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[In creating or augmenting an Activity Definition, please be familiar with the Instructions. Italicized instructions on this page may (should) be edited out as the sections are completed.]

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Determining relevance of sources

Keywords: consider, discover

Activity Definition(s)

Determining the relevance of sources with respect to a specific project, activity or argument. The following are some of the primitive actions involved in selecting pre-processing sources as part of developing a workspace for a new intellectual/research project.

  • Identify source repositories (on-line databases, knowledgeable colleagues, relevant publications, research programs and laboratories, archives, etc)
  • Relate the sources identified in a network of relationships (conceptual affiliation, domain of interest, geo-spatial connections, embeddedness in intellectual invisible colleges)
  • Consider the sources for use. Involves a primary process of sieving the sources in view of their gross relevance. Types of sub-activities involved here:
    • Face value judgments, chunking, satisficing, grouping
    • Select sources according to their gross/external grouping
    • Create a relevance map (diagramming)
  • Defining fine relevance criteria and employing them in selecting specific sources for specific research goals. Relevance criteria to be used at this point can match some of these dimensions:
    • Constructing an argument in view of previous research
    • Face validating an argument with readily available information
    • Ability to answer preempt critique
    • Prove novelty of argument
    • Qualify argument
  • Use sources in one's work and by this creating a relevance framework for specific sources

    Scholars' Stories (scenarios)

Tools (examples)

Tool name

What it does

Relevant links

Thought Ark

relevance sorting, citation management, publishing










Related Collections/Content (examples)

Optional: examples of collections / digital content / digital resources that could be involved in part or all of the defined activity, with links to relevant repository or site where available

Collection/content name

Collection/content description

Relevant links













Applicable Standards or Standards Bodies

Optional: examples of standards or standards-bodies applicable to the defined activity

Standard name / body

What it governs/regulates/standardizes - What it's for

Relevant links













Notes, comments, related activities, concerns

Thought Ark, an open source academic learning and discovery platform created at Purdue University, proposes a community-oriented collaborative publishing space ready to engage the "native" digital strategies of mature scholar or of undergraduate and graduate students Thought Ark observes how scholars, students or their instructors retrieve, store, and share with other students the results of their bibliographic searches and uses these patterns to create value criteria for sorting and  hierarchically ordering bibliographic sources. Sources that are searched the most (and especially those utilized by  professors) are evaluated higher and considered to be more relevant. The platform includes a set of interconnected  bibliographic search, social networking, and paper writing interfaces. These allow instructors or students to retrieve  information from online databases, share customized lists of citations with each other and most importantly o judge the  popularity and quality of the citations based on the other users' patterns of use. Finally, the interface acts as an online publishing and reference manager, similar to EndNote or WordPress. Users will be able to write and populate their papers with citations saved by them or by other members of the Thought Ark platform and to publish these papers in a blog-like  manner, such that other students, instructors or the public at large can read and further utilize them.    ThoughtArk is a collaborative space that goes beyond popular research applications such as Zotero, incorporating learning,  user networking, and publishing components. It also brings to the learning universe methods of sorting information first pioneered by, Digg or Shelfari, in a manner that combines and creates synergies between these digital paradigms never before tried out in the educational environment. Secondary and tertiary education students and their instructors can use the Thought Ark platform to search and retrieve collaboratively resources from local or remote databases or publications. The search results are saved in a abbreviated and  standardized format in a user folder. Tagging, commenting on, or organizing resources into lists is also provided for. Each  citation gets a popularity score, based on the combined number of times it was searched, viewed or otherwise utilized (such  as in cited in a paper), times it was tagged, and subjective rating. Scores are weighted by types of users, instructors and  higher GPA students usage patterns having a greater impact. Scores are employed by the system to decide how relevant a  resource is. The platform includes an active social networking component. Users can search for information by querying the citation folders of their peers'. For example, a student enrolled in a technology class writing a paper on Wikipedia can either search  for the term Wikipedia globally, or it can search for citations in folders created by other users interested in Wikipedia,  regardless if the papers contain or not the target term. Furthermore, users can limit her search by focusing only on  instructors, TAs, or only on students with a specific major. The manner in which each citation was visited and ultimately determines not only how valuable resources are but also for  generating conceptual networks. For each citation there is a a list of â  relatedâ • citations, derived from users search and usage patterns, which indicates that â users who read this this book also usud this other book⠦⠕. In other words, citations  will be clustered according to the concurrent usage patterns. 

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