16 March 2006

Biblioliteracy - Bibliographic slip up!

Quote of the week - "After all is said and done, more is said than done." [Author unknown]
Have you ever been confronted by someone who is in desperate straits trying to find the missing piece of a bibliographic reference because when they originally found the article, it was ages ago, and noboby told them they'd need to keep all the pieces together so that when it came time to publish it would be a cinch, and furthermore this paper is due in today! In my 11 years in an academic library, I remember going to the nth degree for a number of students, researchers and academics to help them find the 'missing piece' of a reference, more often than not, they left with big smiles, because most of the time it was our library catalogue and databases where they originally found the article. Well, I hope you are all very kind to everyone who does this, because guess what, I have just done it myself. What, a librarian? Yep, I'm afraid so. Alas, I don't currently have Endnote or any other bibliographic software loaded on my computer. Must do this! I have recently been researching Blogs and the use of blogs in the education and library environment. I intend to Blog about this in coming weeks, but however, I want to write a properly referenced, full length article of the non-asignment type. So, the other day, I started compiling the reference list comprising the articles I currently have, and guess what, some pieces were missing! I retrieved 2 articles from an electronic database, but had no idea whether it was from vendors such as Proquest, or Ebsco. I had a hunch it was from Ebsco, but didn't know the exact database; MasterFile Premier or Business Source Elite? Oh why didn't I make sure I had ALL the information in the first place! {My access is through the State Library of Queensland subscription databases, by the way, Thanks for this wonderful service, it helps non-working by choice librarians keep up-to-date}. So, what did I do, I had to log back in and then look up the HTML version of the article which gave me the database name. What does it take to get this through the head? We can talk till we are blue in the face about this "keep all your bibliographic information from the start", but as the saying goes, 'to err is human'. This little experience has got me thinking though, should we teach 'from finish to start', or 'end to beginning'. Perhaps we need to give students the exercise of compiling a mini reference list, and give them some incomplete citations (subject specific or course specific). When they discover they can't finish without the missing piece, they will then have to find it. This will get them thinking about the most likely 'tool' and also using the 'tool'. What a learning experience this would be! Has anyone tried this? Did it work?

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