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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Library seminar teaches research

Students can conduct reliable research and avoid plagiarism by utilizing known search engines’ advanced search options, Assistant Librarian Michelle Boule said Tuesday at a workshop.

"Any good research paper will have a balance of different kinds of resources," Boule said. "Libraries spend time and money to gather these research resources for people, so any quality research should always include items from scholarly sources found in databases."

Boule said students should be careful when using Web sites as sources, as domain types are different and can contain unverified information that may be plagiarized from other sources, making them less reliable.

"The most common domain, as we know, is dot com," Boule said, "If you want to conduct a good research paper, though, you will need data from various types of Web sites."

There are multiple search engines for different types of searches, Boule said. Each search engine has different algorithms, or mathematical formulas, that determine how a search is conducted.

"What are called ‘spiders’ are sent through the engine’s archives," Boule said. "So you’re not exactly searching the live Web."

Boule said that search engines use different spiders and formulas to retrieve different information compiled by the algorithms. People using search engines such as Google or Yahoo! are viewing archived material that is sorted to closely match a search, she said. For each search, the Internet provides specific results that vary in form and relevance Advanced search options are available through most search engines and can be used for filtering information and finding an array of sources, Boule said.

Boule said students are conducting much of their research on the Internet, and in turn the tendency to plagiarize or record incorrect information has increased.

"I have a friend who failed a class for plagiarizing… maybe the workshop would have helped him," architecture senior Jason Haynes said about the workshops available at the M.D. Anderson Library.

With advanced search options, students can filter to show results on Web sites that provide proper documentation, Boule said.

Two students attended Tuesday’s workshop, and Boule said that librarians are unsure of what future attendance might be at the 17 academic-assistance workshops scheduled this spring.

"We hope that more students come (to workshops)… but if I can help even one student answer a question, it’s worth it to me," Boule said. "The numbers vary with different workshops and different times, sometimes we can get a class of 25… but it is sad when no one shows up at all."

Students not able to attend the workshops can also receive librarian assistance through online chats, Veronica Arellano, a psychology and social work librarian, said.

"We all became librarians to help (students)… what a lot of people may not know is we have representatives for almost every division on campus," Boule said.

Arellano said that she was concerned with how few students have approached her for assistance.

"Students seem afraid to talk to us, or think that we can’t help them, but we definitely can and do," Arellano said.

For more information on library workshops, visit

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