensive mini-site which would help learners organize and find resources in preparation for writing their literature review (for a paper or their dissertation). Included in this tutorial are separate media pieces on the topics of sources, keyword searching, bibliographic mining and cited reference searching, using dissertations and searching by methodology. This project was a collaboration between librarians, faculty and interactive design.

Q: Who did you have in mind as the primary users of this tutorial?
A:  The primary users of this tutorial are PhD students who need to find resources for the literature review for their dissertation or a literature review for their coursework.

Q: The tutorial has a real professional feel and look. How many people worked together on the project? What kind of jobs did they have?
A: One librarian led the project and contributed content. Two other librarians wrote and designed the four Captivate tutorials. One interactive designer was responsible for the overall look of the tutorial (in close consultation with the library) and created the “shells” for the Captivate tutorials. The interactive designer also designed the two of the tutorials based on scripts provided by the library.  Librarians and other Capella staff provided voice talent for several of the tutorials and the audio was recorded and edited by Capella’s videographer in the university’s studio. Other library staff gave feedback on the tutorials and helped edit them.

Q: What kind of software did you use to create the tutorial?
A: The librarians used Captivate Software for the tutorials. The interactive designer used Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash to create the overall look of the tutorial.

Q: How long did it take you to complete all of the sections of the tutorial?
A: Five months.

Q: In what ways is the tutorial being used by the PhD students? Is it assigned by a faculty member? Do the students mostly just do parts of it, or the whole thing? Or are librarians referring students to it?
A: The tutorial in its entirety or individual pieces of the tutorial are both being put in courses as appropriate. Librarians direct learners to parts of the tutorial or the entire tutorial when doing reference. We have used it as pre-work for the PhD students’ in-person sessions on finding resources for their literature review, and also use the tutorial as an outline for the session.

Q: What were the most surprising things you learned while doing this tutorial?
A: When planning the tutorial I was surprised that tutorials on doing a literature review focused so little on finding resources. They mostly focused on evaluating and synthesizing, which is important, however learners can’t get to this point without having a strategy for finding resources. It has been my experience as a librarian that learners experience anxiety over the scope of resources needed for the project and have trouble focusing on analyzing and synthesizing the resources, until they have set aside some of those concerns.

Q: Have you done any formal or informal assessment of the tutorial? What do the students think of it?
A: No formal assessment, however we have gotten informal assessment from both faculty and students and it has been positive. The library as a whole is working this year on adding a more formal assessment component to our tutorials, including this one.

Q: There are 5 sections to the tutorial - do students seem to do, or comment on, certain sections more often?
A: The tutorial was completed and released in November of last year and so far no comments on specific sections. We are in the process of implementing LibGuides (May 2010) and all of the parts of the tutorial will be in various guides. Learners can leave comments in LibGuides so we may get more specific feedback on certain sections.

Q: Are the PhD students mostly from one or two disciplines? I was wondering how you address the various ways literature reviews are done in different disciplines, or how "primary sources" differ in the humanities, social sciences, and the hard sciences.
A: PhD learners are from the education, business, technology, psychology, social work and public service disciplines. The schools within Capella define primary resources as research studies. In some way, shape, or form the primary resource, usually a journal article, must have an introduction, literature review, methodology section, discussion and conclusion; in addition to being in a peer-reviewed journal. A few disciplines, for example technology, rely on literature that may not meet these criteria and in that case learners may use “primary” resources their faculty have determined are appropriate for their discipline.

Q: I noticed that you give the students three different ways to keep track of their searches and organize their findings ( RefWorks, a Database Research Log, and a Scholarly Research Log - for more detail see  Do you find one is more popular? In your mind why do students chose one method over the others?
A: We do a lot of promotion around RefWorks, so I would say that is the most popular way to organize their research. They like RefWorks for the ability to create a bibliography/reference list and do some of the APA formatting.

Q: I noticed that one of the "cited by" searching tools you recommend is Google Scholar. In my instruction sessions, mostly to freshmen, I'm finding that more students have used Google Scholar to search with, but they are not aware of the "cited by" feature or that they can link to many of our university’s journal subscriptions with it. What is your experience with PhD students’ exposure to and use of Google Scholar?
A: Our learners love Google Scholar once they learn about it. We need to constantly caution them about its limitations and using it in place of searching the library databases directly. However one way we encourage them to use it is for the cited reference searching. We do not have Social Sciences Citation Index, so it is a good tool for seeing both journal articles and other resources that have cited a particular resource. It also seems easier to explain using this tool for cited reference searching, than explaining the various ways our other databases do it, by database vendor and that is only searching the holdings of that database.

Q: From your experience with creating this tutorial what tips would you give to others who are contemplating building one?
A: If you are able to collaborate with instructional designers or media departments at your institution I would highly recommend it - relying on their expertise to implement the technical details of the tutorial, allowed the library team to focus on the instructional content of the tutorial.

May 2010 PRIMO Site of the Month