With so much going on in the library, I had put aside my information literacy series. But it’s time to get back to business. If standard 1 deals with the ability to know when you need outside information and what type, standard 2 is the stage when you go get it!
- What kinds of sources will you need? If you need books and the library doesn’t have them, this is the time to put in that Interlibrary loan request. If you need scholarly journal articles, make sure you know how to select peer-reviewed journals in the various databases.
- Come up with good search terms. One of the reasons that students often get frustrated when searching for sources is that they don’t think through their keywords in searching. They either try too general a term (like war) that gives them too many hits to work with or they get too specific. In this latter case, students may try to find an article or book that will answer the entire assignment for them. Sometimes, at the library desk, we’ll get students who want a book on Plato’s thoughts on the current political crisis (What they need would be a book on Plato’s political theory and then apply it themselves to the current situation.)
- Searching often involves trying terms and then narrowing or broadening them as they get closer to sources that work for the assignment. For example, a search in EBSCOHost today on depression came up with more than 80,000 hits. Adding the second keyword “elderly” brought it down to 3000. Adding a third term “male” brought up 171 articles, a much more manageable figure.
- It would be worth your time to learn a bit more about search strategies, especially Boolean operators.
- Once you find the information, you need to be able to store it. Students have used some of the following methods:
- Cutting and pasting the pertinent information into a new document.
- Copying the entire article and highlighting the important information.
- Keeping notecards (Yes, it’s old-fashioned, but it works.)
You may have to experiment to find the method that works for you.
- Make sure that, whatever method you choose, you keep up with bibliographic information for your works cited page.