Discovering Authoritative Reference Material: It’s all about “Location. Location. Location.”

Discovering Authoritative Reference Material: It’s all about “Location. Location. Location.”

Lettie Y. Conrad (SAGE Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-308-9.ch013
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For reference publishing, recent revolutions in digital communications undermine the success of traditional methods of information delivery and retrieval. The need to present online reference material for easy discoverability presents challenges and opportunities for technological advancement – for data management and website design. Equally, reference discoverability demands that we foster a greater understanding of what today’s researchers need, and incorporate that knowledge into modern publishing tactics.
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1. Finding Authoritative Reference Content On The Open Web

Historically, instructors and librarians acted as the primary signposts, guiding students to academic content appropriate for their research needs and training young scholars how to judge the authoritative nature of reference publications. Today’s students still seek out these resources, but far less frequently than in years past. Mainstream search and information tools on the open Web are the primary starting points for a great majority of students who make up the prime target audience for reference publications. Project Information Literacy reports that 84% of students encounter the most difficulty starting their research, but only 11% look to librarians for assistance. Instead of drawing on library advisors, which regularly point to the type of primary research found in reference publications, most students sift through Google search results for the material they need for their studies (Head & Eisenberg, 2010).

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