Information Literacy Framework

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
    Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
  • Information Creation as a Process
    Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
  • Information Has Value
    Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
  • Research as Inquiry
    Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
  • Scholarship as Conversation
    Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration
    Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

Learning Objectives

  • Guides are helpful for users, but they're there to instruct—not to do their research for them.
  • You should have learning objectives for every guide, whether implicit or expressly made clear to the user.
  • With these in mind, they will naturally inform the construction of your guide (even if you're not thoroughly mapping out backward design); consequentially making it more effective and efficient.
  • Remember learning objectives aren't what you're going to do—they're what your users should be able to do and know after your guide.
    • Problematic: I'm going to list recommended resources and try to make getting sources as easy as possible for the students in this class.
    • Preferred: Students will be able to develop and execute an effective research strategy.


Guides are context specific. Who is the likely audience for your guide? Does your guide speak to the needs of that audience?

  • Course guides: Target audience are students enrolled in the course. What will these students learn to help them complete a research assignment or other course-specific objective?
  • Subject guides: Target audience are likely students taking any course in the discipline, both majors and non-majors. What will these students learn about conducting research in the discipline that will help them now and possibly in future courses?
  • Research guides: Target audience are students needing an academic skill. Will visitors to your guide leave knowing what to do (e.g., format a citation, organize a literature review, etc.)?
  • Library Help/Policy guides: Target audience might be all library users (students, faculty, staff, and visitors) who need general help or to become familiar with library policies, but you might also have guides that are specifically to help faculty with library resources and assistance that can be provided to them.

Note: Paul and Hao would like guides created by librarians to be designated as research guides on the backend regardless so that they are searchable via the guides tab of the discovery tool on the library homepage.

Organizing & Describing Resources

  • Remember that the majority of users view and utilize information at the top (so make content at the top the most important, salient, and/or useful).
  • Avoid long lists of resources. Break them up into small lists with a clear organizational logic.
    • Several short lists organized by content type are better than one long list.
  • Keep database and link descriptions brief. If you want to include more detailed instructions for how to use a resource effectively, consider using additional content along with the basic description.
    • While database assets are centrally managed, you should consider customizing database descriptions to one that speaks to your audience about how and/or why they should use said resource.

Active Learning

Research guides are a form of asynchronous instruction. While we can use guides during our synchronous, face-to-face instruction sessions, a well-constructed guide also allows students to learn at their own pace, when and where they are ready to learn.

Just like synchronous, face-to-face instruction, asynchronous instruction can also include active learning strategies. The following are just a few ideas for integrating active learning into your guides.

  • Does your guide include open-ended questions that may guide students' thinking or stimulate reflection?
  • Does your guide model a research behavior and then encourage students to test their skills?
  • Does your guide have navigational elements that create a narrative about the research process, guiding students through their own thinking and practice?
  • Is content provided in "chunks" or modules that allow students to determine their point of entry and repeat learning tasks as needed?
  • Does your guide include interactive components?

There is no single, correct way to promote active learning in your research guides. Be creative. Experiment. Seek feedback.