Information Literacy Instruction

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This presentation is an information literacy instruction tool for a composition course.

This presentation is an information literacy instruction tool for a composition course.

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  • The Internet is a vast place that has a lot of information that is useful for you, the user, but also that gets overwhelming and it can be difficult to sort out what is relevant and what is reliable.
  • The pros and cons show us that we should still use the Web when conducting research, but that we need to learn how to search it effectively and evaluate each resource.
  • What are the solutions to the problems laid out in the last slide?
  • Essentially, all the information I am about to present to you seems like a daunting task of memorization. However, if you can remember just a few of the basics and then look up the rest whenever you need to, this should essentially make your research progress easier and less time consuming.
  • Who can remember these five? Let’s just break it down into two essential categories that incorporate these five critieria.
  • Click on the link to use the web page evaluation checklist while you are conducting research.
  • Dates: For some types of information, like stem cell research for instance, it is important to obtain current resources that have either been published or recently updated. On the other hand, the history of Shakespeare and theatre hasn’t really changed since it materialized and therefore a source that is 10 years old could still be very useful, if it meets all the criteria.Author: Check who is presenting this information. We want to hear from scientists about stem cell research and from English instructors and scholars about Shakespeare. If the author doesn’t want to be associated with the information, it is a red flag. Why wouldn’t you want to be connected to the hard work and research you conducted yourself? If an author has authority in a field, they should show up in a Google search.Web site: What is the site’s purpose? To sell something—which could be a conflict of interest—or to educate? Root URL domain names can be helpful when identifying web sites; however, .org is no longer just for non-profit organizations, and .edu can be associated with a personal page.Example: I took a class on Holocaust Literature in undergrad and did some research for a project. I found a website that was a .edu (pro) but had a tilde and a username after the .edu (con) but that was written by a professor from the university (pro). However, when I Googled his name, I found out he was a Holocaust denier (con). Do I want to use this information? Why or why not? What else can I do?
  • The statistics were not correct. Two female faculty members were present at the conference when the Guerilla Girls handed out these flyers. They lost their credibility and part of their target audience will now most likely ignore everything they have to say next. What was probably the problem with the statistics? There is a credible group author and the purpose was educational. The CAA is the College Arts Association. Let’s look back at our criteria for evaluating web sites….no date is listed. Could these be old statistics? Does date matter in this case? Yes.
  • Wikipedia can be changed and although it is becoming more reliable as time progresses, it is still not a peer edited source and can easily have flaws. What can we do if you want to use the information on Wikipedia but recognize that it isn’t reliable and that (most likely) your instructor is not allowing you to use Wikipedia? Use the references section to find the original source of information and use it as your secondary source instead. This also makes searching faster and easier! Someone has done part of the work for you.
  • Google searches based on popularity and with so much information out there, their robots cannot locate all sources of information. How to we find the gold nuggets of information out there?
  • Subject directories already did a lot of the searching for you. Use the subject directory comparison chart to see how these differ. Internet public library and Infomine are more reliable sources of information. Start there first.
  • These are subject directories put together by Cleveland State Community College and by myself.
  • Just look up what Boolean operators each information retrieval system uses first by clicking on the Advanced Search option.


  • 1.
    Information Smart:Conducting Research for the Composition Course
    Presentation by Natalie Couch
  • 2.
  • 3. Research & the Web
    Vast amounts of information
    Largely unorganized
    Generally, not peer reviewed
    Information not permanent
    Sometimes the information is not free
    Vast amounts of information
    Freedom: whenever and wherever with Internet access
    Variety in information and formats (text, video, audio)
  • 4.
  • 5. Solutions
    Evaluate Web sources
    Use online subject directories
    Seek out open access journals and E-books
    Consider your library’s services: databases, catalog, subject guides, and other resources
    Search smarter, not harder!
  • 6. 5 Criteria for Evaluating Web Sources
  • 7. Relevance & Reliability
    Relation to the matter; pertinent, applicable
    Accurate, dependable
    *Try it at home: “Web Page Evaluation Checklist” from University of California Berkley Library
  • 8. Searching for Reliability
    Of publication, last edited, first uploaded to Web
    Author (ethos):
    Credentials, other works, Google the author, is there even an author listed??
    Web site
    About page, root URL domains (.com, .edu, .org), personal pages (~, users, members), purpose, advertisements
  • 9. Let’s explore what’s out there
    Compare with
    Have you heard of the pregnant man?
    The Gorilla Girls strike out and University of South Carolina faculty strike back:
  • 10.
  • 11. Let’s take a closer look….
    …What is missing?
  • 12. Works Cited/References
    Use to evaluate the reliability of a source
    Can be used as search tools
    Let’s take a look at Wikipedia:
    EASY!! Cut out some of the seeking process. Know the tricks of the trade!
  • 13. The Invisible Web
  • 14. Subject Directories
    Recommended Subject Directories & Tips
  • 15. Open Access and the Invisible Web
    Free, reliable, and with the freedom of the Web!
    No database search function
    Not as much search precision, but can be improved upon using searching tips.
  • 16. Library Resource Guides
    General Subject Guides
    English Composition I
    Databases by Subject
    Literature, Newspapers, Current Events
    English Composition subject directory
  • 17. Search Smarter, Not Harder
    Advanced Search
    Search by subject, author, publication date, etc.
    Boolean operators
    Relationships [AND, OR, NOT]
    Exact phrase [“” or ( )]
    Wildcard [ * ]
    Consider word choice
    Dog OR canine
    Tobacco, smoking, cancer, legislation, advertising…
  • 18.
  • 19. AND
  • 20. Your Academic Librarian
    If you cannot find the information you are looking for within a reasonable amount of time, do not hesitate to ask a librarian for assistance.
    After all, that’s what we are here for!