Syllabus

This page includes a schedule of class sessions.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, students will:

  • Have a better understanding of the research environment by
    • understanding the scientific publication cycle and research process
    • knowing the difference between various types of publications and when to use them
    • being able to identify appropriate research tools for their coursework
  • Become effective researchers by
    • having the ability to search online research tools efficiently
    • being familiar with the MIT Libraries system and the Libraries Web page
    • being able to critically evaluate information
  • Develop a scientific communication foundation by
    • being able to cite sources appropriately and be aware of bibliographic management tools (e.g. RefWorks) as well as other help (e.g. Writing Center)
    • being able to recognize the parts of a citation (source title, author, etc.) and what type of material is being cited (journal, book, conference proceedings, etc)
    • recognizing the purpose and value proper citations hold in the scholarly world

Assignments

Students will complete 6 assignments throughout the semester, accompanied by research logs (see Course Schedule for assignment dates). Assignments will be explained in detail during class. Students will also review a series of online tutorial modules that relate to class lectures and will give feedback on them. No tests or final exam.

Grading

Freshmen – Pass/No Record (Institute requirement for Pass: Performance at C level or better.)

Grade Composition


ACTIVITIES PERCENTAGES
Assignments 30%
Module Reviews 30%
Research Logs 30%
Class Participation 10%

Grading Scale


RANGES SCORES
100 - 90% A (Pass)
89 - 80% B (Pass)
79 - 70% C (Pass)
69% or Below D (No Record)

Attendance

Attendance and participation at each of the 13 class meetings is expected. If for some reason you can not attend a class, or if you must leave early, please notify the Instructor in advance.

About this Course

This course is part of a project developed by staff of the MIT Libraries and Professor Donald Sadoway and funded by MIT's d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education. The project, titled "Finding and Evaluating Information," is designed to introduce first year students to the scientific research process and provide them with the skill necessary to find, evaluate and use information successfully throughout their educational careers. The project consists of this course, 3.093, and the set of online tutorial modules that students will review and evaluate.

Schedule


LEC # TOPICS KEY DATES
1

Introduction

Goals of the Class

What to Expect

Overview of Assignments, Research Logs, Online Modules

Self Assessment

2

Scientific publication Cycle, and What it Means to you as a Student

Primary vs. Secondary Sources (e.g. Books and Barton)

Evaluation of Information Sources

Assignment 1: Literature Review 1 + Research Log due

Tutorial Module Review 1 due

3

Specific Primary Sources (e.g. Research Articles)

How this Fits into Your Scholarly Careers

Peer Review

Plagiarism in Research

Assignment 2: Module Review 1A due
4

Secondary Sources: Indexing and Abstracting Sources (Needed to Find Primary Sources)

Demonstration of Vera, Specific Databases (Getting Started and Using and Creating Citations)

Assignment 3: Literature Review 1 + Research Logs due

Tutorial Module Review 2 due

5 Demonstration of Specific Databases: Inspec®/Compendex®, Web of Science and What Makes it Different

Assignment 4: Research Log due

Tutorial Module Review 2A due

6

Database Searching - Tips and Tricks

Searching for Review Articles Importing Citations into Software like RefWorks

Assignment 5: Research Log due

Tutorial Module Review 3 due

7 Secondary Sources - Handbooks and Encyclopedias

Assignment 6: Research Log due

Tutorial Module Review 3A due

8 More Secondary Sources Assignment 7: Research Log due
9

Special Resources (e.g. Patents) and Grey Literature (e.g. Technical Reports, Conference Proceedings)

The Free Web and Web Searching

Assignment 8: Tutorial Module Review 4 due
10 Group Exercise: In-class Searching on Topics in Various Disciplines

Assignment 9: Research Log due

Tutorial Module Review 4A due

11 Discussion of Literature Reviews, what they are and how they are Done
12 Storyboarding Online Tutorial Modules Assignment 10: Literature Review 2 + Research Log due
13

Wrap up

Feedback, Class Discussion on What was Learned, How to Improve for the Future

Self Assessment