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New info-infographics from EasyBib & Turnitin

Over the past couple of weeks, two companies released informative information literacy infographics.

1. EasyBib shared You are What You Write which revealed:

  • Students don’t always outline, they like citation management tools, and they tend to procrastinate when writing research projects.
  • Plagiarism is on the rise, according to an iParadigms/Turnitin study.
  • Of the ten most popular websites for student citation, based on a study of the 500 million citations created using Easybib, four rely on user-generated content–Wikipedia, YouTube, Associated Content/Yahoo!Voices, and  (Note: It’s very interesting to monitor Easybib’s realtime citation feed and it may prove to be a useful evaluation activity for students.)
  • The results of the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) study shared that college students interviewed used Google more heavily than any database and that they frequently used the search engine poorly and have trouble refining and evaluating results. When the students used other databases, they expected them to work like Google.
  • Despite the role librarians play in developing 21st century information skills, public library programs are being cut.
  • EasyBib recently announced its launch of a campaign to promote digital literacy and its promise to donate 5% of institutional sales through August to ALA.

I love you, EasyBib.  I am a big fan of your tools and information literacy resources and I plan to use this poster with teachers and learners.  Thank you.

Here’s what I might suggest to make this infographic even more powerful.

First, let’s have a broader definition of information literacy, please!  For me, it’s bigger than knowing when and how to locate, evaluate, and credit information. It seems that the authors use part of traditional ACRL definition, but left out the parts about using information in all formats ethically and creatively.  The role of critical thinking in information literacy.  The importance of information fluency in lifelong learning.  Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action offers a far broader picture.

Second, I would have loved links to make it easier for me to access your sources! URLs may not be required in citations, but they’re sure nice to have in an online document.

Third, I am actually delighted that The New York Times and JSTOR are the second and fourth most cited sources.  Can we admit that these results are kind of a mixed bag?  And that use of sources for research should be judged contextually.

Note and side-trip relating to sources cited using EasyBib: When I use EasyBib with students, we talk about that new Research Tab and the the advantages and drawbacks of social research.

When students use the EasyBib Research tab, they discover the bibliographies of other researchers, nicely sortable by a variety of media formats or by Academic, Online, or All Sources.

This may open students’ eyes to new resources, allowing them see which ones are most heavily cited, and introducing them to the world of social scholarship.  (At the graduate level, I love Mendeley for that very purpose!)

Though they may make wonderful discoveries among those sources shared by other researchers, my kiddos should remember that they have more subscription resources than most other kids and I want to see energetic inquiry beyond that tab.

Back to my little list.

Fourth: That pink box, the one that claims that Librarians Play a Key Role in Developing 21st Century Information Skills, relies on an NEA article reporting on cuts to school libraries, yet the data displayed in the infographic refer to public library cuts.  My colleagues at the public library are indeed important partners in the effort to develop information fluent young people, but the argument is diffused by evidence that doesn’t seem to match.

2.  Turnitin recently released a report and an infographic describing the Plagiarism Spectrum: Tagging Ten Types of Unoriginal Work.  For those of us rethinking or rewriting academic integrity policies, these documents may offer a new lens and some new language to describe, discuss, and code honesty issues in student research.  The study was based on a survey of 879 secondary and higher education instructors and an analysis of thousands of plagiarized papers.  The report offers clear examples of what each type of plagiarism looks like in sample student papers.  It does not examine media-based products, but it uses terms popularly used in media production to describe print issues.  That may create a bit of confusion.

The full infographic is labeled All Rights Reserved, but I am including a screenshot from the report describing the spectrum in terms of both frequency and level of problem.  You can order a free copy of the White Paper via email.

Final note: I’ve been thinking quite a bit about infographics these days.  They are media messages presenting truth economically, usually through a specific lens.

As we ourselves use and evaluate infographics, especially when their origin is commercial, especially when they serve our needs, it’s important to keep in mind NAMLE’s core concepts of media literacy

  • All media messages are constructed.
  • Each medium has different characteristics, strengths, and a unique language of construction.
  • People use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.
  • Media and media messages can influence beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, and the democratic process.
  • Media messages are produced for particular purposes.
  • All media messages contain embedded values and points of view.
Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


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