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Assessing Graduate Student Research Behaviors: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences ARL Fall Forum Cecily Marcus & Karen Williams October 12, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing Graduate Student Research Behaviors: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences ARL Fall Forum Cecily Marcus & Karen Williams October 12, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing Graduate Student Research Behaviors: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences ARL Fall Forum Cecily Marcus & Karen Williams October 12, 2007

2 A Multi-Dimensional Framework for Academic Support: Humanities and Social Sciences Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Target Audience: 16 Departments within the College of Liberal Arts - African and African American Studies; American Studies; American Indian Studies; Anthropology; Asian Languages and Literatures; Chicano Studies; Classical and Near Eastern Studies; Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature; English; French and Italian; Geography; German, Scandinavian, and Dutch; History; Political Science; Sociology; Spanish and Portuguese Studies Departmental Profiles Interviews with ~ 50 faculty Focus groups with graduate students Survey of CLA faculty and graduate students (target audience ~1150, over 50% response rate)

3 Sciences Assessment Interviews and Focus Groups with 70 faculty and graduate students in the College of Biological Sciences, the Institute of Technology, the Academic Health Center, and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Sciences Major Themes: Discovery and Access: –Keeping Current –Online Resources Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Research –Challenges –Implications for Libraries –Communication and Virtual Space Gathering, Organizing, and Sharing –Data Curation Role of Library in Research

4 Key Question Areas Research Practices : What methodologies are used? What usage trends can be identified? What is an ideal research environment? Interdisciplinary & Collaborative Research : What are unique information/data needs of each “discipline”? Interdisciplinary research? Collaborative research? Library Research : What role do libraries currently play? What roles are potential? What expertise is needed where?

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7 Nearly 100% dependence on online resources. The greatest common concern among scientists is the online availability of everything they need, whenever they need it. In short, it’s all digital all the time for all participants. Varied use of online citation management programs Some use of collaborative writing tools like Google docs (and growing interest) Public Health graduate student: “I like having everything online.” Sciences: Discovery and Access

8 Sciences: Discovery Common methods of keeping up to date include daily keyword searches; word of mouth; tips from colleagues and even more so, students; RSS feeds; following chains of references (online). And REPEAT. Soil, Water, & Climate: “The hardest thing is keeping up to date. I work in three areas, and there’s not enough time.” Chemistry graduate student: “Not every researcher knows how to search, and not every advisor teaches you. The body of literature necessary is huge and it’s hard to find what’s out there, especially when you are just starting and don’t know the names and terms.” Public Health graduate student: “Wikipedia is good for a totally new topic or an overview, but since it can be changed, it’s not always trustworthy.”

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12 Sciences: Research Spaces and Community “I might have more commonality with a geographer or someone from civil engineering than I do with other geologists” (geology graduate student). “Because we work at the intersection of many fields, no one knows where to physically put our lab." (chemistry graduate student). “When you are working collaboratively, it’s best to work face to face whenever possible.” (Geology) “I come to the library when I want a quiet place to work.” (Conservation Biology graduate student)

13 Research, Scholarship, and Interdisciplinarity DDDD

14 Sciences: Interdisciplinary Research “It’s harder when you are looking at journals outside your own area. You can find them, but you don’t know which ones are the best or what you are missing.” (Soil, Water, & Climate graduate student) “There is some inertia when you are starting in a new area. There is so much to learn, and I rarely have enough time to learn what I need to know in my own field. But I really have to learn about theory and how it applies to conservation…so that it counts.” (Conservation Biology graduate student) “I don’t know where to publish when I am working on something at the fringes of my discipline.” (Public Health graduate student)

15 Sciences: Interdisciplinary Research Common obstacles include:  Different vocabularies  Knowing where to find information and publish  Knowing who to work with  Maintaining credibility in core field (especially at the start of a career)  Knowing enough: “For what I do you have to know anatomy, physiology, animal and human health, physics, biochemistry, math, statistics, molecular biology, basic sciences, surgery, histology. How do you learn enough to come up with a creative idea?… There is not a wide-enough database for all this, and the devices are changing faster than the records, so it’s hard to know what’s been done.” (Veterinary Medicine graduate student)

16 Preliminary Conclusions “Primitives” identified in previous assessment of Humanities and Social Sciences (Discover, Gather, Create, Share) are highly applicable to scientific research practices. Urgent need for online resources, regardless of location of researcher Scientists have more varied repertoires, especially with regard to types of technology used, but paper is still key, especially when it comes to reading and, to a lesser extent, organizing. Graduate students in the sciences enjoy a more structured relationship with advisors than counterparts in CLA--especially in terms of funding, research development, networking, and publishing.

17 Cecily Marcus Karen Williams


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