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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.

Frame Description

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.

The varied nature of information sources in politics, policy studies, international relations and related disciplines requires researchers to learn varied search strategies and navigate multiple information platforms including databases, open web sources, data indexes, and governmental websites. Researchers need to be proficient in critically reading information sources to identify the types of sources available, how they can be used to further the scholarly conversation, and then locate cited information for further research. Search strategies might include concept mapping, snowballing, utilizing synonyms, keeping a research journal, identifying organizations that contribute information, and learning where various information sources are stored.

Researchers sometimes struggle to differentiate sources by quality and type in an online environment. Information from credible and reliable sources shares online and intellectual space with misinformation and disinformation and can be challenging to identify and distinguish. Learning to map the information lifecycle provides insight into the value of news sources, government hearings, journal articles, datasets, and social media in contributing to the creation and dissemination of information.

Engaging with challenging problems requires moving beyond simple search strategies. To be successful, researchers must display persistence and flexibility in their searching which might require them to revisit their research questions due to a lack of reliable information, or generate their own datasets.

Evidence of Frame in Action

  • A researcher critically reads a government report to identify people, organizations, concepts and statistics that may be used as search criteria to find additional information.
  • A researcher reads a newspaper article and identifies an included data source that could contribute to their research. They seek out this data source that provides the quantitative element that was missing in their research.
  • A researcher identifies and finds a journal article, a hearing proceeding, and a dataset created by an influential researcher. Locating these pieces of information may require different search strategies, including alternative keywords and search platforms, to be successful.

Sample Learning Goals

  1. Articulate the differences between source types within PPIRS disciplines (e.g. scholarly books, articles, gray literature, social media) and determine which is appropriate for their information needs. (KP1, D3)

  2. Identify the most useful literature for their information need, going beyond the most easily located literature. (D2, D6)
  3. Using specialized search strategies, locate and navigate sources relevant to PPIRS disciplines such as government information (domestic and international), news sources, and datasets. (KP4, KP7) 
  4. Articulate how legal information is organized and disseminated and seek legal sources as needed. (KP6)
  5. Seek assistance from a librarian with knowledge of relevant disciplines to determine or refine search strategies. (D4)