Mind the gap

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A recent study, commissioned jointly by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), found, unsurprisingly, that young people are lacking critical and analytical skills.

The report, Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future, deflates the myth that the “Google generation” (young people born or brought up in the Internet age, i.e. since 1993) is completely comfortable online, able to navigate anywhere and find anything, while older people stumble around. On the contrary, the report found that “factors specific to the individual, personality, and background are much more significant than generation.”

Another interesting finding from the report is that most users “power-browse” or skim material, using “horizontal” (shallow) research methods. Most spend only a few minutes looking at academic materials and few return to them. “From undergraduates to professors, people exhibit a strong tendency towards shallow, horizontal, flicking behaviour in digital libraries.”

Many academic institutions assume that young students know how to do research on the Internet, by virtue of their age. But while most are proficient users of Facebook and Wikipedia, they are not necessarily information-literate. They lack the skills to differentiate between authoritative information and amateur blogging. Most academic libraries are aware of, and eager to bridge, this gap.

Find out how RDC Library helps bridge this gap through our information literacy program.

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