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Not sure what we can teach, or how long a topic will take? The lists below show our most popular topics: finding sources, evaluating sources, using sources, and course specific options. The points covered and concepts columns help explain our key objectives for the topics.  

This is not an exhaustive list; if you would like other resources or topics addressed, we’d be happy to discuss the options with you.

Finding Sources:

Time Required Points Covered Concepts
Brainstorm research topics 15 minutes
  • Brainstorming ideas with the help of concept mapping and/or topic development databases
  • Narrowing or broadening topic to fit the scope of a research project
Search the catalog 10 minutes
  • Finding books and videos on a topic
  • Using call numbers to locate items in the building, identifying links to online content, and Interlibrary loan links for content we do not own
Search SuperSearch 15 minutes
  • Developing a search strategy
  • Finding sources on topic
  • Using the “find full text” link to retrieve articles
Search a specialized database 30 minutes
  • Searching for topics in discipline- specific or specialized databases (PsycINFO, ERIC, Passport GMID, etc.)
Track the literature 25 minutes
  • Reading and interpreting citations from an article
  • Tracking the literature through mining references and articles citing a work
  • Finding full text

Evaluating Sources:

Time Required Points Covered Concepts
Evaluate source credibility   50 - 75 minutes
  • Identifying characteristics of credibility via websites
Contextualize source authority 50 to 75 minutes
  • Analyzing the credibility of a range of sources
What is a scholarly article? 20 minutes
  • Identifying characteristics of scholarly articles
  • Discussing the peer-review process
Identify types of scholarly articles 15 minutes
  • Comparing and distinguishing between: research articles and literature reviews; primary vs. secondary

Using Sources:

Topic Time Required
Points Covered Concepts
Avoid plagiarism by using APA or MLA 30 - 75 minutes
  • Understanding when to cite
  • Using the APA or MLA LibGuides
  • Creating references and in-text citations
Paraphrasing: Best practices 30 minutes
  • Formulating guidelines for source use
  • Distinguishing differences between good and bad paraphrasing
Synthesize sources for a literature review 30 minutes
  • Incorporating sources into research project

Course-specific options:

Topic Time Required Points Covered Concepts
Univ 100: Library Challenge 50 minutes

Students play a Jeopardy-style game complete with buzzers and prizes to learn about McConnell Library

  • Getting familiar with the library

Concept Descriptions

The following are core ideas in information literacy, as outlined in the ACRL's Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, with wording adapted from Ohio University Libraries. The workshops listed above work towards developing a fuller understanding of these concepts. If you have questions regarding what might best fit your assignment's objectives, please contact Jennifer Resor-Whicker, Coordinator of Library Instruction, at 540-831-6801 or to discuss the possibilities.

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

  • Who we trust as an expert depends on why we need the information & who’s doing the trusting.
  • Authority exists because a community gives it to someone. Beware: sometimes authority comes mostly from “privilege” that can drown out other voices.
  • Good thinkers consider information skeptically, but keep an open mind.

Workshop examples: Evaluate websites, Contexualize source authority

Information Creation is a Process

  • The way information is shared changes the way it is created, and vice versa.
  • Good information can come in any format. Every format has its benefits and drawbacks, including assumptions about quality and authority that may or may not be true.

Workshop examples: What is a scholarly article?; Identify types of scholarly articles

Information Has Value

  • Information is worth money. It can be bought and sold.
  • It is valuable because seekers learn from it & use it to influence others.
  • Economic, legal, and social forces influence how it is created, used, packaged & traded.

Workshop examples: What is a scholarly article?; Avoid plagiarism by using APA or MLA

Research is Inquiry

  • Research is seldom a straight line with an answer at the end. It is a spiral of deeper questions that arise as understanding grows.
  • The more a researcher works, the more skill and perspective they gain about the process itself.

Workshop examples: Brainstorm a research topic, Search SuperSearch

Scholarship is a Conversation

  • Researchers talk to one another, even across the centuries, gathering new ideas into old questions. The interplay creates new things.
  • There may be many answers to a single question.
  • A researcher may have to earn the right / learn the rules to speak in a given conversation, depending on who / what is already “in the room.” It might not be fair.
  • When someone adds a new idea, they must say whose ideas they gathered to get that far.

Workshop examples: Track the literature, What is a scholarly article?

Searching is Strategic Exploration

  • Searching is a skill set: search mechanics matter.
  • The mental flexibility to ask a question in many different ways of many different kinds of sources – and learn as you go – is also necessary.
  • Who you are affects how you search. Learn to stretch.
  • Searching can get convoluted; stay organized.

Workshop examples: Brainstorm research topics, Search SuperSearch, Search a specialized database

Concept descriptions:

CC Attribution-NonCommercial License CC-BY-NC

Saines, S.; Broughton, K.; Intrator, M.; Schmillen, H.; & Wochna, L. (2017). How information works: ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in lay language. ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox. Retrieved from