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"The challenge for librarians in the Google age . . . is to make sure users eventually are directed to 'premium content provided by the library, not diverted from it.'"

L. Susan BeDell, VP Higher Education Publishing
Proquest Information and Learning
(Cited in Doug Lederman, "Google: Friend or Foe?" April 11, 2005)

We believe the above quote represents the quandary of librarians, academic information providers, archivists, and writing teachers and researchers: How can students be directed to the "best" resources? Concerns about inappropriate use of the Internet for research purposes are not unfounded and are often motivated by a genuine desire to help students appreciate the value of texts that go through a rigorous peer-review process. But our own research goal is quite different: We seek to offer a broader perspective on what constitutes legitimate and effective scholarly research practices by illustrating how researchers' use of “non-scholarly” online sources can be part of effective scholarly research and writing processes, helping researchers find sources and develop ideas for scholarly work.

In order to make this first step--to broaden our perspective--we argue that a more ethnographic, participant-researcher approach to scholarship on online research and citation practices will help us to see what researchers are actually doing (rather than examining what they are not doing well).

Using these methods, even a preliminary look at digital research practices indicates that scholars at both the graduate and undergraduate levels see general and commercial search engines like Google and Amazon as extending their ability to practice scholarship. In some cases, these "commercially-based" searches take place in conjunction with academic resources that can be accessed through university library portals, and, in other cases, these outside resources exclude library resources entirely. The enthusiasm these researchers show towards their practices, and the success they have in locating and using outside resources for scholarly purposes, provides an opportunity for us to expand how we understand and categorize the search for knowledge resources in digital 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