The following statement by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) can be used as a general guide for student library assignments:
An information literate person is able to:
1.) Know when information is needed
Information may be needed, for example, to solve a problem or resolve a conflict. [These problems or conflicts may be social or academic, and may be selected by the student or assigned by the faculty.]
2.) Find relevant information
The student researcher should be able to use the library catalog and databases (both general and subject specific) to locate information. In addition, the student researcher should be able to locate and use a variety of sources, such as:
Scholarly journal articles
Popular magazine articles
The library offers a number of regularly scheduled basic orientation classes throughout the school year to assist the student researcher with the above. Various online library tutorials are also available on the library's home page. The online tutorial entitled Basic Library Orientation is especially relevant. Faculty members can also schedule tailored, subject specific library classes for their specific courses.
Suggested general databases: InfoTrac OneFile and OmniFile Full Text Mega.
Suggested newspaper databases: NewsStand, New York Times, and New York Times Historical Archive.
Databases are listed alphabetically at Online Databases on the library's homepage.
Consult the library's Subject Research Guides, also on the library's home page, for subject specific databases.
3.) Evaluate the quality of information
The student researcher should be able to evaluate information using the following general criteria (as well subject specific criteria):
Evaluate the purpose of the source, whether it is intended to provide public forms of evidence, to sell a product, to promote an ideological, political, or religious orientation, etc.
Check to see if the author supports knowledge claims with the proper forms of public evidence, and if the author cites other research that is relevant to his or her claims.
Check the date of publication, since the timeliness of research is crucial to certain fields, especially medicine and the natural sciences. Timeliness is less important to fields such as literature and philosophy.
The author should have the appropriate education or training in the subject area being presented.
Books published by an academic press, articles appearing in peer review journals, and websites sponsored by the government or a university are generally regarded as being more reliable and as possessing greater authority.
Scope - Is the source a general overview of an entire topic or field? Or is it highly specific? Or is it something in between? The scope of a piece should be appropriate to its claims.
Audience - Who is the intended audience of the piece? What is the educational level or political, or religious, or ideological orientation of the intended audience? Knowing the intended audience of a piece may help with the evaluation of its assumptions, biases, etc.
Scholarly - Scholarly journals are generally peer reviewed, that is, their articles are read and evaluated by experts in the field under consideration. They generally include signed articles, a statement of the author's credentials or academic affiliation, and a bibliography. All of these attributes help make the source more reliable.
Popular - Popular magazines, such as Newsweek, are generally intended to reach a wide audience. The articles that appear in them are generally not peer reviewed and usually do not contain a bibliography. The reliability of popular sources is thus generally regarded to be below the level of scholarly sources.
Primary text - These books or articles provide original research or reports.
Secondary text - These books or articles summarize, evaluate and report on primary research.
Both can be highly reliable or unreliable, depending upon subject specific criteria, as well as the general criteria just discussed above.
4.) Select, organize and use relevant information
Using the above evaluative criteria, as well as subject specific criteria, the researcher should be able to select and organize the information gathered. The selection of information will involve the use of both general and subject specific criteria. The organization of this information will usually involve abstraction and thoughtful integration. (See sample assignments link below.) (It is recommended that the faculty member provide a course specific sample for students to view.)
5.) Use information ethically and legally
The researcher should be able to quote, paraphrase, and cite sources properly. (See Plagiarism Tutorial.)
(This assignment was adapted and generalized from a more specific assignment submitted by Dr. Tim Royappa [see below] to Information Literacy: A Workshop For the Faculty at the University of West Florida, May 4-6, 2004. It is intended as a general guide that may be adapted for specific subject areas and specific assignments.)
This course requires the fulfillment of a semester-long information literacy project, culminating in a final term paper [or assignment].
1. Attend one of the library's Basic Library Orientation classes (50 minutes) or complete the online Basic Library Orientation (on the library's web homepage under Tutorials) in order to learn how to use the library's catalog and databases. Deadline: ... Percent of grade: ...
2. Using the library's newspaper (or general) databases, find three news (or recent) articles on a current problem, issue or conflict in the subject area of the course. Provide an annotated bibliography of these articles and a brief statement (one paragraph) of this problem, issue or conflict. Deadline: ... Percent of grade: ...
3. Using the library's catalog and databases, find at least three scholarly books or articles that deal with the problem, issue or conflict discussed in 2.) above. Provide an annotated bibliography of these books or articles and a brief statement (one paragraph) of this problem, issue or conflict. Deadline: ... Percent of grade: ...
4. Write a term paper [three to five pages - length may vary with course subject area, with course level, etc.] on your chosen topic using the scholarly bibliography you made in step 3.) above. Summarize the main issue and evaluate the pro and con arguments using both general and subject specific criteria. Using this summary and evaluation, try your best to offer a suggestion that helps solve the problem or resolve the conflict. Deadline: ... Percent of grade: ...
Review the following two websites and answer the following questions:
Purpose / Intended Audience
Authority / Credibility
Accuracy / Reliability
Currency / Timeliness
Objectivity / Bias
Structure / Navigation
(Submitted by Dr. Tim Royappa to Information Literacy: A Workshop for the Faculty at the University of West Florida, May 4-6, 2004.
There will be a semester-long information literacy project, culminating in a term paper, that you will have to complete as part of this course.
1. Attend Step I orientation in library or complete online library tutorial (especially, learn to use subject specific "Research guides.") Deadline: Wednesday, September 29th. 5% of grade
2. Find three recent news reports of a scientific discovery or invention in Chemistry (e.g., in the LexisNexis database). Alternatively, you may find three recent news reports on a Chemistry-related issue from a list (to be provided by the instructor). Deadline: Wednesday, October 13th. 5% of grade
3. Generate an annotated bibliography of at least six scholarly sources of information about this new discovery/invention (e.g., Access Science, Wilson Omnifile, Academic Index ASAP & other multidisciplinary periodical indexes; CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics; Subject Research Guides; chemfinder.com; patent literature in Lexis -Nexis; MSDS info on the Web, e.g., msds.ehs.cornell.edu/msdssrch.asp; and other discipline-related encyclopedias and handbooks). Deadline: Wednesday, October 27th. 10% of grade
4. Write a term paper (two to three pages) on your chosen topic using the bibliography you made (see step 3.). Deadline: Wednesday, December 1st. 20% of grade
(Submitted by Dr. Claudia Stanny to Information Literacy: A Workshop for the Faculty at the University of West Florida, May 4-6, 2004.)
Assignments are designed to assist students understand the research process and develop their research proposals.
1. Library Research Assignment. (30 points)
a. Brief statement of the topic area for your research proposal. Describe the general area of interest that you will address when you develop your research proposal. (one or two paragraphs). (5 points)
b. Search Strategies
(1) Identify 5-6 keywords and subject terms (from the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms) that could be used to construct searches of electronic data bases. (3 points)
(2) Indicate how many hits combinations of these terms produced when you conducted your searches. You should search for additional terms or refine your search strategy if your searches produces too few or too many hits. (3 points)
c. Annotated Bibliography
(1) Identify one current review article on your topic area (within the last 5 years). (3 points)
(2) Identify one article that discusses methodological issues related to research in your topic area. This article might address a measurement issue related to your topic. (3 points)
(3) At least 10 scholarly sources that you believe will be useful for your proposal. Provide the full citation using correct APA style and give a brief annotation about the content: identify the problem studied, the variables manipulated and measured, a brief summary of the findings, and why you think this article is relevant to your topic. (10 points)
(4) 3 "near misses." These are sources that look promising when they show up in a data base search but are found to not actually be suitable as sources for your proposal. Provide the full citation using correct APA style and explain why you thought the article might have been useful and why you decided it was not. (3 points)
The bibliography should be prepared using APA format for citations.
2. Integrative Journal Summary. (25 points)
Select two related articles that report empirical findings from your annotated bibliography. Write a 2-3 page paper based on theses two articles in which you do the following:
a. Identify the research problem that the two studies addressed. (Related articles will address similar research questions.) (5 points)
b. Give a brief summary of how each study approached the research problem, including a discussion of how the authors manipulated variables to create a meaningful comparison to answer the research question, the dependent measures used, and the important findings were used to support the answer they provide for the research question. (10 points)
c. Describe how the two studies are related. Studies might be related in a variety of ways. For example, one study might support the findings of the first study and show how they might be extended to a new domain. Or one study might identify a problem in the way the first study was carried out and provide evidence that different outcomes and conclusions emerge when different procedures are used. (5 points)
d. Evaluate the relative merits of the two studies and suggest how the combined findings should be interpreted. Support your assertions. (3 points)
e. Provide the full APA citation for the articles using correct APA format in a Reference section. (2 points)
Attach photocopies of the articles summarized (these will be returned).
Journal Reaction Papers should be typed and should be approximately 2-3 pages in length. Summaries must only follow APA format for citation of references and use of language. Other APA guidelines are not relevant for these summaries.
Created by Douglas Low and Melissa Finley Gonzalez using materials submitted to Information Literacy: A Workshop For the Faculty at the University of West Florida, May 4-6, 2004. Materials were submitted by Workshop presenters Dr. Michael Stoloff and Lynn Cameron, from James Madison University, and by Workshop participants Dr. Tim Royappa and Dr. Claudia Stanny from University of West Florida. Tutorial materials from John C. Pace Library at UWF were also used.
Now it's time to test what you've learned. Click here to test your knowledge. Be sure to print out your score or e-mail it to yourself or your instructor as proof that you have completed this tutorial.