2 What This Book Will Cover

An open book


This book acknowledges our changing information landscape, covering key concepts in information literacy to support a research process with intention. We start by critically examining the online environment many of us already engage with every day, looking at algorithms, the attention economy, information disorder and cynicism, information hygiene, and fact-checking. We then move into an exploration of information source types, meaningful research topics, keyword choices, effective search strategies, library resources, Web search considerations, the ethical use of information, and citation.

Key Questions

Throughout the book, we will explore a number of critical and timely questions, including:

  • Are Google search results really an unbiased presentation of the best available information on a research question?
  • How do algorithms and “engagement” on digital platforms influence the way that we perceive information, and each other?
  • In a world of misinformation and disinformation, how do we determine truth? How do we know which sources of information to trust?
  • When we find a source of information, how can we verify that it is a reliable and effective piece of evidence for our research?
  • Why might it be valuable to include different information types and formats in our research? How do we recognize when a resource has bias? Whose voices are included in our research, and whose are left out?
  • Why is choosing a topic so often the hardest part of the research process? What are some strategies for developing a meaningful research topic?
  • How do we break a research topic into an effective combination of keywords and phrases for searching? How can we avoid confirmation bias when choosing our keywords?
  • How do we search and find information through our college library? How are the materials organized in the library?
  • What are library “databases” and how are they different from Google? What kinds of information can be found in these databases, and what are the advantages of using them?
  • How has Web search become embedded in our daily lives, and what conveniences and concerns does this present? How can we conduct academic research effectively on the Web?
  • When we engage in the scholarly conversation through research, how can we respect intellectual property and academic integrity by using sources ethically?
  • How can we give credit to the work of others by citing our sources in MLA, APA, or another style?

Students walking and studying at tables in a college library, with books


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Introduction to College Research Copyright © by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book