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