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The paper is a reflection on three main issues, systematic approach to defining a topic for effective information retrieval, the wide range of resources available for academic literacy and my perception of ethical behaviour in the ICT area. This is done by completing the six modules which is structured in away that encompasses the following subtopics; determining your information need, identify and obtain information, evaluate your information, manage your information, synthesize and communicate your information and use your information appropriately.
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For each and every student in any institution of higher learning, there is need for them to have mastery in the way they solicit for information especially in the wake of technological innovation. Additionally, the time with which such information needs to be retrieved matter a lot since there are thousand of others who need to do the same. On the same note, it is worth noting that not only having the mastery to retrieve such information quickly but also having a clear understanding of ethics in ones professions as well as commitment to ethical behaviour do count.
The activity of thoroughly going through the six modules with six varied topics seemed to be a cumbersome venture in the first place. For this reason, I tend to have a negative attitude towards going through search work. Initially, it was my believe that to acquire knowledge especially through the internet, it was just a matter of pasting the topic and search, however, this did brought information not needed making me take a lot of time in addressing the question at hand. Additionally, I had little knowledge on issues concerning ethical issues on ICT area, plagiarism and acknowledging the works of others.
Before embarking in searching for information regarding a given topic, there is need for identifying the following; the exact problem I wish to solve, all necessary terms and concepts that describe the problem at hand, the amount of information needed to solve the problem and the type of information required to solve the problem wished to be solved. The systematic approach to define a topics so that necessary information can be retrieved include identification of directives words, once these are identified they are to be circled or marked. Secondly search for limiting words and then highlight them. Thirdly, underlining key concepts identified is equally important.
Through module one, it is apparent that following these steps and more so identifying the limiting words makes one to be specific as regard to the topic being addressed. Directives words dictate what needs to be done. Thoroughly defining the topic ensures that the question asked is answered in a more specific manner rather than giving a general discussion of the topic.
Among the common directives words in essay questions that need students need to be aware of include the following; analyse, argue, assess, compare, contrast, describe, discuss, illustrate or demonstrate, interpreted, justify and investigate. The benefits of following the said steps in defining the topic are that it helps one to thoroughly and specifically address the question, saves time in searching the relevant information and helps in eliminated undesired set of information.
In my opinion, it is thus no doubt that to fully have the abilities to recognize when information is needed as well as have the potential to locate, evaluate as well as effectively utilize the needed information, defining a topic through the systematic approach is paramount. Accessing information during this time of advances in technology is no problem but accessing the relevant one that suits the problem at hand indeed is, and for that matter mastery of exhaustively defining a topic needs to be at the back of each and every student.
As suggested by Doyle, 1992 all students need to be information literate so that they can adequately articulate issues gathered and coin them to the topic. As such these individuals need to be able to recognize the fact that accurate and complete information lays basis in making sound and rational decisions, appreciate and recognize need for information, come up with hypotheses based on the information gathered, develop successful strategies to searching relevant information, evaluate information, organize information in such a way that it can be applicable practically and utilizing information for the purposes of thinking critically as well as to solve emerging societal problems.
Although I was aware of the various sources that could be used to solicit for information, I had very little knowledge on how to categorize them. There are two main sources from where information can be gathered from; primary source and secondary source. This categorization is based on how original the source is and proximity or closeness the information has with the source or for that matter the event.
I used to believe that it was only interviews and surveys that are primary sources of information. The second module clearly illustrates those materials that constitute primary source of information. These include statutes and law reports, music, photos, pieces of art, patents, statistics, interviews and questionnaires, diaries, journals, autobiographies. Other include newspaper articles usually documented during the occurrence of a given event, books which discuss original ideas and or report on an original research study and finally artefacts which may include clothes, architecture among others. It is worth noting that primary sources are information that came directly from an individual or group of people and are original in nature not altered or filtered by anybody (Doyle, 1992).
On the other hand, a clear understanding of what constitute secondary sources of information in of significance to scholars. These are materials that have been synthesized, interpreted, commented on with their original source being primary sources. Examples include dictionaries, biographies, encyclopaedia, reviews on various literatures, opinion or commentaries on newspapers, topic over views or reviews from certain books or summaries or reports of journals.
I used to see no significance of drawing a clear distinction between the two, but doing so ensures that one can critically evaluate the information being sort after. These two sources do carry advantages as well as disadvantages, for that matter it is recommended that if an extensive research opts to be done a combination of the two sources will yield the desired synergy. It is worth to note that most of the scholarly studies are based on sources originating from primary since they generate information that are accurate, relevant and efficient.
As a result of having information technology plays an integral part in obtaining needed information, the issue of maintaining high level of ethics is indeed of significance contrary to what I initially believed in, that one can just access information, post anything. After going through module six, privacy and setting which entails ethics in my profession, I believe that the call for an account holder to take responsibility for all activities, business as well as posting of information that originate from my own account will go a great height in advocating and enhancing wise use of ICT without infringing on the privacy of others (Muthu, et al. 2005).
Ethics demand that one chooses a good and strong password, be fully aware of spywares, always update softwares, install personal firewalls, and foster physical security of the computer. All these in my view are a prerequisite in enhancing privacy and security. The call to suppress information or ideas/views that are deemed to be offensive is a plus in ensuring that the society maintain moral, however, in cases where sensitive topics that touches on human life for instance bad, leadership, censuring such information will 'kill' the desire for criticism of such an event hence issues at hand will not be addressed. There is need to pass legislation to classify things that will be censored as well as the varied categories that warrant certain information to be suppressed.
In my own opinion, the provision of freedom of speech which entails expressing one's views without being interfered with has been negatively countered by provision in censorship. It is understood that there has been a hot and bitter arguments between the two, however, there is need to clearly establish rules, regulations and policies that will harmonize the two.
Additionally, the call for those who are using ICT to be polite (netiquette) ensures that we are human enough to others. The advantage this will bring is that moral standard will be at par with other values, information will be shared in more creative manner. On the same note, being polite or maintaining a high degree of netiquette ensures that we do not offend other users of ICT.
Ethics on protecting of intellectual property in my view is a good move to minimize abuse of the same. The need to ask for permission from a creator makes us appreciate that their works were and are indeed of significance. Although copyright provision does not allow reproduction of works of other individuals, fair dealing allows the copying of certain parts of a creator's work only for certain purposes in my view is a good idea in enhancing information sharing.
Lastly and more importantly, the code that calls for acknowledgement of the sources of information derived from either primary or secondary sources helps to address the problem of plagiarism. The steps to be taken so that academic works do not look plagiarized include adequately paraphrasing, using quotation marks, in-text citation. The penalty that the misconduct carries is indeed sufficient enough to discourage the act.
From the review of the six modules and particularly regarding ethics in my profession, the need to use a systematic approach in defining a topic and evaluation of the varied sources where information can be derived from, a combination of all these among other attributes contribute to information literate individuals. This is key in ensuring that I fully understand what entails to be an effective student.
I have learnt that being in a position to define the topic at hand in a systematic way make one to fully and specifically address the issues at hand and at the same time access information that is relevant within a shorter period of time. This is very important as it give other users a chance to utilize the libraries for the same purpose.
Secondly, I have appreciated the fact of clearly distinguishing between secondary and primary sources of information. This will indeed help me when doing my studies particularly when am called to utilize a specific source lets say primary source. Additionally, I have established that primary sources of data are used mostly in scholarly studies as they are more accurate, relevant and up to date.
Lastly, I believe that having a thorough understanding of ethics in my profession as well as following the same to the later is the way forward in ensuring that all activities in the learning environment are in line with law.
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