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adrian plays

Janine is a graduate student, so this attraction to research is perhaps not surprising. But Adrian, an undergraduate researcher, presented a similar view. She characterized searching as so fun and engaging that, once she starts, she does not want to stop: "After a while I'm like, I've got to stop researching, I've got to stop researching. But I don't want to stop." She concluded, "I love search engines." Adrian, moreover, said she spends considerable time reviewing search results. Unlike Derek and Janine, who are more likely to read through a few results and then try a new search if they do not find something that appears relevant, Adrian reads through pages of results. For her, as she elaborates in the sound file below, getting caught up in the process is a part of online research. (For a complete transcript of the interview with Adrian, see the Words link or download the pdf transcript here.)

Figure 14. Adrian discusses her sense of research play

These reflections are particularly notable since Adrian is one of the study participants who does not use her school's library database. Her reflection here illustrates that her avoidance of the library system is not symptomatic of a negative attitude toward research. Indeed, Adrian is an avid researcher. She makes extensive use of additional tools to organize the information she finds--both digitally and in actual space. Adrian finds the research process more rewarding and fun using resources that she herself has sought out. For example, she uses the free service at to create online "folders" in which she organizes her searches and makes notes about her findings. She also creates physical folders for her search projects, in which she organizes printed versions of information she has found online (as well as photocopies of print materials) using color-coded sticky notes and highlighters. In her interviews she makes it clear that all of these processes are part of the activity of "searching," as is the work she does to analyze and critique the information she finds.

The fact that both Janine and Adrian identified the occasional "randomness" of general database searches to be one of the rewarding aspects of the search process is also important--and an essential part of their perspective of "search-as-play." Such comments illustrate that libraries cannot focus only on creating efficient pathways to information. They must address the social and psychological benefits of searching as an activity that can include both an element of surprise and a sense of fun. The next page points to additional recommendations that follow from this notion that academic play drives research activities in online spaces.

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A Beginning
A Lament
A Challenge

Literature Review

A Crossroads
Research in Writing Studies
Research in Other Disciplines
Alternative Research

Methods & Methodology

Methodological Frameworks
Specific Methods

Findings: Multiple Tool Use

Everybody Loves Google. . .
Googling Graduate Student Style
Googling Undergraduates
. . . They Love Too
Amazon Remediated
Last Stop: Library
Libraries Remediated
Academic Resource Responses

Findings: Playing Online

Playing Researcher
Janine Plays
Adrian Plays
Academic Play

New Directions

Further Research