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]


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]


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)]


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