Got Research? UT Libraries’ Research Assist Provides Individualized Assistance

The UT Libraries offers a service that provides individualized help to students with research projects. So whether you have a paper due for English class or a project in business, a librarian can help you plan your research process and identify sources.

“Doing library research can be very challenging,” Jeanine Williamson, a reference librarian who founded Research Assist, said. “With Research Assist, you can get one-on-one help finding, selecting and locating other sources that make a research project complete.”

Students often rely too heavily on Internet resources that may not be reliable. Some universities, such as the history department at Middlebury College in Vermont, have limited students’ use of sites like Wikipedia.

“Whereas Wikipedia is extraordinarily convenient and, for some general purposes, extremely useful, it nonetheless suffers inevitably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation,” a statement from the Middlebury College department reads. “Students are responsible for the accuracy of information they provide, and they cannot point to Wikipedia or any similar source that may appear in the future to escape the consequences of errors.”

Librarians at UT look forward to helping students identify appropriate scholarly sources for their research. “Internet sites like Wikipedia can be a great place to start, but it isn’t the place to do real research,” Rita Smith, associate dean of libraries, said. “We look forward to helping students broaden their information-gathering skills, and to teaching them how to analyze the accuracy of the information they use. Information literacy is one of the best ways to get ready for the world,” Smith said.

Students can make an appointment for Research Assist by filling out the form at www.lib.utk.edu/refs/researchassist/. There are also drop-in hours described on the web page.

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