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Introducing Students to Library Research

Introduction

Please note the information contained in this guide is meant to help supplement a class, assignment, or curriculum. Please use the embed links or copy and paste the information into your course guide or site.

Locating information requires a combination of inquiry, discovery, and serendipity. There is no one size fits all source to find the needed information. Information discovery is nonlinear and iterative, requiring the use of a broad range of information sources and flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding is developed.

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<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/4CHKYaJkuO0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Learning goals

  • Select an appropriate search tool based on discipline and task at hand.
  • Construct a search based on keywords and use basic search strategies.
  • Condense or expand as necessary using search string and facets.
  • Remain persistent!

Suggested assignments

  1. Ask students to choose a topic, develop key terms to search with, and use two different databases to locate information on their topic. Have them compare the results in terms of quantity, types of sources (e.g., government, educational, scholarly, commercial), order/sequence of results, and relevance. Pair students who used different databases with the same topics to compare results.
  2. Ask students to write a critique of several databases in a particular discipline, including their coverage, design, and search interface. (Students need to be pointed to a list of databases).
  3. Assign students to identify and use subject headings after conducting a keyword search; after which they write a paragraph on the differences between subject and keyword searching.
  4. Ask students to Identify and record the terms used in different databases that cover the same topic. This assignment works well, for example,  for historical and out-of-date terms for race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Assignments for the frame Searching as Strategic Exploration from CORA.

Related guides and tutorials

From Question to Keyword (video produced by University Libraries, University of North Carolina Greensboro)

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This tutorial was created at the Chemistry Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
To embed it use the following code:
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xsSZps3NH-M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Suggested assessment questions

How can you narrow your search (check all that apply):

  • adding an additional keyword or concept
  • using database suggestions of ways to narrow
  • deleting a keyword
  • starting your search over

When you are searching article databases, the words AND, OR, and NOT work as Boolean operators. If you search for "Food OR Diet", you will*:

  • narrow your search
  • retrieve records that include both terms
  • retrieve records that include either term
  • eliminate records containing the second term

If you search for "Food NOT Drink", you will:

  • narrow your search
  • retrieve records that include both terms
  • retrieve records that include either term
  • eliminate records containing the second term

Which statement describes the best way to find books on careers in public health?

  • careers AND public AND health
  • careers NOT “public health”
  • careers AND “public health”
  • careers OR public OR health

Keyword quiz (interactive) Keyword Challenge - 21st Century Information Fluency Tutorial (Flash)

Assessment materials for the frame Searching as Strategic Exploration from the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox.

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