Escaffolding Google

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Scaffolding Google


Scaffolding Google: a set of training cards …

legere est una cosa ke non cuesta nada, basta mirar et mover los labios,
pero si escrives en el libro dentro son menester los folii et la Tinta et el kálamus…
Baudolino. Umberto Eco.

Rafael Ibarra C. 1 Dirección General de Bibliotecas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Abstract: This paper shows the succesful application of a cards game to collect appropriate outcomes from Google and/or Google Scholar. The didactic cards game represent a decisive didactic alternative for young researchers looking for information in either of the Google’s services or similar search engines, including commercial information providers such as Elsevier, Proquest and EBSCO. The cards comprehend a series of linguistic characteristics: purposes, verbs, direct objects, connectors, and instruments that represent profitable utility in all varieties of libraries and in almost any language when the target language is English. Results are presented.

Keywords: Google, Elsevier, Proquest, Ebsco, Applied Linguistics, cards game, information retrieval, didactics, search engine, Spanish.

1. Introduction

Despite the fact that cutting age technology helps to attain all kinds of educational documents in a surprising speed, most young researchers (YR) are still unable to get what they need efficiently, specifically in our libraries. Among the 53 categories and seven subcategories of the information retrieval techniques Wikipedia (2019) YR dwell in a not very convenient environment. Google’s efforts to satisfy YR need of information are superb, but quite frustrating. Furthermore, there are some other kinds of useful considerations such as the ones proposed by Crystal (2012): - “online advertising, e-commerce, search engine assistance, automatic document classification and Internet security - that hurdle information satisfaction”. He suggests the term Searchlinguistics as an alternative “to analyze and alleviate the problems that arise when people try to provide or obtain information through online search”. By his part, Ibarra (2009, 2014, and 2016) introduced an alternative approach to retrieve information by means of a linguistic storm, under theoretical considerations of what he called infopragmatics. However, the given results and examples represent advanced issues which are not easy to be followed by freshmen. Another approach noted down by Mallinson (2011) states: “To date, however, there have been relatively few partnerships between linguists and in-service educators. By ‘partnerships’, we refer specifically to collaborations between linguists and educators who are working together to explore ways to integrate knowledge of language, literacy, and culture into classroom pedagogy to improve the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students”, lead us to consider the ethnolinguistic perspective. Thus, it is pertinent to consider an adequate and easier technique that allows all kinds of YR and librarians to get what they need by means of practical and didactic material. Such a procedure may represent a way out to scaffold Google’s high chaotic and uncountable walls. Let us take a quick look to the main characters involved in the arena on information: Google facilities and difficulties, on the one hand; and, the set of trainig cards’ novelties and practicalities, on the other hand.

2. Googles’ profile

Nobody doubts Google’s search engines (the general one and the scholar one) perform a great help in finding information; and, the economic prices are quite low. But, chronologically and psychologically, the time price is largely expensive: uncountable wasted hours and a depressive time can cause intellectual fatalities. The towers of million hits in fractions of seconds seem to be insurmountable and so, to reach the goal depicts a scenario just ad-hoc to audacious mountain hikers. Probably this risk is foreseen by Google when one reads, “I feel lucky”, or “Stand on the shoulders of giants”. In such high scale circumstances, would it be ungrateful to criticize the millions of hits and the suffocating desperation hours? Academic desperation and furious disappointments may lead users to take antidepressants. What can one do? Most of us would not mind to receive higher quality contents in, let us say 21,600 seconds (6 h) rather than investing our slow reading and weak results in a year to read thousands of hits. Thanks to the Googles we certainly have received a prodigious legacy, omniscient, omnipresent and almost Omni linguistic advantages; however, we are not machines but humans who cannot read, process and understand all the received hits after a lucky or unlucky search. We are willing to make our research quick and well done, who does not? We would love a hand to help us with not too many results and in much less time; that is, it is highly desirable to have a proportionally opposite scenario: much less hits in let us say, a couple of hours. It is not and algorithmic recommendation from a robot, but a structured linguistic suggestion considering semantics: purpose and instrument

3. The set of training cards

This set of training cards are based on several succesful applications within a course designed to publish research in indexed journals. It is a fresh and concrete proposal that can quickly surpass the obstacles that YR face: the lack of a writing technique to retrieve pertinent information as opposed to relevant information. The obtained results, by using the set of training cards, showed a considerable reduction of time, and an augmentation of qualitative contents of searches in Google’s high towers of hits. It is precisely as a kind of a scaffold to approach the fancied goal: economy of time and richness of hits. The training cards point to structure a research sentence based on its minimum elements at the basic level for Non-Native- Englsih Speakers.

Cards characterization

2 cards Verbs
6 cards Direct Object
1 card Connector
1 card Instrument

1 card The user is asked to consider the following structure:

Here, the steps and cards description in detail. The first pair of cards, marked with one circle, Fig. 1, offers a variety of the most common texts users are expected to write.

From the second group of cards, taken from the Bloom’s taxonomy verbs,


Figure 2, users must select one. The variety makes users to become aware of the precision in their pursuing goal. Regularly, a Spanish speaker has not at hand a list of conventional verbs, such as the ones from this taxonomy.

It is true that the desired verb would not be found in this list. Nevertheless, the list offers a solid aid in stating the next step.

The card marked with 3 circles, Fig. 3 makes the user guarantee that his/her phenomenon under study is clearly shown, not just though in his/her mind. Occasionally, users just partially mention what they want. Remember what most of us, as librarians, have heard from many of our users. “I will tell you what I want when I see it on the screen”. This card allows the appropriate focus of the patron’s interests and will facilitate the librarian’s way to aid. Fig. 3. Essential element to focus the need for information.

By its part, the card in Fig. 4 represents the threshold between users phenomenon under study and the instrument they expect to achieve their goals.

Finally, the card shown in Fig. 5 represents a clear and open association between the phenomenon under study and the instrument to be used. According to our experience along 20 years it is quite common that users just mention a fragmented idea of what they have in mind.

As it happens with the verbs list, the desired instrument would not be on this list, but again, it offers a definite support in stating what they want in a complete sentence, based on their own ideas, not on guessing due to lack of lexicon, specifically for non English native speakers.

4. The instructions

The activity to construct the research sentence, regularly, takes an average of 10 minutes following these steps:

Arrange the cards by the number of circles and:

4.1 Examples:

1) The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the effect of the steroid hormones on the early VPH transcription through cell cultures transitory transfections.
2) The purpose of this thesis is to characterize the spectral patterns linked to epithermal mineralization a through multi and hiperespectral satellite data.

5. Results

Once the sentences were written, users selected the two most relevant terms and realized the search by using Google Scholar. The terms selected for this paper were the phenomenon under study and the instrument to be used in order to reach the users’ goals. The sentences were written within the course of Redacción Científica Bilingüe Inglés & Español (Bilingual Scientific Writing [English and Spanish]).

The following table illustrates the results taken from Google Scholar. The search was done along the month of February, 2019.

Google Scholar Hits

The following figure exhibits the total percentage of scaffolding Google Scholar.

4. Conclusions

It is true that no solution can be enough to cope up with innumerable hurdles concerning current reliable information and its sources, specially the most popular search engine: Google. However, according to the evidences presented in here, the set of training cards can be considered as a useful linguistic tool to obtain remarkable efficiency in information retrieval that Google offers; that the cards may constitute a practical bridge to connect the human resources involved, teachers, librarians, and users with the technology prodigy; a clear promotion and broadcasting from library initiatives to satisfy the information needs of Spanish native speakers, who demand sources in English language. The main argument of these affirmations stands the evidence that by using the training cards the amount of terms 1 and term 2 searched separately showed 3,438,020 fruitless hits was reduced, numerically and qualitatively, to 33,658 comprehensibly fruitful hits. Finally, it is assumed that the use of the presented training cards can be adapted to almost any language with the same rewarding results in either Google or commercial information providers such as Elsevier, Proquest, and Ebsco. So, all those native speakers of languages different from Spanish and English, are invited to do the appropriate adaptations; and, if interested, the author of the present work would eagerly offer his advice – free of charge – to those in accepting the challenge to use this set of training cards in their languages.

The author wish to thank graphic designer Jorge Rosas for the illustrations of this paper.

References Crystal, D., (2012). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons.

Ibarra, R. (2009). Proceedings of the Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries: Theory and Applications. World Scientific. p.374-381.

Ibarra, R. (2014). Linguistic storm: an essential information retrieval tool to update researchers. In 6th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, Istanbul, Turkey, 27 - 30 May.2014. [Conference paper].

Ibarra, R. (2016). Inducing academic data bases direct use over popular search engines. Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, Theory and Applications. University of London, 2016. http://www.qqml.net/papers/September_2016_Issue/5310QQML_Journal_2016_IbarraEfrain_653-666.pdf

Mallinson, C., et al, (2011). A Conceptual Framework for Promoting Linguistic and Educational Change. Language and Linguistics Compass 5/7 (2011): 441–453 .

Wikipedia (2019). Category: Information retrieval techniques https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Information_retrieval_techniques APPENDIX

The phenomenon under study is indicated by the underlined section; the italics area refers to the instrument.

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