Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-1-2014


This article describes the creation and use of case studies to help teach the ethical practice of reference. There are considerations for applying the case study method in reference which require cumulative preparation through the study and reinforcement of reference values, functions, behaviors, and ethical codes. The strategies for writing ethical case studies in reference are detailed. Overall, case studies on the ethical practice of reference are valued for promoting reflection and active learning in library science students through analysis and discussion.


This is an e-version of an article published in Ellis, L. A. (2014). Beyond a Common Approach: Teaching Students the Ethical Practice of Reference. Reference Librarian, 55(3), 212–223. The Reference Librarian is available online at



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