Posts Tagged ‘information literacy’

Web Hoax

Even experts get bitten by the rumor bug.

Sara Scribner has blogged about the importance of school librarians in the digital age, especially when it comes to training students about reliable and unreliable sources of information. So you’d think she wouldn’t have been thrown by Jenny the Dry-Erase Girl—a young woman who told the story about quitting her job as a broker’s assistant in a photo essay of messages written on a dry-erase board. “I’ve had training and have had many false facts and crazy hoaxes revealed to me, and yet I bought it. Ridiculous,” Scribner said….

 Read the complete article.


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These steps outline a simple and effective strategy for finding information for a research paper and documenting the sources you find. Depending on your topic and your familiarity with library resources, you can adapt this outline to suit your needs. Each step below is followed by a brief summary. For more explanation as well as links to resources, see the Libray Webpage Research 101 – Getting Started in Library Research.

  1. Identify and Focus Your Topic. State your topic as a question: what are you trying to prove/disprove? Identify the main concepts and keywords in your question. Learn how Boolean operators can help you narrow or expand your search.
  2. Finding Background Information. Look up your keywords in subject encyclopedias where articles are written by subject experts. Read articles in these specialized encyclopedias to set the context for your research. Discover relevant items in the bibliographies at the end of the articles. Additional background information may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks, and reserve readings.
  3. Use Catalogs to Find Books and Media. Use your keywords for a narrow or complex search topic. Use subject searching for a broad subject.  When you search the Library’s Online Catalog, you can find the circulation status of books and DVDs, and click on links for subject headings to find more material on your topic. When you pull a book from the shelf, note the bibliography for additional sources. All items owned by the WSC Library are listed in the online catalog: books, e-books, journal titles and media.
  4. Find Internet Resources. Move beyond general search engines to find the best materials available on the Web. Sources like the Yahoo Directory, Google Scholar and other human created Web Directories filter out random pages and search instead for quality material that can be used in college level research.
  5. Use Library Databases to Find Periodical Articles. Use periodical indexes and databases to find citations to articles on your topic. Library databases allow you to separate your results list into different catagories such as peer reviewed, popular magazines or newspapers, as well as media sources like Websites and podcasts. Sometimes it helps to start first with inter-disciplinary databases that cover all subjects, such as Gale’s Academic One File or EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete. Next, select a database that best suits your topic by using one of our 20 online subject guides.
  6. Evaluate What You Find. Always examine Websites with a critical eye, especially those you encounter for the first time. Using the Internet for research requires different standards. Use subject guides specially prepared by librarians (step 5, above). Search smarter on your own by using our checklist of five criteria for evaluating websites.
  7. Document your Sources Using a Standard Format. Citing, or documenting the sources used in your research serves two purposes: it gives proper credit to the authors of material that you used, and it allows those who are reading your work to replicate your research and locate the sources you have listed as references. You can format the citations in your bibliography using examples from the Library gateway page on Citation Guides using APA, MLA, Turabian and other standard formats.

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Sometimes a video instructional tutorial helps students easily learn about topics such as scholarly vs. popular journals, why you need to cite sources and how to develop search terms.  But why try to create one on your own when there are many perfectly good ones already? 

The  Cooperative Library Instruction Project is one of the best known sources for generic (not specific to any library) video tutorials. Also,  ACRL’s PRIMO repository of instructional materials provides a great selection of academic library instructional videos.

A good place to start incorporating information literacy into courses can be found at the TILT Website – the University of Texas Information Literacy Tutorial, designed to introduce first year students to research sources and skills. Or, take a look at this tutorial on popular vs. scholarly journals from the Peabody Library Channel on YouTube.

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Project Information Literacy released Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age December 1, with findings from its large-scale student survey administered on six different U.S. campuses during Spring 2009.

The study found that nearly all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research, and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research. Most used library resources, especially scholarly databases, but far fewer used library services that required interacting with librarians.

Read more from the Project Information Literacy Website. You can also click on the Publications tab at the top of their homepage and find more reports, such as the one mentioned earlier on this blog about how academic research is a painful process for most students.

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