Madison Research Essentials Toolkit


  • About the Madison Research Essentials Toolkit

    The MRE Toolkit was designed to equip students to:

    Use and understand the JMU Libraries. A brief introduction to their services can be found in the following video: Discovering the JMU Libraries (Part One)

    As well as complete the following learning objectives

    1. Recognize that information is available in a variety of formats

    2. Determine when information is needed and find it

    3. Evaluate the quality of information

    4. Use information effectively
    5. Employ appropriate technologies to complete assignments
    6. Use information ethically and legally

    For a quick overview of the MRE Toolkit and these learning objectives watch the following video: Discovering the JMU Libraries (Part Two)

    Directions for students enrolled in GCOM 121, 122, or 123:

    1. Watch the GCOM-Required tutorials located in each unit. The units should be watched in order: Discovering the JMU Libraries, Information Formats, Needing and Finding Information, Evaluating Information, Using Information, Information Technologies, and Information Ethics. If you need to review a section, you can click the rewind button. If you are a visual learner or you find yourself without access to sound, consider turning on the Closed Captions so you can read along with the presentation.

    2. Take the Canvas assessment located in your GCOM class. The name of the assessment will match the name of the unit being assessed.

    Questions? Click here for information regarding the information literacy requirements in Cluster One of General Education.

  • Toolbox Link to Information Formats Link to Evaluating InformationLink to Information Technologies Link to Needing And Finding Information Link to Information Ethics Link to Using Information
  • Tool

    Information Formats

    In this unit, the student will recognize that information is available in a variety of formats.
     

    Information Formats Video

    In this 3 minute and 40 second tutorial, find out why the form information takes is so important. This tutorial was created by Kathy Clarke.

    Information Formats Video Transcript

    [IMAGE of tools in the Madison Research Essential Toolkit]

    Narrator: Welcome back to the Madison Research Essentials Toolkit. With this tutorial we’ll be working with this learning outcome:

    [IMAGE of the Information Literacy learning objectives, focusing on the first competency]

    Narrator: “Recognize that information is available in a variety of forms including but not limited to, text, images and visual media” General Education, Information Literacy Learning Outcome.

    [IMAGE of a poster with the text “Form follows Function”]

    Narrator: Why is the form of information something we think it is important for you to understand early in your academic career? It is important because the form of information drives where you look for an answer. Let me explain.

    [IMAGE of a big dog sheltering a little dog]

    Narrator: For this example, I’m going to focus on scholarly information that is readily available in JMU Libraries and we’re going to move from the biggest type of source to progressively smaller ones.

    [IMAGE of the Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era]

    Narrator: Let’s say you have been assigned to write and research about something related to the Victorian Era, but you don’t even know what about the era you are going to write about. This is a great question for a really big source – an encyclopedia. And you might have already thought about consulting the biggest encyclopedia there is, Wikipedia. That might get you started, but I’m going to recommend you think about a subject encyclopedia, like the Encyclopedia of the Victoria Era. This four volume set is a comprehensive look at all aspects of the Era. Four volumes. Wikipedia gives the era 14 sections, while this encyclopedia covers over 600 elements of the era written by experts in each area. See the difference? What you get in convenience in Wikipedia you pay for in coverage scope.

    [IMAGE of a picture from the Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era]

    Narrator: While browsing through the encyclopedia, I find an entry on poverty and pauperism that looks interesting. Reading through this three page entry, I can find out that being poor was a pretty miserable experience during the era. There wasn’t much in terms of social safety nets and there was a large population of laborers whose skills were becoming obsolete. This entry also tells me about the big differences in the “haves” and “have-nots” and talks about some of the charitable institutions that formed during the period. I even find out there is sensational literature of the era where radical writers tried to bring the suffering of the poor to the attention of the public by writing graphically about the suffering of women and children.

    [IMAGE of an entry in the JMU library catalog of a book, “The Bitter Cry of Outcast London; An Inquiry into the Condition of the Abject Poor”]

    Narrator: OK, now the subject is more interesting. I’m narrowing and focusing in on a topic AND I’m finding sources along the way that will help me. This encyclopedia entry has a bibliography at the end that refers me to this book, “The Bitter Cry of Outcast London; An Inquiry into the Condition of the Abject Poor” in our E-book collection. And if I click on the subject heading: Poor-England-London-History-19th Century

    [IMAGE of an alphabetical listing of Subject Headings with the Poor-England-London-History-19th Century highlighted]

    Narrator: it leads me to seven other sources on this topic, including,

    [IMAGE of an entry in the JMU library catalog of a book, “Slumming: sexual and social politics in Victorian London”]

    Narrator: this one, a 400 page E-book about the intersection of the poor and the people and organizations that attempted to assist them. 400 pages. I use this as an example to give you an idea about what a scholarly book is designed to do. It takes a meaty topic and deals with it comprehensively in some depth. A book is smaller than an encyclopedia, but it gives more detail.

    [IMAGE of the e-book table of contents for “Slumming: sexual and social politics in Victorian London”]

    Narrator: This is an e-book, and this book also will cite sources just like the encyclopedia article did. Like this article from the Journal of Social History. This is another scholarly information “form.”

    [IMAGE of a full-text article]

    Narrator: New university scholars often make the mistake of thinking that the shorter the source the easier it will be to use. Not true. It is important for you to consider what type of source you need at a given time and then figure out what type to use. That is why understanding that information comes to you in a variety of forms is so important.

    [IMAGE of JMU Libraries list of Databases and Resources webpage]

    Narrator: And it isn’t just books. Just a look at the Research Database page in the libraries can give you sense of the variety of the kinds of information we provide. Statistics, music, films as well as resources tailored for specific disciplines are readily available in your libraries.

    [IMAGE of the JMU Libraries Background Information webpage]

    Narrator: We don’t need you to decipher what kind of source you need, but you should certainly ask a librarian for assistance. When you are new to a topic, consider a big source to get you going. JMU Libraries offers many subject encyclopedias in both print and electronic editions to get you going. Consult the Background Information Page on the libraries website to get started

    [IMAGE of the JMU Libraries website homepage focusing on the Ask the Library link]

    Narrator: or ask for help either in person or by clicking on the Ask-the-Library button.

    End of Information Formats Video Transcript

  • Tool

    Needing And Finding Information

    In this unit, the student will determine when information is needed and find it efficiently using a variety of sources.
     

    Needing Information Video

    This 3 minute and 9 second tutorial is about knowing when you don't know something. This tutorial was created by Kathy Clarke and Michael Mungin.

    Needing Information Video Transcript

    [IMAGE of tools in the Madison Research Essential Toolkit]

    Narrator: Welcome back to the Madison Research Essentials Toolkit.

    [IMAGE of the Information Literacy learning objectives, focusing on the second competency]

    Narrator: In this module we are going to talk about this general education information literacy learning outcome; “Determine when information is needed and find it using a variety of reference sources.“ Since this is really two outcomes smashed together with an AND, we break this module into two tutorials, and in this video we’ll talk about “determine when information is needed.”

    [IMAGE of child with hand raised]

    Narrator: How do you know when you need to find something out? Generally it is because you don’t know off the top of your head. But this outcome is sort of sneaky because it says “information” which could refer to just about anything, when what we are really after is a certain kind of information that is appropriate for use in scholarly work on a university campus.

    [IMAGE of people dressed for a college graduation ceremony; and an IMAGE of child wearing a backpack]

    Narrator: Really what this outcome is about is knowing when you don’t know something. One of the biggest differences between new-to-college students and experienced scholars is this – an experienced scholar knows where her knowledge gaps are and a new-to-college student sometimes doesn’t, or worse, assumes information doesn’t exist. One other big difference is an experienced scholar typically assumes that if they can’t find something, they can ask for help. Please learn to ask for help early in your academic career.

    [IMAGE of student writing on paper and TEXT with details of a class assignment]

    Narrator: Figuring out what information you need can be easy like when you’re asked to write an essay about a reading assigned in a class. The information need is built in, you just have to carefully analyze the assignment. Easy. But in other classes or work it might look like this; “Find a psychological issue that has recently been in the news and find several scholarly sources that discuss the issue. Provide your citations in proper APA form.” This second kind of an information “need” kicks it up a notch.

    [IMAGE of person looking at a computer screen with her head in her hands]

    Narrator: You need to identify your “psychological issue that has recently been in the news” and put your hands on scholarly sources of some kind and then figure out APA citation style for the stuff you do find. You will see lots of assignments that do this with varying degrees of instructions and requirements built in. It is the responsibility of the student to read your assignments carefully and understand fully what kind of information your professor is expecting in any given assignment. Ask if it isn’t clear to you.

    [IMAGE of a professor standing at a chalkboard]

    Narrator: There is one other thing to consider when you encounter an information need. You as a student and as a person come to the university with your own experiences and knowledge about the things you know about. All good. But typically students are not considered experts; this is what makes you a student. There are experts in every discipline and major – your professors are experts in their fields.

    [IMAGES of Rose Library and Carrier Library]

    Narrator: These experts and others like them write and research in their fields and they have been at it for a really long time (that is one reason why libraries are such big buildings, we have to hold all this stuff).

    [IMAGE of a database record for the article “Only children in the United States and China”]

    Narrator: Don’t make the mistake that being an only child makes you an expert in only child-ness. You can certainly use your experience to see if it plays out in the research about only-children. But you need to rely on the research done by the experts.

    [IMAGES of a cat in a bowl and a question mark inside a triangle]

    Narrator: If you look in your classrooms, around the university, and in your libraries you will find these experts and their work. And that is the kind of information you’ll be expected to locate and use.

    [TEXT that reads “Needing and Finding Information”, www.lib.jmu.edu, Ask-the-Library, Madison Research Essentials Toolkit]

    Narrator: Come to the library or use the chat or email Ask features on the library web

    End of Needing Information Video Transcript

    Finding Information Video

    Learn seach strategies, tips, and tricks in this 8 minute and 29 second tutorial created by Kathy Clarke and Michael Mungin.

    Finding Information Video Transcript

    [IMAGE of tools in the Madison Research Essential Toolkit]

    Narrator: Welcome back to the Madison Research Essentials Toolkit.

    [IMAGE of the Information Literacy learning objectives, focusing on the second competency]

    Narrator: In this tutorial we’ll finish the other part of this General Education Learning Outcome, “determine when information is needed and find it using a variety of reference sources.” This time we’ll concentrate on finding information. This part of this learning outcome starts to get into the strategies you can use to find information that is appropriate for university level work.

    [IMAGE of student writing on paper and TEXT with details of a class assignment]

    Narrator: Let’s go back to the topic we touched on in the last tutorial, “find a psychological issue that has recently been in the news and find several scholarly sources that discuss the issue. Provide your citations in proper APA form.”

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage, zoom in to the Research Databases link]

    Narrator: This is sort of broken into steps for you. Let’s look in the news to find some psychological issue. News sources are all over the internet you could search CNN, NPR, MSNBC, or FOX one at time (and they may charge you), or you can jump into a research database that is nothing but news sources. From the library home page, I’m going to choose Research Databases link in the black box.

    [SCREENSHOT of the libraries’ Research Databases webpage]

    Narrator: This leads me to a page, where I have option to choose News Articles.

    [CLICK on News Articles link, SCREENSHOT of news databases highlighting LexisNexis and the Ask the Library for Help contact information]

    Narrator: There are lots of resources on this news page. For my search, I’m going to choose LexisNexis because the description looks like just what I am looking for. This is also a great place to ask for help. Librarians are always ready to make suggestions or give you ideas about where to look for a particular kind of information.

    [SCREENSHOT of LexisNexis homepage]

    Narrator: LexisNexis is a research database that JMU subscribes to (and pays for) to provide high quality news content to our students. This is not a resource you would find free on the Internet.

    [SCREENSHOT zoom in to t focus on the Hot Topics Link]

    Narrator: See that box in the middle, it is front pages of today’s news, and that looks useful. Let’s click on that.

    [IMAGE showing search results]

    Narrator: Here, I find an article from the August 16 Washington Post that suggests that people with Parkinson’s can often be depressed. And conveniently, I didn’t have to think up any search terms, it was just there, and let’s say that interests you.

    [SCREENSHOT of the full-text article]

    Narrator: A quick look at the article tells me that I should probably look at the National Parkinson Foundation website, and that there has been a recent study published in the journal Neurology. But now I’ve also got more focused search terms than just the term “psychological issue” I am now ready to search for information about depression and Parkinson’s. And, I have my news article. Step one done. Remember to hang onto all the sources you’ve used.

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage, zoom in to the Background Information link]

    Narrator: But what if I don’t know much about Parkinson’s? Let’s find some background information.

    [SCREENSHOT of the JMU Libraries’ Background Information webpage]

    Search Strategy – Using Asterisks

    Narrator: I’m going to use a known reliable source, the Encyclopedia Britannica which will give me background information on Parkinson’s. Type P-A-R-K-I-N-S-O-N-* into the search box. But why am I using the asterisk? This is your first search strategy, the asterisk acts like a wildcard in database – with that apostrophe S at the end of Parkinson sometimes showing up and sometimes not, this little symbol will get both. Use the asterisk to retrieve searches that might have alternative word endings. But be careful, if we had placed the asterisk at P-A-R-K-* we would get parking, parks, and parka which are words that won’t help in our search.

    [SCREENSHOT of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry for Parkinson disease]

    Narrator: This entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica helps me see that depression is seen in patients with advanced dementia but the first article I found indicated that it is showing up with the recently diagnosed. News will give you the most recent findings, but encyclopedias are broader and more basic introductions. Use both. And while you are here, I want to you to see that little cite-this-page feature near the bottom of the screen. Many databases provide a draft citation for you in the style you are assigned. We’ll talk more about citations in the last module of the Toolkit. This article was interesting, but I feel like I still need more information.

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage]

    Narrator: This is a big topic, so let’s consider a book. By typing P-A-R-K-I-N-S-O-N-* in the Quick Search box and limiting my search to just books.

    [SCREENSHOT of search results, zoom in on the details of the first book]

    Narrator: This first one looks great. Now how do I find it? Easy, you just need to know three things, location – which library is it in, call number which is like an address for a book, and if it is on the shelf. That’s it. This book is in Rose Library at call number RC382.P242.2004. But where in Rose Library?

    [SCREENSHOT of list of library call numbers by building and floor]

    Narrator: I can see that the books with call number R are located on the fourth floor.

    [SCREENSHOT of book details in the library catalog, zoom in to call number]

    Narrator: If we look at the record for this book in the traditional library catalog, I can show you two other things. See that call number? It’s a link. If you click it, you’ll get a preview of the books next to this one on the shelf. That is a great quick way to see if you can find other sources that are useful nearby.

    [SCREENSHOT of book details in the library catalog, zoom in to subject heading]

    Search Strategy – Subject Headings

    Narrator: Also, that Subject – clicking on it can take me to other sources as well. Sometimes the Subject is your search term, but sometimes it isn’t. A Subject search is always more precise and will limit your results to only sources that are about your terms versus a keyword search which will search anywhere in the record for your term.

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage]

    Narrator: Let’s go back to Quick Search and not limit by books. Here, Quick Search searches many research databases, as well as the libraries catalog of books, and music and movies as well. It doesn’t search everything, but it can usually meet a need like this one. Let’s try it out and this time, let’s add the depression idea.

    Search Strategy – The word “and” to connect keywords

    Narrator: This time again, I’m using the asterisk with both my terms. With D-E-P-R-E-S-S-* I can retrieve depressed or depression as well as other forms of the word. Also notice that I combined my terms with the connector AND. This means that both my terms have to be present in the results.

    [SCREENSHOT of search results]

    Narrator: And we sure did find a lot of stuff. Over 17 thousand articles, books, magazines. It’s a lot but that does give you a really quick idea about how many experts are out in the research world working on this topic. And just look at the first one, pretty specific and technical, right? Are you going to look at all 17 thousand of these? No, that would be ridiculous and you don’t have the time.

    [SCREENSHOT of the full-text article]

    Narrator: Remember the news article? It suggested that levels of dopamine were affected and that sometimes patients needed anti-depressants. If we added either of those two words to our search the number of results would get smaller quickly. Adding search terms with AND will always narrow your results sets down. You use the AND operator to connect unique concepts together. But we can try to get it down even more.

    [SCREENSHOT of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry for Parkinson disease]

    Narrator: And remember that Encyclopedia article? It said men are slightly more affected than women. Let’s see if adding those kinds of terms will help make this big set of QuickSearch results more manageable.

    [SCREENSHOT of search results adding dopamine AND (men OR male OR men)]

    Search Strategy – The word “or” to connect keywords

    Narrator: Adding search terms with AND will always narrow your results sets down – remember you use the AND operator to connect unique concepts together. You use the term OR when you are connecting synonyms or related terms. Usually this is done when the original search did not find enough results. We saw that men are slightly more affected by Parkinson’s than women. Ok, so let’s see if we can make this even smaller – by connecting it to just males. But there are a couple of ways to say male, right? Men or man or male are all synonyms. Connect those terms together with connector OR. You are ANDING the concept of male to your search by connecting all the possible word choices with OR. We managed to get down a less intimidating number of results, but still probably too many to review.

    [SCREENSHOT of search results limited by date]

    Search Strategy – Limit by Date

    Narrator: If I take this same set of results but limit these to just ones in the last three years, I’m quickly down to a much more manageable set of results. Typically you use date when you are working with topics where the latest results are the most important – breaking technological or science topics, medicine and things like that are examples of this. You might also consider a date important if you are doing historical research, like what were the implications of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” when it was given. But sometimes date doesn’t matter. It just depends on what you are doing.

    [IMAGE of student writing on paper and TEXT with details of a class assignment]

    Narrator: See how easy it is to find sources once you start looking? Your libraries are full of materials that will support your work and that you already pay for. Librarians work with the faculty to supplement the resources we need and want students to use. Use them.

    [TEXT that reads “Needing and Finding Information”, www.lib.jmu.edu, Ask-the-Library, Madison Research Essentials Toolkit]

    Narrator: Looking for sources is what your librarians are here to help you do. Look for help by coming to the libraries or using the chat or email Ask features on the library web page.

    End of Finding Information Video Transcript

  • Tool

    Evaluating Information

    In this unit, the student will evaluate the quality of information.
     

    Evaluating Information Video

    Evaluate sources by reviewing the author(s), the accuracy of information, and the relevancy of the information in this 5 minute and 14 second tutorial created by Jonathan Paulo.

    Evaluating Information Video Transcript

    [IMAGE showing a wall of television screens each on a different channel]

    Narrator: OK so let’s take a look at evaluating information. This is an incredibly important step because these days it’s pretty easy to find information. There’s a lot of stuff out there. Anybody can find something. I mean really evaluating information is something that happens very early on.

    [IMAGE of three girls on a playground. One girl says “OMG, did you hear about recess today?” A second girl says, “Your boyfriend kissed some girl!”]

    Narrator: Gossiping starts in elementary school. But when you’re in school, gossip happens, and the first thing you might say to someone is “Who said that?” or “Where did you hear that?” So we’re constantly evaluating information and hopefully checking the source of that information. So here’s another example real quick.

    [VIDEO CLIP from the television show Modern Family]

    Brother: You know more people have died hiking than in the entire Civil War?

    Sister: OK, what book did you read that in?

    Brother: Book? Wake up and smell the Internet grandma.

    [IMAGE showing a wall of television screens each on a different channel]

    Narrator: So the idea is where did you get that information.

    [IMAGE of text. Authority is author, publisher, peer-reviewed]

    Narrator: So the first thing we’ll look at is authority.

    [IMAGE of search result list in the library database.]

    Narrator: So in this case let’s just look at this article. And then often times when you go into the article, they’ll provide those credentials or at least give a little bit more information about the authors.

    [IMAGE of single article record showing authors. Then IMAGE of the full-text article showing authors.]

    Narrator: If their expertise is about technology, if it’s education, then you know in this case if you’re researching the use of technology in classrooms, you know that these authors are an authority.

    [IMAGE of website titled Teacher Tips/Training, How to Use Technology in the Classroom]

    Narrator: But that becomes a big important element for websites. Often you’ll find websites that don’t have any author information at all. In this case, we do have a link to find more about who wrote this article about classroom technology in education.

    [IMAGE of author’s webpage showing background and experience which includes publications about weight loss, swine flu, and working from home]

    Narrator: And you can see that this is a contributing write for websites. So this is more of a journalist. I don’t mean to discount this person.

    [IMAGE of the full-text article showing authors from the library database]

    Narrator: But it’s probably not the expert that you’re looking for compared to these experts in the field, that all they do is study teach research technology in education.

    [IMAGE of text. Authority is author, publisher, peer-reviewed]

    Narrator: So we’ll look at one other idea and that is the publisher. So not only who wrote it but who’s the publisher that actually published this information. Are they always writing and publishing information related to your topic? If they are, then yes, that’s a really quality publisher. And then lastly, is the idea of the peer-review process.

    [IMAGE of search result list in the library database. ZOOM in to show the box to limit to peer-reviewed journals.]

    Narrator: A lot of databases, when you search in them, give you that opportunity to simply limit it to peer-reviewed journals.

    [IMAGE of sign that reads “Experts Only”]

    Narrator: Because if it’s peer-reviewed, it basically means that article was submitted to a publisher and there are actually peers, people who are experts in that field, that said, yes, we want to publish this. This person knows what they’re talking about.

    [IMAGE showing a wall of television screens each on a different channel]

    Narrator: OK so we can probably move through the rest of this pretty quickly now. Because I think that intro really gives you the idea.

    [IMAGE of text. Accuracy is Date, Works Cited, and Research Methods]

    Narrator: So the next would be Accuracy, and there’s a few methods for that which are looking at the date, the works cited, and the research methods. Now the date depends on your topic.

    [IMAGE of search result list in the library database. ZOOM in to show the details of the article entitled “The Technological World View and the Responsible use of Computers in the Classroom”]

    Narrator: So for example, classroom technology. If we come across this article from July of 1985 on the responsible use of computers in the classroom (unless you’re doing some sort of historical research), this isn’t going to give you new ideas about using technology in the classroom. So the date of this one makes it kind of inaccurate.

    [IMAGE of search result in the library catalog. Shows details for the book “Understanding Children: behavior, motives, and thought”.]

    Narrator: In other cases, it’s not going to matter, if you’re looking at something like child psychology and theories that have been around a very long time. This book from 1971 is still going to be valuable information. So the date sort of depends on the topic but it’s obviously something you need to look at to determine it’s accuracy.

    [IMAGE of text. Accuracy is Date, Works Cited, and Research Methods]

    Narrator: The next element of accuracy is works cited.

    [IMAGE of full-text article. Scroll through the article to the end and the Reference list.]

    Narrator: So for example, a research article that’s actually trying to provide evidence. When you scroll down to the end and as you’re reading it you’re going to come across all those references. But you can see that those references are here, and there’s actually been a list of works cited or bibliography.

    [IMAGE of full-text article. Scroll through the article to the Methods section of the text.]

    Narrator: And the third element is that of research methods. This is going to be very apparent and obvious in a research article. Such as this article here, you can actually see the research methods are listed. You’ll have that methods section in any sort of traditional research paper.

    [IMAGE of text. Relevancy is Appropriate Level, Bias, and Currency]

    Narrator: And lastly is looking at Relevancy.

    [IMAGE of details of an article in the Quick Search database]

    Narrator: Let’s go back to a global warming search. Here’s an article on “Eocene global warming events driven by ventilation of oceanic dissolved organic carbon”. If you want to see the Abstract for a little bit more of a summary, there’s a lot of words I don’t know here. So if I’m just doing a general search on global warming, this is probably not the appropriate level.

    [IMAGE of text. Relevancy is Appropriate Level, Bias, and Currency]

    Narrator: And you also want to keep in mind bias.

    [IMAGE of websites. First NARAL Pro-Choice America, then National Right to Life, then Minnesotans for Global Warming, then Skeptical Science, then Fox News.]

    Narrator: Keep in mind that someone’s representing a certain point of view or perspective. They might be a little bit biased to shed light on that perspective. So keep bias in mind. It’s not good or bad. You just need to know it exists. And whatever sort of information’s being provided, keep in mind who’s saying this, do they have an agenda?

    [IMAGE of text. Relevancy is Appropriate Level, Bias, and Currency]

    Narrator: And then the last item is currency which just means the date. Is it current or not? And again as we mentioned before, that really depends on your topic.

    [IMAGE of text. Authority, Accuracy, and Relevancy]

    Narrator: So I hope this helps you think about evaluating information. It’s really something that we all should do much more often. I mean if you think about the news, and you’ve got two people from extreme points of view yelling at each other, well you really have to ask yourself questions about that. And evaluate the information that you’re hearing. So these are really good questions to ask yourself, and it’s going to help you use very sound, quality, relevant information. So when you have your own thoughts and your own ideas you can back it up and have a really strong set of information to back up what it is that you’re saying.

    End of Evaluating Information Video Transcript

  • Tool

    Using Information

    In this unit, the student will use information effectively for a purpose.
     

    Using Information Video

    This 2 minute and 53 second tutorial was created by Kathy Clarke and sets the expectation for incorporating research into your work.

    Using Information Video Transcript

    [IMAGE of tools in the Madison Research Essential Toolkit]

    Narrator: Welcome back to the Madison Research Essentials Toolkit.

    [IMAGE of the Information Literacy learning objectives, focusing on the fourth competency]


    Narrator: In this tutorial we are going to work on this General Education, Information Literacy learning outcome: “Use information effectively for a purpose.”

    [IMAGE of a hand pulling a book off the shelf]

    Narrator: So you’ve been to the libraries either online or in person. You’ve found stuff. Now what?

    [IMAGE of students studying on the lawn]

    Narrator: Now it is time for you to use what you’ve found in your own work. How do you do that? I guess it depends.

    [IMAGES of the Dalai Lama and search results from the JMU Libraries’ catalog]

    Narrator: Think about it this way. Unless you happen to know the Dalai Lama, you probably aren’t going to get to have a conversation with him. But you can use his words and work as if you knew him by using library material to substitute for getting to hang out with him.

    [TEXT Working with Sources, Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing]

    Narrator: Typically when you “use” a source in your own work, you are either quoting it directly, paraphrasing it, or summarizing it. How should you decide which method to use?

    [TEXT from the slide titled Quoting: 1. Use the author’s exact words 2. Do this when you can’t say it any better 3. Do this when the meaning of the words will be lost in paraphrase 4. A typical university-level paper should have no more than 10-20% quoted material 5. Watch for out of context quotations]

    Quoting

    Narrator: We quote important things, like the Constitution or religious texts, or important authors, like Shakespeare. You wouldn’t rewrite a line from As You Like It - you would quote it. But you need to be careful not to over-rely on quotations to fill up your paper. Your professor has asked you to do the work, so your work needs to show up in your papers. Make your work the star of the show and not just a guest.

    [TEXT from the slide titled Paraphrasing: 1. Using the author’s concept but stating in your own words 2. Practice “say back” to the thing you want to quote 3. Make the thing make sense to you via careful note-taking]

    [IMAGE of person’s mouth showing audio waves going into a person’s ear]

    Paraphrasing

    Narrator: Paraphrasing can give people trouble. There isn’t a formula, like changing every 7th word to make a quote your own. When you paraphrase another’s work, try thinking about what you would say to the author to make her understand that you understand what she’s said. You can actually do that out loud or you can do it with note taking. In either case, talking back to a source will help you clarify what you understand the source to mean, but in your own words.

    [TEXT from the slide titled Paraphrasing Signals • Experts say that ________ • X found in his study that _________ • Others results have varied ________ • A 1998 study found _______ but more recent studies have concluded ______ In each case, I would be expecting a citation nearby.]

    Narrator: These kind of signals help your audience understand that someone else is about to show up.

    [TEXT from the slide titled Summarizing • Distilling a larger piece into a main idea • Helps you pull together only the pieces of the research work that you need • Is selective • Be careful not to use it to misrepresent the whole work • Believing game (Elbow, 1998)]

    Summarizing

    Narrator: If you are using a large source you clearly can’t quote a whole book in your work. But you can certainly use only the pieces you need, but be careful not to mis-use or mis-characterize an author’s meaning to make your own point. Peter Elbow’s believing game is a good way to think about summary. You pretend that whatever the author has written is something you whole-heartedly believe in as if you had written it yourself. Then you can certainly summarize it down.

    [IMAGE of a tank]

    Narrator: But your sources shouldn’t fall out of thin air or assault your reader or audience. They need to fit and they need to make sense. Don’t run over your audience with your sources, use them to inform your voice in a scholarly conversation.

    [IMAGE of an inbox piled high with paper and an outbox with only a few pieces of paper]

    Narrator: The enemy of good work is procrastination. When you put your work off, you are making a choice that might result in shortcuts later on. Don’t fall victim to the myth, “that you work best under pressure.” Mistakes, big ones, like plagiarism, can occur when students take shortcuts. Expect to write multiple drafts of your paper or practice your presentation before to get it just where you want it to be.

    [SCREENSHOT of the JMU Learning Centers website homepage]

    Narrator: Tutors at the writing and communication centers can help with this kind of work. You can find them on the first floor of the Student Success Center.

    [IMAGES of types of information: books piled in a stack, magazines, newspapers, and video screens]

    Citation Styles

    Narrator: No matter what kind of information you are using or how, you need to cite all of your sources to give the author credit for their work in your work. Citation can trip students up.

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage, highlight the Cite Your Sources link]

    Narrator: The Cite your sources link on the libraries website has a variety of ways for you to get assistance with the sources that you’ve used.

    [SCREENSHOT of JMU Libraries website homepage, highlight the Ask the Library link]

    Narrator: Or you can always ask for help by clicking on the Ask-The-Library button on the libraries’ homepage.

    End of Using Information Video Transcript

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