Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fix the Broken APA Please!

Just last week I was looking at an article in the Communication & Mass Media Complete database and when I clicked on the cite link, a new screen popped up. Instead of the usual pop-up box containing a tiny disclaimer and the incorrect APA citation for the article, I now see a larger disclaimer and still the incorrect APA citation in the middle of the page. This is not what I meant EBSCO when I asked you to fix your broken APA this summer at the American Library Association conference!

While the new disclaimer is a step up from the old one (which was minuscule), it doesn't really make anything better. I highly doubt that students will give it a second or even a first glance. They want to be able to get their citations and get on with their research. Even if they do look at it and click on the EBSCO support site, they still have to go through pages of text to find examples and some of those even aren't correct.

As a librarian, the new disclaimer doesn't help my credibility. I need students to be able to trust the library and the information we provide--that is the only way for us libraries to survive--but how can I do that when one of the primary resources I am telling students to use is riddled with errors? I've had students lose points on assignments over incorrect EBSCO citations and it breaks my heart. They trusted us and I now have to tell them that sometimes they are better off doubting us.

Basically the only one the bigger disclaimer helps is EBSCO. It allows them to feel like they have addressed a complaint. But it doesn't really accomplish anything. Please EBSCO, I am begging you, fix the APA citations in your databases--for the good of everyone.