Confessions of a (Research) Shopaholic
Middlesex University Dubai
Confessions of a (Research) Shopaholic is a playful while nonetheless serious presentation which distills the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (established in 2000) of the Association of College & Research Libraries of the American Library Association (ACRL, 2015) and demonstrates how doing research may be taught to students at all levels as a standard five step process. Using shopping—a process with which students everywhere are inherently familiar—as a metaphor simplifies the process and helps students internalize the steps. De-mystifying the process in this manner conserves valuable time—a resource which is usually in very short supply for students—and at the same time contributes to student confidence and relieves student anxiety.
The five steps of the research process taught in this model are Define, Locate, Select, Organise, and Cite. The model targets both genders by providing comparable examples of interest to females (shopping for a dress to wear for a special occasion) and males (cars). Though stereotypical, nonetheless these are examples with which members of either sex can connect. How doing research is like shopping is demonstrated by graphical comparisons which break down the shopping process and compares it, step-by-step, to the research process. As a counterpoint, examples of bad shopping processes (impulse buying, purchasing counterfeit products) are also compared to unethical research and report-writing processes. In conclusion, the author’s successful experience using this model over a three year period to effectively teach research methods to English-as-a-second-language female Emirati students—self-proclaimed shopping experts—is briefly described.
Implications for Information Literacy professionals include learning a new and easily taught research process model that appeals to and is easily understood by students and by teachers alike. It is suggested that the use of a simple model of this nature increases the likelihood of both successful embedding of research methods instruction into cross-disciplinary curriculum and student research success, whether the model is taught by a Librarian or Faculty member. Ultimately, the “researcher as shopper” model provides a sustainable, time-saving, and simple yet authoritative method of conducting research and of teaching the research process.
Lorraine Kelley has been working in public libraries, public schools, school libraries and academic libraries, mostly in her native Canada, for 40 years. Before being appointed the Library Manager at Middlesex Dubai in 2013, Lorraine worked in libraries in Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi for the government university, Higher Colleges of Technology. In the years before leaving Canada, Lorraine was an active proponent of the roving model of reference services in libraries, spearheading its implementation in her library and presenting on this topic at a number of conferences across Canada. Library Education has also been a focus of Lorraine’s career: she was a contract tutor and online course developer for British Columbia Library Services Branch from 1996 to 2014. Lorraine is also interested in international librarianship, having published in the journal World Libraries concerning aid to libraries in developing countries, and created a no longer active website based on her visits to seven National Libraries in Asia in 1999-2000.