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“Why Does Google Scholar
Sometimes Ask for Money?”
Leveraging the Economics of Information
Scholarly Communication Processes
to Enrich Instruction
Scott Warren & Kim Duckett
NCSU Libraries
LOEX Annual Conference
May 3, 2008
What We’ll Cover
• Why economics of information & scholarly
• Our teaching scenarios
• Instructional strategies
• Assessment efforts & feedback
• Future plans
Why Information Economics?
“If students really knew how much they
were paying for all the info in the library I
bet they would definitely be using the
library and all of its available resources
much more.”
“Gravenewworld” (anonymous grad student). Physics Forums (2007
September 10). Message posted to
Why Scholarly Communication?
“Unfortunately, students are too often
asked to use the tools of a discipline
without being able to adopt its culture.”
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated
cognition and the culture of learning. Educational
Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
Relevance for Info Literacy
ACRL Info Lit Standard Five
The information literate student
understands many of the economic, legal,
and social issues surrounding the use of
information and accesses and uses
information ethically and legally.
“Before we train students to use search
tools, before we send them to books,
periodicals, or websites, we need to teach
them about information. What is it? How
is it created? Where is it stored?”
Swanson, T. (2004). A radical step: Implementing a critical
information literacy model. Portal, 4(2), 259-273.
“…how often do our instruction programs
treat information as a socially-mediated
phenomenon? More often we act as if it’s
inert stuff that you find and use to create
‘products’ without actually interacting with it
or considering where it came from and why
– other than whether it’s scholarly or not.”
Fister, B. (2006, March 21). Making information literacy critical.
Message posted to
Our Teaching Scenarios
Our Sandbox
• Communication for Science and Research
(ENG 333)
• Junior / senior science majors
• Required course for some students
• Many desire to go to grad school
• On campus and online sections
Additional Groups
• Undergrads
– Engineering, communication, ESL
– Honors seminar
• Grad students
– textiles management, computer science,
electrical engineering, textiles engineering
– education, and communications and rhetoric
in digital media
Instructional Strategies
Provide Context for Peer Review
• Get students to talk about what they
already know.
• Then build on it…
“why not post it on a blog?”
career management
rejection rates
how the process works
“not all journals are created equal”
page rates
no royalties
who owns the article?
Scholarly Information is a Business
How much do you think
this journal costs?
What you get:
Online access
Print copies (12 issues)
Scholarly Information is a Business
Sticker Shock!
Vanderbilt University Libraries
Cornell University Libraries
University of California San Francisco Libraries
Ask Probing Questions
• Why do you think publishers can charge
so much money?
• Why are libraries willing to pay so much
Information Business “Players”
Academic Information is a BIG BUSINESS
The players:
Researchers Writing
Publishers Selling Access & Packaging
Database (index/abstract) companies Selling Discovery
Libraries Buying Discovery & Access
Invisible / Deep Web Metaphor
• If peer reviewed articles cost money, do you think
publishers would give them away for FREE?
• “Silo” nature of the Web
• “Free” vs. “costs money”
• Compare to consumer behavior
• Discovery vs. access
Web Search Engines –
Yahoo!, Google, etc.
World Wide Web – Millions of web pages!
This is the surface of the Web
Web Search Engines
World Wide Web – Millions of web pages!
Web pages containing search tools
The Invisible Web
Web Search Engines
World Wide Web – Millions of web pages!
Web pages containing search tools (DATABASES)
Silos of Information
Google Scholar
Academic content from .edu
web domains
Citations for
scholarly articles from
Ejournals / Publisher sites
Here’s an example:
Imagine that you need to find an affordable plane
So you search Google…
You get some results…
You need to search
inside Travelocity to
find the plane ticket
Distinguish Between Discovery and Access
Use examples of consumer behavior
to highlight distinction
“searching for it”
“getting it.”
Balance Context with Hands-On
Our Project
Prior Knowledge Probes
Trying to get students’ mental models of how
the Web and scholarly publishing “work”
Post-Workshop Survey
• What did you learn that was new to you…(try to
name three)
• What did you learn that was useful to you…(try
to name three)
• Any comments or suggestions to make this
session better…
Can students explain what they learned?
 How does an article database like CAB Abstracts differ
from Google or Google Scholar (consider things such as
content, costs, who can access content, etc.)?
 Why do people sometimes see a message to buy an
article from a publisher when they are using Google
“I thought the most interesting parts of the
forum last night were the statistics. For
example, I knew that the university spent
tons of money of journal subscriptions, but
I didn't know high it was! The same goes
for the number of journals out there, I
knew there are a lot but 10,000 was it?
That's amazing!”
“I learned the reason Google fails me so
often...I wish this presentation was offered
earlier in my college career.”
“Being a college student = access to a lot
of expensive material.”
“Best library presentation I’ve been to.”
Future Plans
Expanding Instruction
• Learning modules about:
– Peer review
– Costs of journals
– The Invisible Web and Google Scholar
• Sharing ideas and teaching materials with
colleagues – UCLA, University of Vermont
Your Thoughts?
Scott Warren
Associate Director, Textiles Library & Engineering Services
NCSU Libraries
[email protected]
Kim Duckett
Principal Librarian for Digital Technologies & Learning
NCSU Libraries
[email protected]