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I am currently doing Physics undergrad at a first tier university. Due to my previous experience in Mathematics and slightly advanced age (five years my classmates' senior) I look at my classmates from a different perspective, and am honestly slightly disturbed.

Despite having received a class in LaTeX (with the express purpose of encouraging its usage) most students continue to use Word for reports (with sometimes shambolic results), most students neglect bibliographies, and I've witnessed students using only Wikipedia as a source, even when I pointed out that some of the information was inaccurate and referred them to a paper with correct information.

I've talked to one of the librarians, and he virtually pleaded for me to bring up such issues with the staff. Stating that he'd like to give a course on how to use the library, access online papers, write a report etc. to first years. Most students I've talked to were unaware they had free access to most scientific publications, and almost none seemed to have ever read a scientific paper.

I'm not quite sure what to do. On the one hand I feel it's not really my place, and I have other stuff to do, it's not my fault if other students are sub-par, and they are unlikely to go very far anyway. However, in second year (approx half of students fail out after first year in physics), my partner in Experimental Physics performed so poorly I ended up doing almost everything myself in order to ensure my continued good grades.

I got special commendations from two of the three PhD students overseeing my three projects (the third didn't have the time to actually grade my report yet), though I personally feel my reports were simply on par.

Is it feasible, or even acceptable, for me to communicate concerns with staff, or to relay the request of the librarian with my own concerns added?

1 Answer 1

It is very unlikely that any action on your part would help future students. The issues you report are already visible to the professors.

They can see whether reports lack bibliographies, or have bibliographies that reference Wikipedia. They could set marking rules that penalize those things to such an extent that students would have to do better, if they thought it appropriate.

If they cared, for some strange reason, what tools students are using to prepare their reports they could insist on reports in the preferred format.