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Author Topic: Teacher Rant!
StillandSilent
I Saw Three Shipments


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Please let me know if I am being unreasonalble. For my ecology class, we had to design and perform an ecological experiment and then write a lab paper about it. The paper was due the week before Thanksgiving, she graded them and gave them back yesterday. The last day of class is one week from today and that is when the papers are due. Sounds fair to me.
I worked very hard on both my experiment and the paper. So I was shocked to when she tore my paper apart. The problem? I had not used "primary sources". To her, a primary source is an artical published in scientific magazine. She completely failed to mention this, either in class or anywhere in the assignment guidelines. I was not the only one confused. Pretty much every person in the class has to rewrite their paper.
But I was moving on anyway. I went to the campus library and attempted to find some articals, only to find out our library does not have acess to many of the journals I need. Our school is small and can not afford to pay for subscriptions to magazines only a few people will use.
So I go back to her and tell her that I am having trouble acessing the journals and ask for help. She tells me that I may have to drive over to one of the state schools and use thier library. The closest one is two hours away. With the last week of school coming up, I am swamped with tests, papers and presentations. I also work all weekend so I an afford to attend school. I do not have 5 or 6 hours to be running around for this class. Does anyone else find this unfair or am I just being whiny?

Posts: 75 | From: Morganton NC | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Does the class have a syllabus? Does the syllabus say anything about the type of sources students are expected to use?

Can you access the journals online?

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I was taught in Freshman Comp. that primary sources are the default source to use for a research paper; secondary sources can be used to bolster a position, but they are not to be the bulk of one's argument.

Have you tried making use of Google Scholar? And does your library subscribe to any online journal services?

It does sound like the fix is unreasonable, though.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Aud
We Three Blings


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Did you look on the shelf or talk to a librarian?

Does your library subscribe to an online journal service like EBESCO or JSTOR? Even my local library subscribes to EBESCO which catalogs many journals on many subjects. They often have the full text for free online.

Does your school get the journal Science? It has articles on many topics that include ecology. My husband gets it though they tend to be in crazy piles around the house. If you find a reference in Science you want PM and I'll see if I can find it.

Your university might be able to interlibrary loan the articles from another library. This could take longer than you have. It would be good to discuss this with the reference librarian at your school.

I can see where your teacher might have expected a college student to know to use scientific journals for such an assignment but she should have known in the age of Google to discuss sources.

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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If you had to perform an experiment, then I don't see what your sources would be for anyway. Are they to back up the assumptions that you used in the design? The reasons that you're performing this experiment? Or the interpretations in your conclusion? The experiment itself should stand alone...

Sounds unreasonable to me, as well.

Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Brillo Bee
Wii Three Kings


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Just to pipe in with the fact that many libraries have very fast electronic interlibrary loan services for scientific articles. You should really check on this ASAP-- sometimes you can get the article a day or two later.

Using primary sources is absolutely required in science, your teacher is trying to teach you how real scientists operate. Even if you have performed an experiment, science is always interpreted in the context of other work that has been done. Your teacher's expectations are not outrageous in the slightest. I do agree that she should have made that clear to you from the start, though. She probably assumed you all already knew that-- which isn't an entirely unreasonable assumption unless this is an intro level course. But sometimes teachers think that you have learned things in your earlier classes that you simply haven't. So, fair? Eh-- hard to say.

Best thing to do now is to get thee to your campus library with your list of articles they don't have and ask a librarian for help. You might be very surprised at what you come up with. I am on a small campus as well, and many articles I need are not available here, but through interlibrary loan, articles usually get to me (and sometimes even in my email inbox) within 2-3 days. Be not afraid of the librarians-- they are there to help you and they are usually damn good at it. And efficient.

Bee

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People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools. -Alice Walker

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Avril
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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As the lowly peon in charge of retrieving the articles to send out for interlibrary loan, I can tell you that the process is very quick. Fill out the form, it gets entered into an online system, a library gets the request almost instantly, and every morning I get to play research assistant with the mistyped citations, etc.! But I do take great pride in my work, and usually, if we actually do have it--and we usually do--I will find it. We make photocopies and send them out. The other library then opens it up, contacts the patron, and the joyous process is finished. I am guessing this whole thing takes 3-4 days in most cases. But you may be surprised by what even small libraries have in the way of periodicals, so check that first.

So go out there and get those articles! Did any of your sources cite articles? That would be an excellent place to begin.

Avril

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There is no failure unless one stops. --Ray Bradbury

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Aud
We Three Blings


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The speciality library where I work turns around interlibary loan articles the same day but the local library where I go always takes a week. I guess it depends on what service they use.
It never hurts to ask.

If you do PM me and I don't get back to you my apologies. There is a crazy storm headed our way and they keep saying power outage from branched weighed down by ice. Great!

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magpie
Deck the Malls


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New Scientist is a magazine I subscribe to that has a wide variety of science articles every week. I'm not sure if that's good enough as a source, because the stories are mostly condensed into a news article. But if you want to look online it's http://www.newscientist.com/home.ns and the search function is right on the first page. If you find an article that might help and want to get the entire thing, PM me and I'll get you the entire article.
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RLobinske
Deck the Malls


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As others have mentioned, check with your library about their electronic resources. It is amazing how much is now readily available online that way. Depending on the organization, many journals have free access to articles to varying levels. Some, like Florida Entomologist, are completely available online for free, from Vol. 1 to the latest issue. Others, like many of the Entomological Society of America have free PDFs of recent articles available online if the author requests it.

Unless this Ecology course is some kind of introductory level course, it is probable that instructor assumed that the students knew that primary sources are the default standard.

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StillandSilent
I Saw Three Shipments


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Thank you all for your suggestions. Unfortunatly I have tried most of them (I was up late last night looking for solutions). I have tried EBESCO, but could only find one artical that was useful (I need six). I asked about loaning between libraries, but was told it would take at least a week, and unfortuatly, a week is all I have. I would be a lot less irritable if we had gotten this back last week, so I could have worked something out during our vacation.
Ecology is not an introductory level course, but I was not taught about primary sources in my other classes. Neither was the rest of the school, only the nursing students seem to be clear on that.
I'll try a few of the other sources mentioned and let you guys know how it goes.

Posts: 75 | From: Morganton NC | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Avril
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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If this is truly urgent, as it appears to be, could you perchance drive to another school? Most people are within 3-4 hours driving distance of a major research university of some sort. (Call ahead, of course, to be sure they have what you need.) You should be able to photocopy everything.

You would not believe how many libraries I have visited in the course of obtaining my M.A.Th.

Avril

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There is no failure unless one stops. --Ray Bradbury

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
If you had to perform an experiment, then I don't see what your sources would be for anyway. Are they to back up the assumptions that you used in the design? The reasons that you're performing this experiment? Or the interpretations in your conclusion? The experiment itself should stand alone...

Sounds unreasonable to me, as well.

Not at all unreasonable, actually. Any scientific paper requires sources for back ground information, justification for the questions asked and the techniques used and in the discussion of what your results say (and, in fact, whether or not they are unreasonable).

I am very sure your library has interlibrary loan (as Avril mentioned); it is your friend in situations like this. As is google scholar.

And it is not uncommon to be expected to drive to another library for an upper level class. I had to do it myself my junior and senior years. This was before the internet as well.

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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LongTimeLurker
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Have you tried the online databases? Academic Search Premiere has full text articles. Findarticles.com also has some scholarly articles, although I do not know if it has any scientific ones. Do you have a public library card? If you don't have Academic Search Premier at your university library, your public library district may subscribe to it.
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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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According to your college library's webpage, you have access to both Science Direct and Wiley Interscience, both of which will link you to thousands of articles. I would check for your journals and articles in those sources. You also have academic search premier, proquest research library and JSTOR.

Have you truly checked all those places and only found 1 article?

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I would think your teacher is responsible for informing students of the requirements for a given assignment (rather than assuming you are all mindreaders), as well as making sure that students have reasonable access to this information. If your teacher failed to do this, she is being unreasonable making everyone redo their paper.

However, if the guidelines were listed in the syllabus, that is the student's responsibility to read, not the teacher's obligation to point it out to you. If students do not make use of the resources available to them, or ask library or other appropriate staff for assistance, that is the student's burden to bear.

Figure out where you fall in my two scenarios, and you have my opinion about the whole unreasonable/whiny question.

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They just don't make crazed, beserk robots like they used to. --Sheen Estevez, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

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ChelleGame
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Many people are unable to admit their unclear -- that the assumptions they make, and the things they feel are too obvious to state, might be realistically missed by others. I sometimes have a similar experience with my spouse, on both ends of the equation.

A teacher who won't admit they failed to adequately communicate are equally as annoying as the pushovers who accept blame from lazy students.

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Michelle

Posts: 953 | From: Ely, Minnesota | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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