Inver Hills Community College - IHCC

Where Do I Start?

Table of Modules
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Module 1 Where Do I Start?
This module will explain different types of information sources you can use for your research. When you have completed this section of the tutorial you should be able to:
  • define Information Literacy
  • identify a variety of information sources
  • identify characteristics of library resources
  • identify characteristics of information on the Web
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 use effectively the needed information." --  American Library Association, 2000. 

Being information literate isn't just a skill to use in college. It can help you in everyday life as you research buying a new car, look to find credible medical information, or fact-check political statements. Being information literate means you know how to find, critically evaluate, and use the information from a variety of sources.  It helps you prevent information overload!

Video: Sarah Beach, South Devon College, England (Transcript for What is Information Literacy?)


Types of Sources

Information can come from virtually anywhere. The type of information you need will change depending on the question you are trying to answer.

Click on the link for each source to learn more about it.  When you have finished reading about all of the sources, continue to the next box.


How Do I Select the Right Source?

If you need:

You might try:

Background information such as the history of the internet or statistics on the number of children immunized against diseases in the United States

Books or Encyclopedias
Popular articles about new movies or social trends magazines 
Current information about a speech yesterday by the head of Ford Motor Company newspaper
or Web

Scholarly articles about the Chinese economy or the human genome

Why Use a Library to do Research?
  • Library resources go through a review process.
    Librarians select books, magazines, journals, databases, and Web sites. The library collects sources considered reliable, historically relevant, and valuable. Librarians choose resources that are relevant to your campus courses.

  • Library resources are free or discounted for your use.
    Libraries are able to purchase one copy which can be shared by many people.

  • Library resources are organized.
    Items are organized so you can find all the sources on a topic. For example, when you search for a book in the library catalog you will get a call number. The books shelved near the same call number will cover a similar topic.

  • Library resources are meant to be kept permanently.
    A primary function of a library is to be an organized storehouse of information published throughout time. As well as finding very current information, you can also find books that are no longer published and older issues of magazines.

  • Library resources come with personal assistance.
    Libraries have staff who are trained to help you. They'll help you learn to use online resources and answer any questions that you have.

The key idea when using the library is that you are getting quality over quantity You can efficiently find high quality information from a variety of credible resources in the library.

Why Shouldn't I Use Google for My Research?
  • Most information on the Web does not go through a review process.
    Anyone can publish on the Web without passing the content through an editor. Pages might be written by an expert on the topic, a journalist, a disgruntled consumer, or even a child.
  • Some information on the Web is not free.
    Many Web pages are free to view, but some commercial sites will charge a fee to access their information.
  • Information on the Web is not organized.
    Some directory services, like Yahoo, provide links to sites in subject lists. But there are too many Web pages for any single directory service to organize and index.

  • Most information on the Web is not comprehensive.
    Rarely will you be able to use a search engine on the Web to collect information about your topic from earlier decades and different types of sources.
  • Most information on the Web is not permanent.
    Some well-maintained sites are updated with very current information, but other sites may become quickly dated or disappear altogether without much if any notice.

Video from NEIU Ronald Williams Library




Think Fast! 
How well do you know the difference between what the Library provides vs. the Web?
Wrap Up
All right!

You've completed the Module 1 and should be able to:

  • define Information Literacy
  • identify a variety of information sources
  • identify characteristics of library resources
  • identify characteristics of information on the Web

Please continue to Module 3 Choosing a Topic.


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