College & Research Libraries News

Letter to the editor

More than cut and paste

I am writing in response to the C&RL News “In the News” column for January 2001.

You talk about the way students do research today, just cutting and pasting materials. You then mention Questia’s new initiative with the goal of 250,000 electronic books and wondered whether students would use sources only in Questia.

It is going to be up to the teacher assigning the paper to demand more than a mere cut and paste job. Teachers could require that students provide an annotated bibliography, comment on various chapters that contain information in the book, analyze the book in question, etc. And as you suggest, teachers will have to insist that their students not just rely on Questia, but look elsewhere.

The student is short-changed by doing so little. Students who merely cut and paste are not really thinking about their project. They are missing out on the wealth of information that might be available if they read a little further or dug a little deeper.

Librarians may be happy that their patrons have found what they seemingly want, but the librarians will have to demand more of themselves and their patrons, too. Librarians should try to find several types of sources for their patrons, not just something in Questia or NetLibrary or EBSCO or PROQUEST alone, but in a variety of sources. The librarian will have to be more demanding in the sense that the sources should be substantial and lend themselves to more than cutting and pasting.—Scott Cohn, Jackson State Community College,

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