From ‘Gateway Site’ to Reference Content: The Role of Bibliographies in Research and a Case Study of Oxford Bibliographies Online

From ‘Gateway Site’ to Reference Content: The Role of Bibliographies in Research and a Case Study of Oxford Bibliographies Online

Rebecca Cullen (Oxford University Press, UK) and Robert Faber (Oxford University Press, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-308-9.ch023

Abstract

It is suddenly axiomatic that today’s researchers, faculty, and students alike begin their research online. The gateway sites (e.g., Google Books, Wikipedia) may provide a user-friendly and serendipitous searching experience, while simultaneously keeping the most authoritative and vetted content out of sight. This chapter will examine the research chain as it is currently understood, as well as discussing the planned and actual role of Oxford Bibliographies Online within this shifting research context.
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Background

Several articles of late have examined aspects of undergraduate and postgraduate students’ research behavior and the overall results are encouraging, in that students do use course readings, scholarly databases, and library OPACS, as well as gateway sites (Head, 2007; Head and Eisenburg, 2009). Wong (2009) found that students adopt a mixed search strategy, using a combination of free Web and scholarly resources.

One of the most well-known, as well as most controversial of the gateway sites, Wikipedia, has now been around for 10 years. During that time, attitudes to it have moved along a trust continuum: from initial mistrust and benchmarking against traditional reference materials, as in the 2005 Nature comparison between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica; to tacit acceptance and limited use among undergraduate students (Head, 2007, p.2); to the present day’s active and acknowledged use by both faculty and students.

Particularly for undergraduate students, the gateway sites fulfil an unmet need in the research process by enabling them to begin to build the context within which their search should happen. Head and Eisenburg reported that students “described finding context as laborious, often frustrating, yet essential to most of their research“ (2009, p.7).

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