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Information Skills: Roadmap

E-learning clip: information skills


You follow the nine steps in order to carry out your search for information. Once you’ve taken all the steps, you’ll be able to find relevant information more quickly for your assignment, research, etc. In addition, you will have learned to critically consider and assess the information you find in various sources. You’ll also learn to use and cite the information you’ve found correctly in your own report. 

The nine search steps (based on Big6 (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 2011)) are as follows:

1. Preparation First identify your information need. Then familiarise yourself with your topic. What do you already know about it? You should also familiarise yourself with the terms that are commonly used in relation to the topic. Finally, define your information need precisely, e.g. in relation to language, geography or period.

2. Formulate a search query Based on your information need, formulate a specific search query (consisting of a main question and sub-questions). It is important to formulate your search query carefully, because this increases the likelihood you will find information which is of sufficient relevance to answering the search query.

3. Search terms Before you start searching, define as many relevant search terms as possible which you can use in your search.

4. Search methods In addition to using suitable search terms in your search, your search process and search result will benefit if you search systematically and use defined methods. Working systematically and using search methods helps you control your search.

5. Search strategies Using or combining search terms in a certain way has been shown to be much more effective. This increases the likelihood of you getting the search result you want.

6. Information sources Determine which sources of information are suitable for your search query.

7. Assessing Assess the quality and relevance of the information you’ve found and the sources you’ve used (incl. websites), based on a number of quality criteria. On the basis of this, you select the information which you can actually use for your research.

8. Processing and sharing (Re-)use the information correctly and legally by citing the sources used in your product and including these in a proper reference list, based on the citation rules set by your degree course (e.g. APA).

9. Evaluating Evaluate your search and the search result. How efficient was the search process? Did you miss a lot of relevant information? Or did you actually find lots of irrelevant information? Why might this have happened?

You record how you carry out your search in a logbook.