David Weinberger has posted his notes from a very interesting session at Berkman that I for some reason missed – Alison Head’s presentation of studies of students’ information search behavior from the Project Information Literacy project. The findings confirm a lot of what I would have thought just by observing my own (young adult) children’s search behavior, or, for that matter, my own. Wikipedia is used a lot, and quite intelligently, in the beginning of a search. You talk to librarians and other people to get the vocabulary necessary for a search. And students (and everyone else) wants one database, not many.
My experience as a subject librarian:
Student believe often that the 10 relevant articles they need can be found in 1 database, while the librarian think different, instead they see 1 article with references from 10 different database silos and citations that can be found in 10 different databases. It is almost impossible to convince the students that the scholarly information landscape is full of silos. Students seems to be totally convinced that everything they need can be found in one or two databases, something like a “scientific Google”. Perhaps the the most challenging job is to unlearn the students with habits from high school that not work in science and scholarly settings.
an alternative would be to build a search engine on top of those databases – or, as will probably happen, that Google either just acquires those companies or outcompete them.