How Online Research Jeopardizes Student Learning


By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki


Say you’re a graduate student and you want to know if high school drinking habits affect students’ long-term success in family life or career. Today, most people would do a Google search and instantly find pages of online studies or published research materials that point out the affects of underage drinking. But solely relying on published research materials may undermine a students’ ability to conduct primary research and come up with their own analysis, interpretation and conclusion.

A new Researchers of Tomorrow study (British Library and JISC) looked at the research behavior of Generation Y doctoral students and found that students are becoming increasingly reliant on secondary research resources (e.g., journal articles, books), moving away from primary materials (e.g., newspapers, primary archival material and large datasets).  If this is the case, it may have serious implications for research quality and the continued development of students’ critical thinking skills.

The study also found that open access and copyright issues appear to be a source of confusion for Generation Y students. Thanks to for a terrific infographic on Creative Commons explained:

Creative Commons Licenses

While technology can greatly aid research, there is concern that the effortless access to online research materials may limit students’ analytical skills and discourage out-of-the-box thinking.

We encourage students to do their own research and have put together a Top Resources for Research collection that covers everything from how to use library resources and tips on writing research papers, to copyright issues and digital ethics.

Take a look at the full Researchers of Tomorrow report and pass this post along to your fellow researchers!

One response to “How Online Research Jeopardizes Student Learning

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