March 2008

The new LibQual survey is coming out soon. We know from the previous surveys that (1) the library atmosphere needs help (renovations are coming this summer) and (2) students are still relying on Google, Wikipedia and other non-scholarly resources for research more than the teaching and library faculty would like.

shamrocksIn the long battle over using Google or Wikipedia, some faculty say “never use them” others say use them wisely, like you would any tool. For those of you who would be willing to do the latter, but need a little help, I have created the following tutorial — based on a help session, which turned out to be the perfect IL storm. It guides the student through Google, Wikipedia, and the cited source in Wikipedia, Online Catholic Encyclopedia, a resource which is also “good for some things, but not for others” (as it is the digitized version of the 1912 edition of the encyclopedia!

If you ever wanted to demonstrate the benefits and deficiencies of these tools, feel free to add this tutorial to your IL-resources quiver, or contact me if you would be interested in re-creating your own IL-storm!

Craig Silverman’s Regret the error blog tracks the range of errors (and, in some cases, a lack of errata acknowledgements) found in various English-language news sources. Recent entries include a posting on plagiarism in a March 11th NYTimes article regarding New York’s gubernatorial succession process, while another notes a Sun-Sentinel subtitle typo for an “AP story about the hallucinogenic plant salvia divinorum,” they mistakenly ran a subtitle which read “Bill makes possession of Saliva a felony.”

picture of author erasing pencilWhile it could easily be passed over as a “Leno’s Headlines” site, upon closer examination it is a good resource for class discussions on the serious responsibilities writers have towards their reader, including fact-checking, spell-checking, plagiarism and ways to handle errors in online publications, since print, audio, video and online-text versions of a publication often handle error-correction in different ways, whether out of a desire to bury an embarrassing mistake or out of technical necessity. An example of the latter would be the use of strikeout letters to leave original error text in a blog, but to put a line through it, and then add the corrected text – this practice alerts blog readers to post-publication edits.

In addition to providing timely examples of plagiarism, the blog’s 2007 Plagiarism/Fabrication Round-Up entry can provide a good springboard for discussing the different types of plagiarism and the consequences outside of a strictly academic environment. The advent of “digi-born” and multimedia resources, including blogs, wikis, videos, and podcasts requires resource-savvy authors to keep up with protocols for original citations and subsequent corrections. The proliferation of online and social resources can also contribute to making the rules of plagiarism more confusing for some students, while simultaneously making intentional plagiarism both easier to execute and easier to discover for others.

Please note that the Library provides a number of Information Literacy resources to support you in your efforts to helps students understanding the role of information resources in research and scholarship. For more assistance, please contact us at

Picture courtesy of Washington University Writing Center Website, Accessed March 15, 2008,