Week 3: Research | Search | Referencing

In Week 3 we began by discussing the results of the Social Media Survey from Week 2. Using mobile devices in our class will be useful at times, particularly when switching quickly between group discussions and searching for information, or when using Twitter to engage in wider class discussions. However, it is not required to bring a mobile device — small group work will enable students to either use their own device or work in a group where at least one other student has a device.

During this first term, each student will research a particular IT topic. Based on that research, each student will make two entries to our class Annotated Bibliography (Assignment #1) and then write a report (Assignment #2 – to be dicussed in class in Week 4). There were several questions about research, search and referencing, so we spent time in class discussing these, focusing particularly on the skills required for writing the group Annotated Bibliography: search skills and referencing skills.

i) Search

For the annotated bibliography, you are asked to post two sources which you’ve found in the course of your research. At least one of these must be an academic journal article; the second source can be any other source which contains current and reliable information about your topic.

*How* you find those articles is up to you.

If you use Google or another search engine, you’ll find *everything* — journal articles, newspaper articles, blog posts, editorials, opinion pieces, anything at all. Search engines are great for casting the net wide, but whatever you find via a general search engine, you will have to assess carefully, to see if it is current, valid, biased, etc.

That’s why it’s often best to use a more focused search tool when you are doing academic research, such as searching for an academic journal article. Google Scholar uses Google’s search algorithms, but limits the results to academic publications; so that’s one good source for you for this assignment, and for any academic research. The second excellent research tool is the NUI Galway library. You can use the search functions there to limit your search by time, author, topic, etc., and you will be sure to find journal articles there.

The following short presentation, shared in class, summarises some of the key considerations with respect to searching: why/when to use various search engines; how to validate search results; and being aware of the limitations of personalised search results.


ii) Referencing

As noted in the Annotated Bibliography advice in Assignment #1, each entry in the bibliography consists of two parts: the full citation and the annotation.

  • The full citation contains the information needed by readers to find your source. This includes information like the author name(s), publication date, article title, journal title, etc. The citation information will be different depending on whether your source is a book, a website, a journal article, etc. It’s best to use an accepted referencing style so that you are sure to include all of the required information, in a consistent way. For CT231, we’ll use the APA referencing style. You can find information about APA referencing style on the WRAP page.
  • The annotation is simply a short description of the item (book, article, whatever it may be). It usually includes a short summary, a statement on the authority or background of the author, and an explanation of how this source is relevant to your research.

Once you have found two articles that are relevant to your research, and you are ready to write your citations for your annotated bibliography entries, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to WRAP page
  2. Click APA referencing style (under Referencing)
  3. Click Reference List: Basic Rules (this will bring you to the excellent OWL page for APA referencing)
  4. Then click on the appropriate item in the list on the left to find the APA style for your source — whatever it may be

If you have any difficulties, please post a comment here — to which I will reply. Or you can send a tweet to @CT231, or email me directly.

Assignment #1: Annotated Bibliography

=> Link for Assignment #1 due on September 24th

Assignment #1 is an Annotated Bibliography. An annotated bibliography is simply a summary of your research. The advantage of doing an annotated bibliography in this course is that you’ll get a chance to dig into your research first, before worrying about writing a full report (Assignment #2). You’ll also get to practice how to construct academic citations.

There are 3 parts to Assignment #1:

  1. Choose a research topic
  2. Create your Twitter account  for use in this class & follow @CT231
  3. Write an Annotated Bibliography based on your research for your topic

We’ll be collaborating to create one, single, crowd-sourced Annotated Bibliography with entries from everyone’s research (!). Each student will post two entries to our CT231 Annotated Bibliography on Google Drive. All of the required instructions are in the Assignment #1 link above. This link also contains links to the two key resources you’ll need for the assignment: