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Information Literacy: Research as inquiry

Provides resoures on information literacy standards, handouts, and research guidance to support students' needs at various points through the program.


The information literate student is able to:

  • formulate questions for research based on information gaps or on reexamination of existing, possibly conflicting, information;
  • determine an appropriate scope of investigation;
  • deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones, limiting the scope of investigations;
  • use various research methods, based on need, circumstance, and type of inquiry; 
  • monitor gathered information and assess for gaps or weaknesses;
  • organize information in meaningful ways;
  • synthesize ideas gathered from multiple sources;
  • draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information.

Analyze the Assignment

Before you formulate your topic or begin researching, you want to carefully review the assignment.  Knowing the requirements before you being will save you time and help you choose an appropriately-focused topic.  

  • How many pages are required?
  • How many sources are required?
  • Are there requirements on the types of resources you can use?
  • Who is your audience?  Will you need to explain basic concepts or can you assume your audience will already have rudimentary knowledge of the topic?


Information literate learners:

  • consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information;
  • appreciate that a questions may appear to be simple but still disruptive and important to research;
  • value intellectual curiosity in developing questions and learning new investigative methods;
  • maintain an open mind and a critical stance;
  • value persistence; adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process;
  • seek multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment;
  • seek appropriate help when needed;
  • follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information;
  • demonstrate intellectual humanity (i.e., recognize their own intellectual or experiential limitations).

Refining your Search

Searching as an iterative process.  You will do an initial search, assess the strength of your keywords and search terms based on the results, and use what you learn to further refine future searches.  When conducting a search, you will:

  • Evaluate the strength of your search terms
  • Utilize limiters to narrow your results
  • Read abstracts to make sure you're on the right track
  • Access full-text of the articles or request the articles through interlibrary loan