In the article Liminal Spaces, authors Purdy and Walker identify the important role of first year composition instructors in facilitating the further development of their students “complex research identities”. The authors suggest that instructors acknowledge and incorporate the nonacademic research methods and strategies that students’ conduct daily and use these nonacademic resources as “bridge” from practical real world research to academic research. The proliferation of “real word” or nonacademic research that is conducted in public spaces is often vilified in the composition classroom as unreliable. Although it is important distinguish between credible and non-credible sources, the authors make the claim that already familiar search engines such as Google Scholar are perfectly credible academic search engines, and most importantly, the Google format is already familiar to students. A great example of how effective these public resources can be to student researchers is the demonstration that a mentor gave in the Enlgish 130P class on Monday about Google alerts. Instructors and librarians are not always as knowledgeable about these highly effective and efficient research resources available to the public as entry level university students and “non-academics.” The previous example perfectly illustrates that. I recall in class that Kim said she had never heard of this resource, and neither had I. Academia is always resistant to new modes of communication that allow for more effective distribution of knowledge, because then, the institution, and those in power who it currently serves would not maintain the same power and cultural capital that they currently enjoy. The universities have created a monopoly for access to academic research, which is greatly challenged by public resources such as Google that allow greater public access to all different types of research including academic research. Although the resources available through libraries’ for student researchers are very effective, they can be intimidating and limiting for students who are already familiar with search engines like Google. The authors challenge the idea that the university library has complete control over the creation, control and dissemination of knowledge (p.8). The institution has a vested interest in maintaining its authority as the only credible resource for student research, the prevailing research model that is adopted by most instructors allows the university to control the access to research, and is basically another way that the university can commodify academic research and knowledge.
After reading the book, The Rhetoric of Redemption, for my book club, which discusses the history of research universities in California and the UC’s unwillingness to increase access to education and “credible” research institutions, I am curious about the different research resources, available to community college students, state college students and students who attend major research universities? As a future instructor, what I take away from this article is the same as many I have taken away from many of the other articles we have read this semester, which is that literally every resource available to students whether it be a research method or a video game can be a valuable resource that that can provide a “bridge” from and contextualized real world communication to the academic theory that is presented in the classroom. This outlook allows students to develop their own critical framework of reference which allows them to utilize the skills they obtain in the real world into academia and vice versa. In first year composition students should be learning how to distinguish between academic peer reviewed research that is firmly rooted in academic research, and nonacademic sources, however, that does not make the nonacademic “Wikipedia” search or “Googling” that students perform multiple times a day any less valuable. Students should be learning that just as there are different genres of writing, there are different genres of research which all can be used to a certain extent as a tool for academic writing.