Introducing First-Year Seminar Students to Academic Research & Career Exploration

| By Michael Hooper & Christina Chester-Fangman |

Gale’s General OneFile has consistently been one of the most popular research databases offered by Felix G. Woodward Library at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.  It ranked in the top five most frequently searched databases at APSU for the last five years, with 21,238 searches conducted in the year 2016 (without inclusion in federated search tools or discovery systems).  Woodward Library provides access to over 300 resources through their A-Z list of databases, but General OneFile has remained one of the most popular, despite many other options available for researchers to use.  The success of General OneFile as a preferred research option at APSU is largely due to its inclusion in the library component of the first-year experience course, APSU 1000.

Our First-year Seminar
APSU 1000 was developed to improve student success and retention at the university.  The required one (1) credit hour interdisciplinary course provides students with the foundations for a successful university experience by introducing important resources, study skills, and the expectations of college life.  Some core components of the course include university rigor, personal growth and development, a common reading experience, academic and career exploration, and library research.

The Library Component of the Course
Information literacy concepts are vital to successful researching and writing at the college level.  The library component of the course provides students with those foundational concepts through completion of online information literacy modules and a required research paper.  With the help of a librarian, the students research a career, write about what they discover, and compile a bibliography.  Students must use at least four resources for the paper, including a scholarly article about a trend or hot topic issue in their chosen profession.  Having the students use General OneFile to find the article is a great opportunity for librarians to describe the differences between scholarly and popular resources, and to discuss how content is created in a complex information landscape.

Why Gale’s General OneFile?
A number of APSU’s students are Tennessee residents and familiar with the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), the virtual library that provides access to dozens of databases, the majority of which are Gale resources.  Some of our students have been using Gale databases at home and at school for years, so they are accustomed to those resources.  General OneFile’s search interface is clean, sleek, and intuitive, similar to Internet searching.  Introducing students to higher-level research using General OneFile helps with the transition to academic inquiry and scholarship.

For the career research assignment, General OneFile works well because it covers all topics.  In a class of 20 first-year students, there could be 20 different professions that the students want to explore!  With the “More Options” feature, librarians can explain and then model useful concepts.  Students know that by limiting to “full text documents,” they can easily access an article of interest.  Librarians can illustrate the differences between scholarly and popular sources, and then limit to “peer-reviewed journals.”  The peer-reviewed journals are often the students’ first introduction to the body of scholarly literature in their chosen professions.

The results screen is easy to read and, with the limiting functions, students can refine their search, as needed.  The “Tools” provide a variety of output options, and the citation features always capture the students’ attention!  Librarians often introduce an online citation manager in APSU 1000, so the “export” functionality is also a big hit!  In the course of a 55-minute one-shot session, every student can find and access a quality, full-text journal article on his/her field of interest using General OneFile.

Technical Administration
We have described how the instructional component is a major reason that General OneFile is such a popular database at APSU.  But there are additional items related to the technical administration of the database that have contributed to the success of General OneFile at APSU:

  1. Providing adequate inclusion in LibGuides or subject guides on a library website. (At APSU, a link to General OneFile is included on fifteen subject guides and three course guides. It is also listed as a key resource on the “general” subject guide that lists resources appropriate for researching any topic.)
  2. Ensuring availability to students and faculty members from off campus locations through EZproxy or similar authentication software.
  3. Making individual full-text journal holdings contained in General OneFile available through an A-Z list of periodicals.
  4. Promoting the discovery of General OneFile full-text content through an OpenURL link resolver which allows users to “search for full-text” in online article indexes that only include citations.
  5. Importing library holdings to Google Scholar so journal articles on the results list will link to subscribed content in full-text databases such as General OneFile.

Final Thoughts
General OneFile’s ease of use, functionality, and administrative tools have helped to make APSU’s Woodward Library a top user of Gale resources through the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), and we believe this trend will continue!

Interested in trying our General OneFile for yourself? Request a trial! 


About the Authors


Christina Chester-Fangman is the Coordinator of Research & Instruction, as well as the designated first-year seminar librarian, at Austin Peay State University’s (APSU) Woodward Library.  She has been at APSU since 1993, starting as a student, then a staff member, and now as an Associate Professor.  Christina is married with a 6-year old daughter and a 13-year old cat.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cross-stitching, watching TV, and attending entertainment and fan conventions such as “Walker Stalker,” “Con of Thrones,” and “Wizard World.”


Michael Hooper is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Austin Peay State University.  He began his career at APSU in 2004 after obtaining his MSIS from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Michael is married and is the proud father of two sons, aged 10 and 13 years old.  He loves spoiling his adopted rescue dog (Chihuahua / Dachshund mix), participating in fantasy football leagues, and visiting Nissan Stadium in Nashville to root for the Tennessee Titans.


 


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