LIB 1201 – Research & Documentation for the Information Age

Fall 2010
Tue/Thu 10:00-11:15am
Room: A540 A543 (Library)

Prof. Maura Smale
Phone: 718.260.5748
Office: A539 A543B (Library)
Office Hours: Tue/Thu 11:15am-12:30pm and by appointment

Course Website:

Course Description
In this course we will explore issues in research and documentation for text (in print and online), images, sound, and multimedia. You will investigate where information comes from and how it is organized in both traditional and emerging media. We will examine the ethics of information use and determine how to critically evaluate sources. Throughout the course, you will create and present research and documentation projects using traditional and emerging media and technologies.

Course Goals
To introduce you to the theory and practice of research and documentation for all information and media, including:

  • Cultural, economic and political factors that affect information and media
  • The organization of information in multiple formats
  • Developing methods for finding information that is relevant to you
  • Critically evaluating information and its sources
  • Copyright, fair use, and ethical use of information and media
  • The role of documentation and citation in scholarly, professional, and public work

Learning Outcomes
For the successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the ways that information is produced and organized in a variety of formats
  • Create and articulate a relevant, manageable research topic for your assignments
  • Successfully search for and acquire appropriate information about your research topic in a variety of media and formats
  • Critically evaluate and select information sources for your assignments and projects
  • Use information ethically and responsibly with an awareness of copyright and fair use
  • Synthesize information on a topic from a variety of sources and present your analysis in writing and orally
  • Collaborate with a group to complete, modify, and document a process online
  • Apply documentation methods and citation styles appropriately in your own work

Course Policies

Contacting the professor:
Please speak with me if there is anything you find unclear about the readings or assignments, or if you have concerns about your work in the course. Email is the best way to contact me – I will respond within 48 hours (and usually sooner). I also hold regular office hours at 11:30am-12:30pm Tue/Thu and by appointment.

You are expected to attend every class during the course. The City Tech attendance policy allows a student to be absent during the semester without penalty for up to 3 class sessions. Additional absences will lower your grade in this course.

Please be on time for class. Late students may miss important course material and can be disruptive to the rest of the class. Excessive lateness will lower your grade in this course.

All assignments are due on the dates listed in the Course Schedule below. Failure to submit work on time will result in a lower grade for the assignment.

Please be respectful of the opinions of others during class discussions and blog interactions. Please silence your cellphone during class, and do not text or IM unless requested to by the professor. Eating is not permitted in the library computer classroom, but you may bring a drink with a lid.

All assignments and work in this course must be your own, and you must give proper credit to any information or ideas that are the work of others. Please familiarize yourself with the college policy on plagiarism:

NYCCT Statement on Academic Integrity:
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.

Further information (including penalties for plagiarism at City Tech) can be found in the Student Handbook:

Additional Resources for Students:

The College Learning Centers offer tutoring and writing support in 2 locations: Atrium G18 and Voorhees 217. For more information:

To use a computer on campus visit one of the Computing Centers:

I hope that you will become very familiar with the City Tech Library during this course. For additional research support, please don’t hesitate to visit the Reference Desk or the library website:

Assignments and Grading

Your grade in this course will be based on:

  • Class participation: 15%
  • Blog posts/comments: 20%
  • Research topic proposal: 5%
  • Annotated bibliography: 10%
  • Research paper – draft: 10%
  • Research paper – final: 15%
  • Online documentation project: 15%
  • Class presentation: 10%

Participation in class discussions and in-class assignments:
You are expected to complete all readings/viewings and come to class prepared to discuss them. Please bring at least 1 question about the readings to every class. In-class activities will include developing research topics, formulating search strategies, evaluating information, etc.

Short blog posts are required throughout the course. See deadlines in the course schedule (below), and details on the course blog (

Research topic proposal:
In consultation with the professor, choose a research topic relevant to the course and write a 100 word proposal. You will use this research topic for your annotated bibliography and research paper.

Annotated bibliography:
Select a minimum of 5 sources in a variety of media formats on your research topic and create an annotated bibliography (100 words minimum per source).

Research paper:
Write a research paper on your approved topic. Papers must be 5-8 pages in length (not including illustrations or References), typed, double-spaced. You are required to submit at least one draft of your paper before submitting the final version (see deadlines in the course schedule below).

Online documentation project:
In small groups assigned by the professor, students will build an online resource and collaboratively document their process.

Class presentation:
Each student group will give a 20 minute class presentation describing their online resource and presenting the finished online documentation project.

Full details and requirements for each assignment will be discussed in class and posted to the course blog.

Required Textbook

Badke, W. B. (2008). Research strategies: Finding your way through the information fog. New York: iUniverse, Inc.

This text is available for less than $20 in the City Tech bookstore, and I strongly recommend that you purchase it. We will read almost the entire book in this class and it should also be useful to you for other courses that require research.

You can also buy it as an ebook (in PDF) for only $6 from the publisher’s website:

The book is also on reserve in the library: CALL NUMBER: Z710 .B23 2008

Additional materials to read/view are assigned for each class, see Course Schedule (below). Most of these materials are available online (at no cost to you) in library databases or on the internet; the rest are on reserve in the library. Links to materials available online are posted on the course blog.

Recommended Reading

There are no assigned readings from these books, but you may find them helpful to consult during the course (they are on reserve in the library).

Devine, J., and Egger-Sider, F. (2009). Going beyond Google: The invisible web in learning and teaching. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
CALL NUMBER: ZA4237 .D4 2009

Discusses expert searching of “deep” web resources, may be useful for research on your paper/project topics.

Riedling, A. M. (2006). Learning to learn: A guide to becoming information literate in the 21st century. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
CALL NUMBER: ZA3075 .R54 2006

This book is similar to our textbook, and offers another set of guidelines for research and writing.

Course Schedule

All readings and assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date listed below. Please write down and bring at least one question about one of the readings to every class, and come to class prepared to discuss all of the day’s assigned readings.

Thu 8/26:
Introduction to the course; sign up for course blog

The Information Landscape: Media and Production

Tue 8/31:
Brief history of media; the lifecycle of information; traditional print media: journalism, academic/government/research agency publications
Reading: Read Badke Preface, Ch. 1 and Ch. 8
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post

Thu 9/2:
Digital text: online versions of print media, “born digital” content
Reading: Pavlik pp. 1-8, Harrington and Meade pp. 6-9
Viewing: Common Craft blogs and wikis videos
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post

Tue 9/7:
Alternative media: print (zines, pamphlets, etc.) and electronic (blogs, wikis, etc.)
Reading: Eland, Zine World, Wright (Part I only)
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Thu 9/9:

Tue 9/14:
NO CLASS OR OFFICE HOURS (classes follow a Friday schedule)

Thu 9/16:
Non-text media: sound, images, multimedia
Reading: Pavlik pp. 79-84, Malitz, Elton
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post; comment on at least one blog post

Tue 9/21:
Web 2.0 and participatory media
Reading: Web 2.0 (Wikipedia), Baker
Viewing: Common Craft social media video
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post

Issues in Information and Media

Thu 9/23:
Access: personal, institutional, digital divide
Reading: Martin Ch. 7
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post

Tue 9/28:
Preservation: paper, digital media, other formats, compatibility
Reading: Levi, Bee
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Thu 9/30:
Ethics: copyright, fair use, plagiarism, open access
Reading: Isserman, Center for Social Media sections “Code” and “Principles”
Viewing: Lessig, Faden
Assignment: Write one reading response blog post

How Information and Media Are Organized

Tue 10/5:
Metadata: information about information, taxonomies, folksonomies
Reading: Badke Ch. 4, Dye
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post; comment on at least one blog post

Thu 10/7:
Search mechanics: what is a database, how does a search engine work
Reading: Badke Ch. 3, Liddy
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Tue 10/12:
Metadata for non-text media; metadata challenges
Reading: Read: Goodin, Levinson
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post

Finding Information and Media

Thu 10/14:
The research process: needs assessment, preliminary strategies, topic development
Reading: Badke Ch. 2
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Tue 10/19:
The research process: refining a topic, creating search strategies
Reading: Badke Appendix 1 pp. 177-195, review Badke Ch. 3 pp. 34-41
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post

Thu 10/21:
Searching: internet
Reading: Badke Ch. 6 (all) and Ch. 7 pp. 122-124
Viewing: Common Craft web search strategies video
DUE: Research topic proposal

Tue 10/26:
Searching: library catalogs
Reading: Badke Ch. 5 pp. 71-76, Library of Congress Classification Outline
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post

Thu 10/28:
Searching: article databases
Reading: Badke Ch. 5 pp. 76-95
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Using Information and Media

Tue 11/2:
Evaluation of sources in any format: why to evaluate
Reading: Fister, Grimmelman
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post

Thu 11/4:
Evaluation of sources in any format: how to evaluate
Reading: UC Berkeley, Cornell
DUE: Annotated bibliography

Tue 11/9:
Writing an academic research paper
Reading: Badke Ch. 10 and Appendix 1 pp. 196-203
Assignment: Write one research journal blog post

Thu 11/11:
Rationale for documentation and citation
Reading: Read Hauptman pp. 7-13
Assignment: Comment on at least one blog post

Tue 11/16:
Documentation: standards, methods and styles for citing text and non-text media
Reading: Badke Ch. 9, browse Purdue OWL’s APA and MLA Style sections
DUE: Research paper draft

Thu 11/18:
Documentation: standards, methods and styles for practices and processes
Assignment: Find one example of process documentation in any format, read it, and write one blog post in which you describe, summarize and critique it. Be prepared to discuss your example in class!

Tue 11/23:
Group project work

Thu 11/25:
NO CLASS – COLLEGE CLOSED (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Tue 11/30:
Group project work
Documentation: practical applications
Reading: Edge, Robinson

DUE: Research paper final version

Thu 12/2:
Documentation: practical applications
Reading: Edge, Robinson
Group project work

Presentation of Information and Looking to the Future

Tue 12/7:
Group project work
Future of information and media, wrapping up
Viewing: Sloan

Thu 12/9:
Future of information and media, wrapping up
Viewing: Sloan; Reading: Berners-Lee
Group project work

Tue 12/14:
Student presentations
Group project work

Thu 12/16:
Student presentations
DUE: Online documentation project

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