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Information Literacy Tutorial: Start Here!

Start Here!

Before you start with the first step of the information seeking process, scroll down to take a survey that will help us understand what you already know about information literacy and the skills necessary to use information responsibly.

The Research Process: An Overview

Evaluate your information seeking skills before you begin this tutorial.

Results are anonymous and used to assess the effectiveness of this tutorial.

The Information Seeking Process

Step 1.  Pose a Research Question.

A research question is a clear, focused, concise, complex and arguable question around which you center your research. 


Why is a research question essential to the research process?

Research questions help writers focus their research by providing a path through the research and writing process.

A well-developed research question helps you work toward supporting a specific, arguable thesis.

More tips on formulating research questions can be found at the George Mason University Writing Center

Step 2. Search for Information.

This part of the research process helps you develop awareness of the literature in the field relating to your research question.

By using library databases, the library catalog, and other sources, you can discover how professional scholars treat topics related to your research question.

Once you have located and read several articles or books, you will begin to understand how the information in the literature will support (or not) a thesis related to your research question.  

Developing an annotated bibliography is a part of your literature search and review process.

For more information about annotated bibliographies go here.

Step 3. Evaluate Informaton.

After locating and reading several articles or books related to your research question, make sure that what you have found is from reliable sources.  

Ask questions of your sources; consider the sources' accuracy and authority, currency, objectivity, and scope:

  • Is there an author or person responsible for the content?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • Is the information factual and unbiased?
  • When was this information published?
  • Is the publisher known for academic quality?
  • What is the breadth and depth of the source's coverage?

Step 4. Use Information Ethically

As you carefully read and deliberate the ideas in your sources of information, your analysis of the information and its relation to the research question will emerge.

Now you need to understand information ethics: citing sources and giving credit to those whose ideas you are going to use to frame your analysis of the research question. 

 

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