Students and Faculty Members Turn to Online Library Materials Before Printed Ones, Study Finds

Scott Carlson, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Oct 10, 2002
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This report from a session at EDUCAUSE in Atlanta is a mildly skewed report on a presentation showing that most students and faculty members turn to online sources first when conducting research. The skew is that the author (or the presenter - it's hard to tell which) wants us also to believe that "although most view print as a more reliable source of information." According to the article, Leigh Watson Healy, a vice president for Outsell who supervised the study, "says that 96 percent of the people polled said they verified online information through some other source, either an instructor or print material." This is unfortunately vague: do all people verify 96 percent of the information they receive (highly doubtful)? Do 96 percent of the people verify all online information (also very doubtful)? Or do 96 percent verify some material sometimes? In which case, we have no real idea of how much online information is really verified, and how much is taken at face value, and no idea, therefore, of whether people trust print more (or more often) than they trust online resources.
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