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Information Literacy: Module 2: Needing Information

Your Information Need

Determining Your Information Need


The minute you're given an assignment, you have an information need.  This may mean that you'll need to use your textbook to answers questions for homework or a discussion board, but it may also mean that you have to write a paper or give a presentation. Your information need will determine what kind of resources you'll use to complete your assignment.

Understanding Your Assignment


It is important to understand your assignment in order to determine what your information need is.  Before you do anything else, you should be able to answer these questions about the assignment:

  • Are you required to use resources other than your textbook? 

  • How many resources do you need to have? 

  • Are you required to use specific types of resources, such as peer-reviewed or academic journal articles? 

  • Which citation style are you required to use?  

Picking a Research Topic

Research Strategies

Research Strategies

Once you've decided on a topic, you need to think about how you're going to look for information about that topic.  Again, this will depend on the requirements of your assignment. 

**Note: If you're supposed to use peer-reviewed/scholarly resources, then you should plan on using the databases at the library (more about this in the next module!).  **

Search strategies are important because they help you to sift through all the information that is available and find specific results.

There is no "right" way to conduct searches online.  The best strategy is to brainstorm the key terms or phrases for your topic and the synonyms for those terms and phrases. 

For example, let's say you're doing a research paper about the effects of violent video games on children. 


First, determine what question you're trying to answer with your research, like this:



Second, determine what the key terms or phrases are from that question.

Third, come up with synonyms (a word or phrase that means the same thing). 

(Hint: A Thesaurus is very helpful for this!)

Then, when you are ready to begin researching, you can use any or all of the synonyms as part of your search string.

Remember to try different combinations of search strings to find information online.  If one doesn't work, then try another.  Just don't give up!  And if you need help?  ASK!



Watch one of the videos below to learn how you can change your search strings to get better, more accurate results.  This can be applied not only to Internet searches, but also searches in the WCCC databases!



Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

What's Next

Warren County Community College
Haytaian & Maier Library
475 Route 57 West
Washington, New Jersey 07882