Library

HSU Library Launched Citing Insights Software on Pi Day

student interns who worked on Citing Insights Software

On Pi Day, March 14, 2020, Humboldt State University Library announced the release of Citing Insights, open source software designed to streamline the assessment of student papers. Five HSU undergraduate students working at HSU Library have successfully developed this powerful and unique software for information literacy and other assessments.

Cyril Oberlander, Library Dean shared, “Thanks to one-time funding from the California State University Graduation Initiative 2025 and the support of HSU, we employed amazing students to build Citing Insights. This software provides much needed automation to support assessment of information literacy and other competencies, including the evaluation of sources of citations used in student papers featuring standard or customized rubrics.”

What can Citing Insights do? It streamlines assessment of student papers. Just upload one or a set of papers, and Citing Insights automatically detects the citations in the paper, enabling one click access to the sources of citations via Semantic Scholar, Google Scholar, or a library’s discovery system. You can also evaluate the paper and citations using the built in Information Literacy or Critical Thinking Value rubrics from the AAC&U, or create and edit your own rubrics, and even add annotations. Lastly, you can output the results for assessment, or provide feedback to students.

HSU faculty, librarians, and staff contributed feedback during several software sprints and alpha testing of this innovative prototype during fall semester. Thanks to everyone’s feedback, the Citing Insights Team; Cindy Batres, Elizabeth Lujan, Ben Miller, Kyle Smith, and Mitchell Waters, are sharing Citing Insights with the world on this Pi day, with a planned full version release this May. You can find and download Citing Insights Beta at: github.com/hsu-library-project-x/citing-insights-beta

HSU Library internships and project-based student employment opportunities are designed to empower effective learning to solve challenges faced by higher education and the community at large. One of the key questions for Citing Insights is how can we make assessment easier. The first phase of development for Citing Insights answers that question by reducing the workload of assessment. Once the full version is released, the next version of Citing Insights will support students research and writing; answering our second key question: how can we assist student research and writing anytime and anywhere? Building this tool will be as ambitious as the supporting assessment with automation software.

Ben Miller … “This experience at the library improved our ability to work in teams, develop a product to meet client needs, and expanded our knowledge – we had to acquire new programming languages, learn project management and agile development skills… working at the library was an invaluable experience.”

The Citing Insights team and Cyril Oberlander, Dean of the Library, will co-present Citing Insights and student software development projects, at the American Library Association Annual Conference (LITA program) in Chicago June 2020, showcasing the importance of engaging students in solving grand challenges. Cyril adds “I am excited to see the additional features planned for the Version 1 release, advancing assessment features for groups and adding inter-rater reliability norming and analytics will significantly make assessment easier and more powerful. Libraries are innovative engines in higher education, as we engage students in project-based learning, we provide practical and powerful strategies to rapidly prototype, test, effectively iterate, and thereby shape the future of higher education.”

For more information, please contact Cyril Oberlander, Library Dean at: Cyril.Oberlander@Humboldt.edu