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Information Skills: Introduction

Reference managers

A reference manager is a web application that can help you save, organise, cite and share references (the sources you have used). HAN has a licence for RefWorks for this purpose. You can find more information about creating an account and working with RefWorks in the separate RefWorks library guide.

There are also free reference managers, such as Zotero and Mendeley.

Diagnostic test

What are information skills?

You have information skills if you are able to gather, assess, process and present reliable information in a systematic way. This is an important part of the ‘research skills’ competence. You acquire information skills by systematically going through the process of searching for information. The steps in this guide will help you with this.

·        Using a range of search strategies

·        Understanding the search process

·        Identifying the characteristics of various sources and types of information

·        Testing the quality of (web) information

·        Drawing up a correct reference list in accordance with the standard used by your degree course (e.g. APA)

·        Evaluating your search process and the search result


From the first step, you should record what you’ve done in your search for information. Creating structure allows you to maintain an overview of the search process.

If you keep a record of your search and results during the search, you can adjust the process as necessary. This allows you to see which search terms and sources you’ve used, and you’ll be able to find this information again later.

You will also need a record of your search process and results for the assessment of your final product. The person who is assessing the result needs to be able to verify how you searched and what information you found.


At HAN, we have made a logbook that you can use to record your search process. This form is just one example. You can record your search any way you like, as long as it is recorded in sufficient detail.

In the logbook, you write down the search query. You also make a note of the search terms you are going to use and how you will combine them in your search (search strategy and search method). In your search plan, you also note down which sources you are going to consult, what your search result was (you need this to acknowledge your sources) and how you assessed the usefulness of this search result.