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Information Literacy @ UWW

Information Literacy Questions

Information literacy is a set of skills that are important to know, not only during your time at UW-Whitewater, but as a part of the life-long learning you will experience after graduation. Information literacy enables you to recognize the value of information and use it to make informed choices in your personal, professional and academic lives. By the time you graduate from UW-Whitewater you will be expected to have learned to be information literate from various classes you’ve taken. In your library instruction session for English 102 we will focus on items 2, 3, 4, 5, & 8 below.

Consider asking yourself the following questions about your information literacy abilities as though you’ve been assigned a research project. Each question includes an example. Which questions can you answer in the affirmative with confidence now, and in which are you not yet fully experienced?

1. Can you state your topic and transform it into a researchable question?

  • For example, your topic is global warming. A researchable question might be “How has climate change affected agriculture in Mexico over the last 20 years?” 

2. Do you know what type of information would answer your question and what sources may contain that information?

  • For example, you need statistics and research studies about changes in Mexico’s crop production. Primary sources, such as governmental reports, and secondary sources, such as books and journal articles, would contain such information.

3. Can you break down your question into searchable concepts and efficiently use a resource’s search features to improve your search results?

  • For example, you select "climate change," agriculture, and Mexico for your search terms. In an online database you combine these keywords with Boolean operators (and/or/not), limiters and other techniques to find sources.

4. Can you understand and evaluate search results, and then select relevant, credible sources from them?

  • For example, you notice that your search results include older newspaper articles about New Mexico. You redesign your search to eliminate popular sources about that state and instead focus on recent scholarly articles about the country Mexico.

5. Do you know how to find and retrieve information that is available online or through your library as well as information that is not immediately available?

  • For example, you can find books in Andersen Library using call numbers and locations, as well as those available to be borrowed through UW Request and ILLiad (Interlibrary Loan).

6. Can you critically evaluate information retrieved from your research?

  • For example, you find an article on Mexico. You evaluate it based on authorship, accuracy, currency, objectivity, coverage, references, peer review, etc. to see whether you should use it to answer your question.

7. Can you organize, combine, and apply information to address your researchable question?

  • For example, you recognize and understand multiple perspectives on global warming and can include them when answering your question. You can write a summary of scholarly sources and cite those sources.

8. Do you know when your research techniques are efficient and productive, and do you know when and where to ask for help?

  • For example, you search for “global warming,” see the term “climate change,” and decide to search for that instead. You seek help from a librarian to focus your search on agriculture.

9. Do you understand how scholarly and popular information is produced, and that it is organized and distributed differently in various subject areas?

  • For example, you understand that scholarly books on climate change frequently take years to write and publish, whereas NASA’s blog entries on the topic can be published in a few minutes.

10. Do you respect copyright, know when and how to cite sources, and understand the social and political issues affecting information?

  • For example, in order to respect copyright you only quote short snippets of articles and to avoid plagiarism you cite each source you use. You know that information available online may not be copyright free and may not be equally available to all people.


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