George Mason University
February 20, 2014
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What is Information Literacy?
“Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to
recognize when information is needed and have the ability to
locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information.”*
• Determine the extent of information needed
• Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
• Evaluate information and its sources critically
• Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
• Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
• Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use
of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
* Association of College and Research Libraries. “Information Literacy Competency Standards.” Chicago: American Library
Association, 2000. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency. Web. 16 Feb 2013.
Standard 3: The information literate student evaluates information
and its sources critically by applying relevant criteria.
Be an Information Detective
For college research papers, you
must use credible sources.
Internet research is acceptable,
but not all websites are reliable.
How can you be sure information
on a website is trustworthy?
Think like a detective!
Ask questions and confirm your
findings with multiple sources.
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Follow the Clues
When you are searching for information on the Internet, keep
a few basic questions in mind:
Who is the author? Is there a sponsoring organization?
What is the purpose of this website? Is it informational,
entertaining, or commercial?
Where did the information come from? Do they provide a
list of sources or citations?
When was this page created and last updated?
Why is this a reliable source for a paper or presentation?
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Who is the Author?
Who uploaded the content
or created the website?
Are they qualified to write
about this topic?
Did they provide any contact
What organization sponsors
What is the Purpose?
Is the website informational,
entertaining, or commercial?
What is the domain?
(.com, .org, .edu, .gov)
Who is the main audience?
Are there ads or popups?
Does the information sell a
specific product or service?
Where is the Information From?
Does the author clearly state
the purpose of the site?
Does the organization have a
known political agenda?
Can the information be
verified with other sources?
How persuasive is the
Can you find another side
to the story?
When was the Page Updated?
Does the page have a “Last
Are links to other websites
When is the most recent
update or post?
Are the graphics and colors
Is the information relevant?
Why is This a Reliable Source?
You may not be able to answer to each of these questions for
every website. Consider the importance of each before
deciding to cite a website. If in doubt, ask a librarian.
The best websites for conducting research:
Have known, reputable authors with contact information.
Are sponsored by legitimate, trustworthy organizations.
Support clearly-stated educational, not commercial, purposes.
Do not endorse a political agenda or sell products.
Maintain current information and are updated regularly.
Have More Questions? Just Ask!
Fenwick Library / (703) 993-2210
Arlington Campus Library / (703) 993-8230
Johnson Center Library / (703) 993-9070
Mercer Library / (703) 993-8342
Text: (703) 291-1GMU [703-291-1468]
Schedule a personal research appointment with an
expert Liaison Librarian.
E-Mail research questions to your Liaison Librarian
Browse frequently asked questions.
View InfoGuides - resources carefully selected by
your Liaison Librarian for research at Mason.
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