Information Literacy and Internet Research - Wiki workshop


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  • This session is aimed to introduce some research skills for Wikipedia editors particularly those working in India, with the constraints of poor libraries, on India related articles. The ideas introduced here are independent of language but for many fields, especially in science and technology, the best sources continue to be those that are published in English.
  • We are bombarded by information all the time. We take in information via our senses. We process information and convert into knowledge and wisdom that can be used at a later point of time. Information sources include the physical and biological environment, the people we interact with and media - writings, video and audio. Only a tiny fraction of the information around us is processed by each one of us.
  • Here is a visual representation that attempts to show what data, information, knowledge and wisdom are. Data and information are what computers deal with while knowledge and wisdom are largely human constructs.
  • Although Wikipedia has an expansive vision statement, the actual content that can go into Wikipedia is just a small fraction. And even the fraction of explicit knowledge is largely inaccessible in places like India.
  • We constantly evaluate the reliability of information that we receive. There are questions of reliability that arise at the point at which they are produced ( is the author reliable ?) the message that is being produced (is the content reliable ?) the medium / publisher (is someone else vouching for reliability ?) the receiver (are we getting the information right ?) Naturally there are too many places where mistakes can be made.
  • Our senses themselves can be unreliable. Here is the famous checkerboard illusion. Are the grey shades of A & B the same?
  • Incredible is it not ? Nothing is quite black and white is it.
  • The only difference between the two images is in the level of contrast between the greys. The processes behind our perception are subtle.
  • An illustration by Hungarian artist Istvan Orosz which perhaps captures the dangers of taking the printed word for granted.
  • Information literacy is just a new term for a rather old idea. Some of the roots were established by the famous dictionary compiler Samuel Johnson in 1791.
  • The idea of building upon the ideas of others through scholarship is older still.
  • The key components of information literacy. It starts with the need to know which begins from recognizing ignorance.
  • Libraries made use of card indexes - which are rapidly going out of date. Searching the Internet is not easy. It is easy to miss content and sometimes it can be very hard to find relevant content. Search engines are not semantic - cannot distinguish a man-eating tiger from a man eating a tiger.
  • Learn to use search engines. Know when to use the negative sign - Know the search operators site: filetype:
  • Libraries are still of value.
  • Indian Libraries are not particularly known for being accessible. They are poorly funded in most cases and there is no mandate to provide service to ordinary citizens. Librarians in India are largely gate-keepers and book-maintainers.
  • Get to know the kinds of sources in your area of interest.
  • Learn to evaluate sources.
  • Learn to keep notes, be ethical, know what is right and what is wrong. Ethics is mostly about putting yourself in the place of the other person who is affected in a decision and seeing if you would approve of it if you were in the other person’s place. Laws exist to catch you when your ethics fail, stay above it.
  • Making the process of research transparent is good. The line between learning and teaching is blurry. We learn far more from our peers (horizontally) than from teachers (vertically).
  • Comment on the reliability and appropriateness in citing the following books in an article related to the Indian economy. Feel free to search for information on the author/editor, subject and the publishers.
  • Identify the nature of the sources in the images above. Comment on their reliability. Are there any situations where you would accept them as sources to be cited? Where would you accept them? Where would you not accept them?
  • Information Literacy and Internet Research - Wiki workshop

    1. 1. Information literacy and Internet research for Wikipedia editors Shyamal LSHYAMAL @ GMAIL . COM User:Shyamal Content includes copyrighted images used for instruction (non-commercial - fair-use)
    2. 2. Information • environment via senses • people • media – print - books ... – tv, radio, film … – internet
    3. 3. © David McCandless
    4. 4. “ the sum of all human knowledge ” Source:
    5. 5. Reliability ? Shannon-Weaver communication model - by Einar Fannes Reputation: based on creator, content and publisher
    6. 6. © Richard Russell -
    7. 7. © Artist: István Orosz
    8. 8. Information Literacy old roots Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it... - Samuel Johnson (1791)
    9. 9. Information Literacy If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants - Isaac Newton, 1676 other version from at least the 12th century In Greek mythology the blind giant Orion carried his servant Cedalion on his shoulders. Image source:,_Rosenwald_4,_Bl._5r.jpg
    10. 10. Information Literacy •Searching - know needs, finding sources •Evaluating - primary/secondary/tertiary sources - evaluating content •Using (ethically) - synthesising, citing, paraphrasing - copyrights, plagiarism •Sharing - publishing - archiving, licensing for reuse
    11. 11. Searching Search engines not semantic incomplete - deep web (>90% of Internet - not indexed) People are resources specialist sites, email list-servers, other groups Not all information is in soft format OCR-ed material often error prone Published sources Sometimes inaccessible Sometimes expensive Author archives Find and contact authors Source:
    12. 12. Search engines Google currently considered the best Advanced usage •Site specification •Filetype specification •Using Google Scholar •The Internet Archive
    13. 13. The Internet is a library but not a replacement yet Cartoon © by Ed Stein
    14. 14. Libraries in India •Public libraries •Specialist libraries •Attached to institutions •government bodies, courts, universities •State Archives
    15. 15. Internet resources Digital libraries Journal websites Subject specific websites databases / bibliographies Finding experts Email listservers Social networking Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
    16. 16. Evaluating Primary / secondary and tertiary sources Author credibility Publisher Reviews Citation of others - quality of scholarship Citations by others Recognize quality indicators or their lack Identify plagiarism or copyright violations Contact and interact with authors
    17. 17. Using Research material, keep notes Bibliographic tools - Zotero, Mendeley Cite authors inline Know the copyright law - rise above it License openly esp. if you are govt. funded Avoid plagiarism including close paraphrasing
    18. 18. Sharing Share bibliographies and reviews Archive your own publications online Share your knowledge, media Interact online with the public without discrimination Learning and teaching indistinguishable continuous processes Image:
    19. 19. Questions L. Shyamal < LSHYAMAL @ GMAIL.COM > Wikipedia editor : User:Shyamal
    20. 20. Pick a topic Under Wikiproject India - preferably a topic that is unfamiliar and one that deals with something outside of popular culture
    21. 21. Research the topic Locate books, journals, websites Identify the type of source Comment on reliability Use Zotero to create bibliography Make notes Install Zotero for Firefox from
    22. 22. Improve an article Paraphrase and synthesize Use the citation templates