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A Preliminary Methodology, and a Cautionary Tale, for Determining How Students Seek Research Help Online

From: portal: Libraries and the Academy
Volume 14, Number 2, April 2014
pp. 187-196 | 10.1353/pla.2014.0000



This article reports on a pilot study to examine undergraduate students’ help-seeking behavior when undertaking library research in online courses. A novel methodology incorporating elements of ethnographic research resulted in a small, but rich and detailed, collection of qualitative data. The data suggest that the methodology has promise for future, larger studies on students in online learning environments. The article includes a detailed discussion of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, and offers recommendations for modifications that will improve the research design.