Opportunities, threats, & theoretical approaches: Research in traditional and social virtual reference quality



Today's digital reference service environment faces many opportunities as well as a number of threats. This panel presents three different approaches, methods of data collection, and approaches to analyze and examine quality issues in virtual reference (VR) as well as other reference platforms. One threat has to do with sustainability of VR quality in this time of budgetary constraints. Radford and Connaway will present “Thriving on Theory: A New Model for Synchronous Reference Encounters” describing a new research-based model that delineates quality criteria from user and provider perspectives. This model can be applied to virtual as well as traditional reference interactions. Pomerantz, Shah, Oh, and Oh's paper: “The Same, Yet Different: Comparing Studies of ‘Traditional’ Digital Reference and Social Q&A” compares traditional vs. social question and answering services. Social question and answer (Q&A) services have opened up pluralistic approaches that go beyond professional VR, but also pose threats to quality and professional turf. Gazen examines one of these social Q&A services, Answerbag, in his paper: “When Wrong is Right: Intentionally Bad Answers in a Social Q&A Community” which discusses his analysis of instances in which wrong answers are intentionally offered.