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'Truth' & 'Proof': Fake News, Information Literacy, Retractions, Reproducibility, and New Scholarly Communications

Annual Symposium - St. John's College, Cross Common Rm., University of Manitoba - May 14, 2018

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.       Registration


9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.       Welcome & Opening Remarks


9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.       Informing Health Professionals about Predatory Journals

                                         Maureen Babb, WRHA Virtual Library Liaison Librarian, University of Manitoba

                                         Orvie Dingwall, Head, Outreach Services, University of Manitoba

Recent years have seen librarians and journal editors sound alarm bells about the prevalence and dangers of predatory journals. These warnings typically target the academic community and urge those at risk of publishing in predatory journals to avoid doing so, often providing information about assessing the validity of journals. Warnings may also be directed at administrators and hiring committees, cautioning them to be wary of unscrupulous scholars who may use publications in predatory journals to their own advantage. While it is critical that academics and academic institutions
be aware of predatory journals, there are other groups and organizations that use and publish in the academic literature. One other such group is health professionals that work outside of the academy.

Manitoba’s Health Information and Knowledge NETwork (MHIKNET) is a library outreach unit, based in the University of Manitoba, which provides library service to health professionals throughout the province of Manitoba. In the past year, MHIKNET launched a series of information literacy and critical assessment education sessions. During an early session in this series, predatory journals were mentioned briefly and the MHIKNET librarians became aware that participants had limited to no knowledge of the existence of predatory journals. In response to this discovery, the MHIKNET librarians
developed an education session on predatory journals and added it to the education session roster. The session was well-received by attendees, who confirmed their lack of prior knowledge on the topic, and expressed their distress that they were not familiar with the topic before. Several indicated that knowing of the existence of predatory journals would impact how they approached their reading of scholarly articles in the future. This presentation will discuss the lead up to, and the decision to create, the predatory journals session, as well as providing a description of the content included in the session and the overall reception of it. The benefits and necessity of providing this information to health professionals will be discussed.


9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.     Reference Conundrum: The Broad Definition of Peer-Review

                                         Cody Fullerton, Liaison Librarian, University of Manitoba

For years, the gold-standard in academic publishing has been the peer-review process, and for the most part, peer-review remains a safeguard to authors publishing intentionally biased, misleading, and inaccurate information. Its purpose is to hold researchers accountable to the publishing standards of that field, including proper methodology, accurate literature reviews, etc. This presentation will establish the core tenants of what qualifies as peer-reviewed and then discuss if certain types of publications should be able to qualify as such and how this affects a librarian's reference interactions.


10:15-a.m. – 10:30 a.m.   Break


10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.   Lessons Torn From the Headlines

                                         Beth Twomey, Head, Research and Instruction, North Dakota State University

This workshop will offer participants the opportunity to get hands on with a number of classroom activities involving the critical assessment of news sources. Both quick ice-breaker type exercises that can be used in a one-shot setting and more involved exercises that could be assigned or spent time on in class will be included. Activities are most appropriate for undergraduates. Participants will leave with worksheets that they can use in their own classes.


11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Assessing Information Reliability through Snapchat: An Alternative Means for Social Media

                                         Amanda Wheatly, Reference Librarian, University of Manitoba

The Albert D. Cohen Management Library at the University of Manitoba is currently piloting a new use for social media. Snapchat Reference is a focused effort to target students on a platform they are familiar with in order to expand the scope of the library’s reference services. Students are encouraged to ask questions about the sources they are using and engage in critical thinking and evaluation skills in a real-time conversation with a librarian. Different from other virtual reference services, Snapchat provides image exchange and messaging opportunities that afford the development of personal rapport with subject librarians. This presentation will highlight the creation and implementation of this service in
regards to assessing reliable resources and furthering information literacy skills in post-secondary students.


11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.   Library Collection Development in the age of Open Access and Research Sharing

                                         Ryan Regier, Independent Researcher

This presentation looks at questions raised by recent developments in open access and research sharing in regards to how they will impact library collection management budgets. With users now accessing articles outside of the library at an increasing rate and the ongoing financial issues caused by the serials crisis, when will libraries engage in mass journal subscription cancellations? This presentation will attempt to give some greater context to these trends and discuss some issues that will arise.


12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.     Lunch


1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.       Business Meeting


1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.       Keynote Talk: Trolling Ourselves to Death: Social Media and Post-Truth Politics

                                         Dr. Jason Hannan, Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Communication, University of Winnipeg

Jason Hannan is Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Communications at the University of Winnipeg. He is the editor of Truth in the Public Sphere (2016) and Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication (2014). His articles have appeared in European Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, Contemporary Pragmatism, Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, Review of Communication, and Intellectual History Review. His research interests include media and communication theory; rhetorical theory and criticism; posthumanism and critical animal studies; and bioethics and medical humanities. He is currently completing a book project entitled,Rational Agonism: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Philosophy of Communication.


2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.       Institutional Repositories and Open Access Misconceptions at UND

                                         Holly Gabriel, Business and Government Documents Reference Librarian, University of North Dakota

                                         Zeineb Yousif, Digital Initiatives Librarian, University of North Dakota

Librarians at the University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Library have been promoting the UND Scholarly Commons Digital Repository and open access resources to faculty, staff and students on campus.  We will discuss some misconceptions about scholarly communication and open access that we have heard from our faculty. We hope this talk will give you ideas about effective communication with your faculty.


3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.       Break


3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.       The Incoherence of Post-Truth

                                     Dominique Taylor, Philosophy, Religion, and French, Spanish, & Italian Librarian, University of Manitoba

Ostensibly, there has been a recent rise in ‘post-truth’ thinking (Higgins, 2016; Rochlin, 2017; Speed & Mannion, 2017; Suiter, 2016). The Oxford English Dictionary, which made ‘post-truth’ its word of the year for 2016, defines post-truth as “[r]elating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” (“Post-truth,” 2017). Going into more detail, post-truth is described not just the (i) proliferation of false information, but also (ii) the attitude that truth is, at best, a convenient coincidence that can be superseded by ideological, instrumental, and/or emotional concerns and that (iii) acting on certain beliefs, specifically false ones, can be a good in and of itself. While this seems like an apt way of characterizing ‘post-truth’, I argue that (i) post-truth is, at most, a rhetorical strategy, (ii) that it is a concept grounded in vicious circularity, and (iii) that it equivocates between things being true with those that merely pass as true. The very fact that so-called instances of post-truth are under scrutiny and that purveyors of post-truth often have to frame their views in terms of truth claims, provides evidence that truth still has currency in most discourse. The question is whether these truth claims or assertions are, in fact, warranted.

The purpose of my talk is to question the widespread use of post-truth as a term and concept. I propose alternative ways of describing and assessing the contemporary situation regarding disinformation and misinformation. Namely, I focus on the role of norms in the act of assertion (e.g., putting factual claims forward) and how clarifying these might help us manage the ‘post-truth’ phenomenon. My contention is that focusing on justification as a norm of assertion, provides useful tools for dealing with disinformation that sidesteps the problematic conceptual issues associated with post-truth.  I will end by providing a few examples of how my focus on this justificatory project has influenced my approach to teaching information literacy to students.


3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.       Round Table Discussion


4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.       Closing Remarks 

* Discussion Topic TBD


Sunday, May 13: Dinner arrangements are forthcoming.  Join your colleagues at 6 p.m. the evening before the symposium – location TBD.  RSVP Marie Speare,

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