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Companion Document to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Politics, Policy and International Relations

This guide was developed to accompany the Companion Document to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Politics, Policy and International Relations.

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.

Questions can help formulate search strategies to be used across different discovery tools and information types. By using the research literature to set up a question rather than draw a conclusion, students will be engaging in a form of inquiry that is open to different viewpoints. Helping students engage in complexity will enable them to become more rigorous in their approach to research in the discipline. Additionally, the iterative nature of research in all disciplines requires that questions are revised as often as needed to narrow in on a particular line of inquiry and then build upon current knowledge.

Practitioners in political science, policy studies, international relations, and related disciplines use a variety of social science research methods to examine and propose solutions to current problems. Introducing students to research methods in the discipline helps undergraduates understand and appreciate how they can make contributions to the field..

Evidence of Frame in Action

  • After noticing a conflict between the predictions Karl Marx made in his writings and the historical record, a researcher decides to explore why so many Marxist revolutions of the 20th century occurred in countries that had not yet experienced industrial capitalism.
  • A researcher in comparative politics is intrigued as to whether the perceived superior performance of an authoritarian government in handling a transnational emergency derives from the possibility that authoritarian governments are more efficient, or from their tendency to hide damaging information.
  • Looking at presidential approval polls, a researcher decides to investigate why one polling agency consistently shows higher presidential approval ratings than others.

Sample Learning Goals

  1. Recognize the research process is multi-phased and an iterative process. (KP3, D5)

  2. Use different sources (primary, secondary, etc) at various stages of the research process to gather background information, accumulate evidence, and build an argument. (KP2, KP4)
  3. Be creative and open to inquiry by moving beyond a cursory exploration of information to engage with literature and identify appropriate sources (articles, data, policy, etc) to meet information needs. (KP2, D1, D4-5)
  4. Use literature and other information sources to generate ideas, questions, and conclusions. (KP1, KP7, D5-6)
  5. Identify legal and government information, policy, and data, to understand strengths and weaknesses, and know how to synthesize these information sources for research. (KP4-5, KP7)