Archive for the ‘ Assignments ’ Category

Information Scandals

In class, look up one of these “information scandals” on the web and/or in a database using these keywords. (You can change the keywords as you search.) Find the best source you can and post the full citation information (author, title, date, other info, link if possible), plus your original keywords, as a comment to this post.

  • Stephen Glass and the New Republic
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys
  • Stanley Pons, Martin Fleischmann, and cold fusion
  • Alan Sokal and Social Text
  • Woo-Suk Hwang and cloning
  • Nicholson Baker and Double Fold
  • Ellen Roche and Johns Hopkins University
  • Antonio Arnaiz-Villena and Elsevier
  • The CIA, the GPO, and Indonesia
  • Jayme Sokolow and Eros and Modernization
  • Dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer
  • SCIgen and the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics (WMSCI) 2005
  • Martin Luther King and “Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman”
  • Bryan Le Beau and commencement speech
  • Hugh Trevor-Roper and the Hitler diaries

Readings for Monday, 4/9

For Monday, please look at the following:

  • The chapter on “Citing Sources, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Organizing References” in Stebbins’s Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age
  • The first 4 paragraphs (pp. 788-9) and the sections titled “A Proposed Policy on Plagiarism” and “Additional Advice for Students” (pp. 798-801) of Rebecca Howard’s “Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty, from College English 57.7 (Nov 1995) 788-806.
  • NCSU’s Code of Student Conduct — just sections 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11

Come to class prepared to discuss the following: How does Howard’s proposed policy differ from NCSU’s policy?

Blog Assignment #10 (last one!)

For this week, please locate one useful specialized information resource for your discipline, one that doesn’t quite fall under any of the categories of information we’ve worked with in the blog assignments. Identify clearly what the resource is, describe it in detail, tell us how you found it, and explain how it is or might be useful for your research topic.

By “specialized information resource” I just mean a book, database, website, or document that contains a kind of information that we haven’t really gone over in class, a kind of information that’s specific to your discipline or topic. Patrick, for instance, has been using SciFinder Scholar, which lets you find chemical structures.

Here are some examples of specialized information:

  • Primary sources: manuscripts and archival records, also known as “special collections”
  • Genealogical / biographical sources
  • Laws and legal sources
  • Government documents
  • Pre-prints
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Financial information
  • Technical reports
  • Images
  • Maps and atlases
  • Data collections: geospatial, numeric, genomics
  • Patents and trademarks
  • Standards

One very good place to find specific resources for these kinds of information is in the chapters of Stebbins’s Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age that we haven’t read. Other good places to start are the Search the Collection page and the Browse Subjects page of the NCSU Libraries’ website. Sometimes it’s fun as well as useful to see “even more” from Google. Or, since people are ultimately the best sources of information (and in fact people are ultimately the ONLY sources of information), you might ask your expert, a professor, or a librarian for your discipline to suggest a resource.

Then, as usual, reflect on this assignment and on your research in general. Now might be a good time to ask for help on anything, anything at all.

Final Report Assignment

Due Friday, May 4 (11:59pm) by e-mail to
30% of overall grade

Pose and answer a significant academic research question.

Write a report that summarizes the sources you consulted and states an answer to your research question based on those sources.

The research question should be a significant and interesting question to researchers in a particular academic field.

The report should be clear, focused, and organized, and it should state a definite answer to the research question. If any aspects of the answer are uncertain, however, the report should also acknowledge this. The report may speculate on how future research could best answer the research question. The report should be understandable to others in the same field or with similar interests.

The report should be approximately 2-5 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and with pages numbered, and should be e-mailed to the instructor in MS Word, WordPerfect, PDF, or plain text. It should clearly cite all sources consulted in a citation style that is appropriate for your field. It should also include a bibliography of the sources cited, and, if appropriate, the sources consulted but not cited. The report should be free of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style errors.

Final Presentation Assignment

Due in class on Monday, April 16; Wednesday, April 18; or Monday, April 23
10% of overall grade

To summarize and clearly communicate what you have learned about doing research in your discipline.

Carefully prepare a 10- to 15-minute oral presentation to the class on what you learned over the course of the semester about doing research in your discipline.

Criteria for Grading
The presentation should be well prepared, clear, succinct, and enlightening for the listener. Your research question and your answer to it should be briefly summarized in terms that all listeners can understand.

The presentation should indicate that the student has thought deeply about the process of doing academic research, can identify some of the major challenges of doing academic research, and has reached significant conclusions about the best way to do academic research in a particular discipline.

The presenter should seem confident in giving the presentation, and the presentation should not go over time.

Blog Assignment #9

This week, please use a single search string related to your research topic and plug it into Google, Yahoo,, Dogpile, and Vivisimo. List the three (3) websites that most commonly appear in the top results for each of those searches. Visit each website and assess the quality of the information using the criteria given on the class handout for Monday: Is the website created by an authoritative, credentialed source? Does it seem objective, or else make its bias clear? Is it current? Does the website give sources so that you can confirm its information?

Then, describe some of the differences and similarities you saw in the results. Which result list seemed to put the best information highest in the rankings? Which result list led you to potentially useful new websites? Did you discover new keywords from these searches? What kinds of information are on the open web? Is it useful information for your research?

You might also want to visit these sites and do some exploration:

Also mentioned in class: RefGrab-it, a downloadable plug-in which allows you to keep track of websites using RefWorks.

Blog Assignment #8

The blog assignment for this week isn’t related to what we’ve been studying this past week, as it usually is, but you should be able to do it fairly easily anyway, and I hope you’ll find it useful and interesting. E-mail me if you have trouble.

This week, please give as much information as you can about what seems to be the most important peer-reviewed journal for your research question. (Please don’t do either Science or Nature: those journals are very important, but they cover many disciplines.) List at least the following:

  1. The full title of the journal
  2. The name of the scholarly association that puts out the journal
  3. The name or names of the chief editors of the journal (up to 3)
  4. The year the journal was first published
  5. How often it comes out (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  6. What years are available online through the NCSU Libraries databases
  7. What years are available in print in the NCSU Libraries stacks
  8. The name of the company that publishes the journal
  9. The cost for an individual to subscribe to the journal (assume that the individual wants to get the whole journal both in print and online)
  10. The cost for a library or institution to subscribe to the journal (assume that the library wants to get the whole journal both in print and online)

Most of that information should be available in the NCSU Libraries Catalog (remember you can limit by “Journal, Magazine or Serial” using the left-hand links) or on the journal’s website. If it isn’t, then get a bound, printed copy of the journal and look inside the cover.

  1. In addition, do the following: Look up your journal title in either Journal Citation Reports: Science Edition or Journal Citation Reports: Social Science Edition. (Unfortunately, we don’t subscribe to the Humanities Edition.) Give both the Total Cites and the Impact Factor for that journal for 2005.

Roughly speaking, the higher your journal’s “impact factor” is, the more important the journal is. Just as an author who is frequently cited by others is probably an important author, a journal that is frequently cited in other journals is probably an important journal.

Finally, as usual, tell us how your research in general is going, and reflect on this particular assignment. For instance, you might browse through the journals in your field in Journal Citation Reports and compare the journal you chose to look up with other journals — how does it stack up? How many articles have you found from that journal? Would you ever consider subscribing to it yourself? Does the journal’s mission statement identify a particular method or approach, and is that method or approach consistent with what you think is the best way to address your research question? Did you find out anything about the journal that surprised you?