Whose Short Cut Is It, Anyway?

by Judith Maginnis Kuster - Minnesota State University, Mankato (judith.kuster@mnsu.edu).

Use of the Internet for research has become so popular that it’s time we assess the implications of how we use it–and time to discuss a little "Netiquette."

Everyone looks for short cuts when working on a task, but your own short cut should not mean extra work for someone else. The danger of reliance on the Internet without instruction is that it can produce a whole generation of people who depend on others to do their information seeking for them.

It is inappropriate to send personal email to busy professors and researchers or to post questions on mailing lists without first doing your own basic research, which includes using the library and professional books and journals. Lou Heite provides valuable suggestions in her "Posting Questions on Discussion Forums"

The Internet is a valuable information resource but there are strategies one needs for using it efficiently and effectively. All of the major search engines have "help files" for learning how to optimize their use. Some of my current personal favorites may be search engines you haven't tried before. Check them out:

Learning to use these and other search strategies on the Internet is worth the effort. Use these tools as the first step in your research.

This is the appropriate approach. To illustrate the inappropriate approach, I’m appending some examples below of what not to do. These–with identifying information removed–are a few examples of the hundreds of emails I receive. Please use these examples to discuss strategies to pose appropriate questions or to practice finding some of the answers using the search tools suggested above.

For additional insight into this "global" problem, check the recent article of our Australian colleague, Caroline Bowen "Is That A Fair Question?"

Judith Kuster is in the department of communication disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her by email at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu.

Kuster, JM, Whose Short Cut Is It Anyway?, ASHA Leader, January 23, 2001, p. 7