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.

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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.

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Week 2: Search | Digital identity | Social media

Today in class we explored research and search skills, considered the concept of digital identity, and had a lively discussion about social media — including why and how we use various social networks. The following short presentation was used to start off our class discussion.

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i) Research Skills: Search

During the course of this term, you will research an IT topic, share some of your sources in a crowd-sourced Annotated Bibliography, and write a report. So how do you begin researching your topic? Most people in class said they’d begin with Google.  However, we discussed a variety of additional search and research skills in class which will help you to focus your research:

  • Google
    • Search tools (under Settings icon) to refine your search
    • Advance Search (under Settings icon) to hone your search terms and deepen your search
    • Google Scholar (under More and Even More, or directly from scholar.google.com) to search scholarly articles only
    • Library Links — add NUI Galway library (within Google Scholar, under Settings icon) so you can access many articles & databases directly
  • Beyond Google
    • Use other search engines (e.g. Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.)
    • Use the NUI Galway Library to search a huge range of journals & databases. Check out the huge range of Support available at the Library for students.

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ii) Digital Identity

This week we also began exploring the idea of digital identity — basically, everything by and about us online. Have you Googled yourself lately? What about searching for your name on other search engines, besides Google? I asked everyone to do this before we meet again next week. See what you can find about yourself online, think about what you find, and think about what you’d like to be there in just over 2.5 years when you graduate with your BSc degree. Part of your work in the course will be to take a proactive approach to your digital identity.

We watched this Social Media Revolution video in class. This is about brands… are you a brand online?

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iii) Social Media

Thanks to everyone for completing the Social Media Survey re: your use of social media. I’ll share the results next week.

We began our discussion in class by identifying the top social networks used by everyone and then selected 4 of these to explore in more depth. In small groups, we discussed how and why we use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linked In. These responses are shown below (click photos to enlarge):

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We’ll be using Twitter for class so it’s up to you whether you’d like to use your existing Twitter account (if you have one!) or whether you’d like to create a new account. Be sure to think about your profile name, bio and photo or avatar before you add them. We’ll be sharing tweets amongst ourselves, but also with a wider community — including some of the authors we’ll be studying. If you’re new to Twitter, or if you’re using it already and would like to get more out of it, Mashable has a great collection of resources:

Mashable >>  The Twitter Guide Book

Finally, check out Assignment #1 which will be posted shortly here in the blog

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can tweet to @CT231, send a Direct Message on Twitter to @CT231, or send me an email.