Discussion: Cathedrals and Bazaars: Discussing Scholarly Publishing and Open Access with Undergraduates

Elise’s RIOT post led to a rich discussion of the limitations of the one-shot instruction session, how to discuss the economics of information in that limited time period, and how we can work with faculty across disciplines to help students understand and evaluate different models of scholarly publishing.

Elise mentioned the Library Class that she and Shiela Winchester developed to discuss scholarly publishing practices.  The session was developed with graduate students in mind, but Elise wondered what it would look like to redevelop the session for an undergraduate audience and what changes would be necessary to make in an effective discussion of topics like open access for that audience.

As Elise mentioned in her post, the authors suggest that when we spend so much time teaching about how to find information and use tools, we don’t have time to talk about all the nuances of the scholarly conversation.  Time is a barrier to explaining such a complicated issue.

A few threads of the conversation that followed:

  • How can we address the journal pricing crisis in a way that resonates with undergraduates?
  • When we tell students that they should use our great resources because they won’t have access to them after they graduate, how does that make the tools and information meaningful to students who won’t continue as scholars?
  • Elise mentioned using the Peer Review in 5 Minutes video from NCSU on research guides to embed this information in the support she provides courses.
  • The publishing model of Wikipedia can be an entry point into this discussion with undergraduates.
  • Discussion of authority lead to deeper discussion of publishing models and why information is being published in a certain place.
  • Kristen mentioned getting students to try out different searches in different tools and evaluate the results without making distinctions between whether it was being provided by the library or another information services.
  • April talks a lot about evaluating business government resources that are often free and open.  Students crave a checklist and don’t necessarily want to deal with the nuances of critical evaluation.
  • Kristen likes to see the discussion in assignments of seeking the “authoritative source” rather than an emphasis on a “peer-reviewed source.”
  • Brittany talked about how her work with public relations students requires discussions of corporate responsibility and communications.  For example, when evaluating PR literature, it’s important to understand the relationships between brands and corporations. Dove’s empowerment messages for women become even more problematic when you recognize the same company owns Axe Body Spray.  Evaluation becomes an endless series of asking “Why?” and/or “So what?”
  • The discussion ended with some consideration of how students struggle to recognize formats and how this is complicated even more with new publishing models, like open access journals and repositories.  As formats for scholarly publishing change, how are they impacting citation practices? Students already struggle to follow style guidelines for websites versus newspapers published online, for example.

 

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