Connecting the dots (pt two)

iceday06.jpg  Home for yet another ice day, so I am catching up on my reading!

Another item in the Columbia Journalism review article I mentioned yesterday struck me as interesting for research. 

As one effort to change the Times-Herald paper, “When (editor)Levine took over, his paper began a ‘sourcing project,’ designed to force reporters to avoid ‘going to the same three or four sources [for] every story.’ More and more diverse sources, the theory goes, should improve story ideas and stories, and help reporters know more when they say what they know.”

How would we change and deepen our students’ research skills(or our own) if we widened our circle of sources that we used to get information or required them to vary theirs? 

So here are a few ideas:

Have students use foreign newspapers.  Our LexisNexis database includes a whole section of international newspapers, as does our Nettrekker database(password required for both).   BBC News site offers a western, but more European approach to events in the news.

Have students try a different search site(other than Google) to see what results they find.  For example, they could try Clusty or Exalead.

Require that students find the name of an expert in the field they are researching and describe the expertise of that individual.

Require that students find an independent source to retrieve statistics related to their topic–that is, a source outside of an article they are using.  Again, the LexisNexis database or U.S. Census Bureau are good starting places for statistics, as is, which has a good overview of world statistics.

Require that students conduct an interview with a person with expertise in that area, either in person, by email, instant message, Skype(an online phone service), on a discussion board, etc.

Any of these methods could help students develop the habit of “deeper” searching and lead to a deeper understanding of their subject.

Then students truly could display the “five I’s” that Mitchell Stephens mentions at the end of his article–by being informed, intelligent, interesting, industrious, and insightful, skills they can carry forward with them.

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