What’s in your reference list?

1979677_10152254499819643_22134211_nAs an academic and college professor, I am perplexed. We are at a crossroad of change, fueled by an evolving online world cluttered with interesting and innovative business content. My question is:

What is a valid source for research in business and innovation?

At my age, I am finding myself saying “Back in the Day” far too often….But “Back in the day” when I was a graduate student, references came from the Library. My reference lists included text books, peer-reviewed journals, an occasional newspaper or professional magazine article. All carefully formatted in APA style.

Fast forward 20 years, I am a professor in Business. The world of business now is interwoven and dependant on technology. In 1965, Moore’s Law set the pace of change for technology; claiming that 18 months is the magical timeframe that all things change in technology.  Coincidentally, eighteen months is also the average time it takes to publish an article in a peer-reviewed business journal.  As a technologist, does that means by the time I write an article that gets published in a peer reviewed business journal, it is obsolete?

I am finding my students collecting valuable insight, theories and content from the massive content that is readily accessible through a simple Google search (blogs, wikipedia, websites, and youtube videos). Then working through the traditional journals, texts and library sources only to back-fill and create a reference list.

As faculty, we warn students about Wikipedia. Anyone can write anything in Wikipedia. But anyone can write anything on a website;  and anyone can write anything in a blog.  Further, that same blogger can collect all of their blog posts (about anything) and upload and self-publish a book on Amazon. They sell hundreds of copies to students who use them in their research papers as valid sources.

For Faculty, its all becoming very grey. Who are the trusted sources, and who are just bloggers/content-generators? And should we even care?

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One Response to What’s in your reference list?

  1. Fran says:

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. It even sent me back to school, to learn more about library/information science.

    If you think about it, the web is still very much like entering a big city library: you can go to the legit reference section, or you can sit down and read a gossip magazine. There are no library police and on the Internet, no web police. As educators and journalists, we can only strive to teach students and readers how to filter information and how to discern the difference between sources.

    But what it comes down to is that we can’t make them care.

    I think a hybrid course combining information science, critical thinking and research ethics should be required in both high school and college. And quickly, before it’s too late–if it’s not already.

    Thanks for bringing up this subject–and for caring!

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