Over the past twenty years the Association of College and Research Libraries has created standards, and now, frameworks to help guide in the development of information literacy classes. Think of these six frames as the scaffolding that will help support your acquisition of information literacy skills. Use these as a guide for how to proceed, and understand that they need not be followed in any particular order as the steps to researching effectively should be flexible and fluid.
Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
Who created the information sources you are using? Are they experienced in the subject area you are investigating? The expertise and credibility of the creators’ of information is important as it represents their authority in the field. “Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.”
Information Creation as a Process
Information is produced in many formats including print and online, with different purposes and delivery methods. Information can be formal or informal, scholarly or entertainment based. “Information in any format is produced intentionally to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.”
Information Has Value
Information is property and therefore has a value. In the United States, information is often protected by copyright. An author may retain the rights to his or her work, and there are rules for how to acknowledge this, for instance, when sources are cited, the author is acknowledged as being the creator of that information. The value of their authorship is respected. “Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination”.
Research as Inquiry
When researching a topic, often you come across information that prompts you to ask questions, or seek additional information. Combining and recombining facts and data, and reframing increasingly complex questions about a topic, is an important part of the research process. “Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.”
Scholarship as Conversation
The interaction of scholars and researchers allows information and data to be shared, and to move among communities. The background work of scholarship can be as informal as a face-to-face discussion or brainstorming session or as formal as an article in a scholarly journal. The conversation may be a metaphor for wider communications through publishing online and in print. . “Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.”
Searching as Strategic Exploration
You will probably begin with a general topic when you begin your research. As you discover more about your topic, you may find that it is too broad for your needs, and you may decide to narrow your focus to some aspect of your topic. Or you may discover additional information that you hadn’t considered, and which changes the course of your research. Flexibility and critical thinking are important in the research process. . “Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a broad range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding is developed.”