4. Information Literacy

What does it mean to be information literate? Simply stated, information literate individuals “know how to find, evaluate and use information effectively.”[1]

In college, you typically find, evaluate, and use information to satisfy the requirements of an assignment. Assignments often specify what kind of information you need and what tools you should use – or avoid – in your research. For example, your professor may specify that you need three peer-reviewed resources from academic articles and that you should not cite Wikipedia in your final paper. However, in life beyond college – especially the work world – you may not have that kind of specific guidance. You need to be information literate in order to plan and perform your own research efficiently, effectively, and with the needs of your audience in mind.

You might be thinking, “Research? I’ve got that covered. That’s what the Internet is for, right?” In fact, it is much more than doing a simple search engine query and reviewing the first ten results it returns. A 2012 study by Project Information Literacy (PIL) interviewed 33 employers and found that they were dissatisfied with the research skills of recently graduated hires. Employers cited recent graduates’ over-reliance on online search tools and the first page of results as reasons for their dissatisfaction. Research performed by recent graduates was too superficial and lacked analysis and synthesis of multiple types of information from a variety of sources.[2]

In this chapter, you will learn

  • how to identify different information formats;
  • where to conduct your research;
  • how to search effectively;
  • how to evaluate sources you find

Chapter Attribution Information

This chapter was derived by Annemarie Hamlin, Chris Rubio, and Michele DeSilva, Central Oregon Community College, from the following sources:


  1. American Library Association. (1989). Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/whitepapers/presidential.
  2. Head, A.J. (2012). Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Problems Once They Join the Workforce. (Project Information Literacy Research Report: The Passage Series). Retrieved from http://projectinfolit.org/images/pdfs/pil_fall2012_workplacestudy_fullreport_revised.pdf.

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4. Information Literacy by Allison Gross, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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