Library Instruction Topics

The Library's instruction sessions are based on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. Sessions can be requested on the following topics, customized for your course. For more information or to request a session, see our main Instruction page.

Evaluating authority

Authority is a type of influence that comes from information creators’ expertise and credibility. There can be different perspectives about what constitutes authority and biases that privilege some types of authority over others. How you evaluate authority depends on the task at hand.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize different types of authority, such as subject expertise
  • Use indicators of authority to determine if a source meets a specific information need
  • Evaluate information with a skeptical stance and an awareness of bias

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Evaluating sources
  • Evaluating information in different contexts

Understanding types of information

Different types of information (e.g. peer-reviewed articles) go through different processes of creation and dissemination, which are integral to the final product. Various information types are valued and used differently depending on the context (e.g. academia or the workplace).

Learning Outcomes

  • Distinguish between common categories of sources (e.g. scholarly and popular)
  • Determine the creation processes behind different types of information
  • Choose a type of information that is appropriate for a particular need

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Scholarly vs popular sources
  • Peer-review process
  • Types of information
  • Primary sources
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Scholarly publishing
  • Where to publish
  • Research data management

Using information ethically

Using information ethically means understanding the rights and responsibilities of participating in scholarship, including concepts such as academic integrity and copyright. Information ethics involves recognizing how information systems can marginalize certain voices.

Learning Outcomes

  • Credit others’ ideas through accurate citation and proper use of sources
  • Discuss concepts related to the political economy of information (e.g. using licensed content, commodification of personal information, information production, access, and privilege)
  • Consider authors’ rights in the context of various scholarly publishing models

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Citing sources
  • Academic integrity and plagiarism
  • Using sources as evidence
  • Citation management
  • Copyright
  • Open access journals
  • Predatory journals

Researching through inquiry

Research is an iterative process based on asking questions and developing new lines of inquiry. The process includes conducting open-ended background research, refining research questions, and exploring diverse perspectives on a topic.

Learning Outcomes

  • Formulate research questions that have the right scope for a specific project
  • Seek multiple perspectives while gathering information
  • Synthesize and analyze ideas that come from many different sources

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Developing a research question
  • Focusing/narrowing a topic
  • Synthesizing sources
  • Improving or developing a thesis
  • Incorporating or using sources effectively

Searching strategically

Searching for information is often a nonlinear process that can take unexpected turns, so it requires strategy. Determining what to search for, where to search, how to search, and how to manage results are all part of an effective search strategy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the type of information needed (e.g. news article)
  • Select appropriate search tools
  • Develop a search strategy, evaluate the results, and revise it as needed
  • Use various types of searching language effectively (e.g. keywords and subject headings)

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Selecting an appropriate search tool and using it effectively
  • Doing background research and using reference tools
  • Finding different types of information (e.g. scholarly or primary sources; industry, company or market information, scores, government information, data and statistics, news sources, legal information)
  • Finding specific information (e.g. finding an article from a citation)
  • Creating and revising search strategies
  • Using search language effectively (keywords, subjects, Boolean)
  • Broadening or narrowing search concepts

Participating in scholarly conversations

Scholarly conversations occur among communities of researchers who engage with one another’s ideas. The conversations are ongoing, shift over time, and can include competing perspectives. To enter scholarly conversations, researchers need to gain familiarity with the sources, methods, and discourse in their area of research.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop strategies for reading scholarly texts
  • Identify key scholars and landmark studies on a topic
  • Situate a source within the context of ongoing conversations about a topic

Possible instruction/workshop topics

  • Identifying key scholars
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Literature reviews
  • Cited reference searching
  • How to read a scholarly article