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Health Sciences Interest Group Resources

ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education

This Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (Framework) grows out of a belief that information literacy as an educational reform movement will realize its potential only through a richer, more complex set of core ideas. During the fifteen years since the publication of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, academic librarians and their partners in higher education associations have developed learning outcomes, tools, and resources that some institutions have deployed to infuse information literacy concepts and skills into their curricula. 

Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

Because this Framework envisions information literacy as extending the arc of learning throughout students’ academic careers and as converging with other academic and social learning goals, an expanded definition of information literacy is offered here to emphasize dynamism, flexibility, individual growth, and community learning:

Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

The Framework is organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy, a set of knowledge practices, and a set of dispositions. The six concepts that anchor the frames are presented alphabetically:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

Source: "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education", American Library Association, February 9, 2015. | Document ID: b910a6c4-6c8a-0d44-7dbc-a5dcbd509e3f

Teaching Tips for Mapping the ACRL Standards

Teaching Tips - Mapping to the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Nursing


Standard One

Composes a PICO(TT) question from a sample topic. 1.1.c  
Identifies MeSH and CINAHL headings in a relevant database and compares search results from searching with subject terms vs. keywords. 1.1.g  
Have a panel of “experts” with different professional perspectives (e.g. MD, FNP, psychologist) visit class and share their knowledge about or experience with the topic. (e.g. children with asthma). 1.2.d  
Discusses the publication cycle including the kind of information found at different stages of the cycle. Evaluates the credibility of each source. Identifies examples of an informal medical website, a formal medical website, a medical blog, and medical databases. 1.3.a  
Defines primary sources of nursing and shows an example of each. 1.3.b  
Defines secondary sources of nursing and shows an example of each. 1.3.c  
Lists of as many professional associations in their field as can be found in a five minute to Google search. 1.3.d  
Visits the library collection, finds and discusses content of nursing manuals, handbooks, etc. relevant to their field 1.3.e  
Creates two lists—one of different research populations and one of research methods. Distinguish which methods are appropriate for each of the listed populations. 1.4.e  
Demonstrates ability to work through the iterative process of background research, databases for foreground research, and refining of PICO(TT) question after class demonstration. 1.5.a, b  

Standard Two

Evaluates medical databases identifying the content, scope, search functionality, etc. 2.1.a, b  
Searches CINAHL and PubMed/Medline to find an example of primary and secondary sources and quantitative and qualitative data on a sample topic. 2.1.d  
Demonstrates effective strategies for addressing a PICO(TT) question, identifying subject databases and search terms for each PICO(TT) element. 2.2.a  
Lists synonyms that could be used for searching a given PICO(TT) question. Compares results of searches using different keywords. 2.2.b  
Demonstrates a keyword search and a subject heading search on a specific topic. Identifies the results of each search and its relevance to the PICO(TT) question. 2.2.c  
Locates search terms in MeSH or CINAHL tree structure and uses database limiters to conduct search. (Restrict to major topic, include terms lower on the hierarchy, subheadings) 2.2.d  
Finds an article on a nursing theory and how it is applied to a specific population. 2.2.g  
Examines the references in an article relevant to the PICO(TT) question and identify additionalarticles that relate to the research question. 2.2.i  
Uses database limiters to locate a variety of material within parameters given in a worksheet. (e.g. a systematic review on a topic that is more than 3 years old, a clinical trial on humans) 2.4.b  
Demonstrates using limiters in PubMed/Medline and CINAHL to narrow search (e.g. publication type, publication factors such as language, population factors, such as age groups). 2.4.a, b  
Appraises search results for relevance to the PICO(TT) question used. Evaluates the best way to search for this particular question. 2.4.e  
Establish an account in NCBI and CINAHL to save searches, set up alerts and save search history. 2.5.c  

Standard Three

Summarizes current evidence regarding major diagnostic and treatment actions within the practice specialty. 3.1.a
Takes the Plagiarism Self Test as homework from Western Carolina University's Writing Center, located online at 3.1.a, b, & d
Summarizes the main ideas of an article addresses a research question, using PICO(TT) format if appropriate. 3.1.b, & c
Evaluates consumer health information sources for accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness. 3.2.a, b, c, e, & f
Evaluates a protocol from work, and analyzes it in class with a worksheet to judge if it is evidence-based, or not. 3.2.a, b, & e
Provides examples of clinical opinions from research, and evidence summaries. Identifies what differentiates them and in what context each would be useful. 3.2.b
Discusses the possible impact of assumptions, prejudice, deception, and manipulation in the research process. Provide examples of cases studies; such as the historic "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male," or research studies funded by pharmaceutical companies. Identifies their own biases as researchers and information consumers. 3.2.c
Identifies an article from a discipline other than medicine or nursing that is relevant to their research question after searching a multidisciplinary database such as Academic Search Complete. 3.2.d
Identifies the context of a current scholarly article and compares it with another source on the same topic from a significantly different historical, social, or cultural context. Discusses the influence of context on the production and interpretation of information in the health professions. 3.2.f
Identifies a popular media article on a health topic and verifies its claims using another source. Describes and critically evaluates the research methods and arguments of both articles. 3.2.g
Creates individualized care plans based on patient values, clinical expertise, and evidence. 3.3.a, & b
Identifies, collects, and mines raw data from researchers in multiple disciplines to apply to nursing practice. 3.3.a, b, c, d, e, f, & g
Integrates knowledge from diverse sources and across disciplines, and then applies this knowledge to solve practice problems and improve health outcomes. 3.3.a, b, c, d, e, f, & g
Translates current evidence into practice, and evaluates the outcomes. 3.3.a, b, c, e, f, & g
Classifies evidence-based practice resource on a given topic, using the “Levels of Evidence Pyramid” (see Reports to class the highest-level or most relevant evidence they found, and to explain how it supports a specific practice.Note: A good online tutorial on evidence based nursing is available at 3.3.e
Questions rationale for routine approaches to care that result in less-than-desired outcomes or adverse events. 3.4.a. b, c, d, f, h, & i
Evaluates personal facility for EBP by taking the Readiness for Evidence-Based Practice Survey, from the article: Provikoff, Tanner & Pierce (2005). CE Credit: Readiness of U.S. nurses for evidence-based practice. AJN, 105 (9): 40-52. 3.4.a, b, c, d, f, g, h, & i
Updates teaching, training, and patient education materials. 3.4.a, c, d, g, h, & i
Updates clinical knowledge including protocols, procedures, care plans, practice guidelines, complementary and alternative medicine, and pharmaceutical approaches. 3.4.a, g, h, & i
Conducts a literature review, systematic review, meta-analysis, or meta-synthesis to determine contradictions or unique characteristics of the research to guide nursing practice. 3.4.c, d, f, g, h, & i
Validates understanding and interpretation of information through discourse with other BSN students, individuals, subject-area experts, and/or practitioners by:
  • Attending or observing ethics rounds, and/or a presentation of an ethics committee member at a hospital.
  • Having a fieldwork experience with the goal of partnering with a team in practice, such as a patient safety initiative interdisciplinary team, an interprofessional education team, or a quality improvement team.
  • Ask and discuss with multiple professionals about professional roles, knowledge translation, role boundaries, and diverse disciplinary perspectives.
3.5.a, b, c, & e
Demonstrates the difference in results found using the same search terms in different databases (for instance, searching the term “neoplasms” in Medline/PubMed and CINAHL). 3.6.e

Standard Four

Presents information in different formats for different audiences/purposes (e.g. care plan, patient instruction, practice guideline, poster, podium presentation, blog post, scholarly article, etc.) 4.1.a, b, c, & d4.3.a, b  
Discusses and provides examples of different research designs for a variety of purposes. 4.1.h  
Writes a research journal or some other record of the processes used over time to find, evaluate and communicate health information. Revisits this record and identifies opportunities for growth and learning. 4.2.a, b, c  
Discusses the concept of translational research and the ways in which it can contribute to patient care over time. Describes ways in which a specific biomedical research finding could be applied to patient care, clinical practice and/or community health. 4.2.d  
Uses a visual representation of the Information Cycle in the health sciences to initiate a discussion of students’ contribution as researchers, practitioners, educators and authors. See and for examples. 4.3.f, g  
Researches a recent health policy in the news and finds evidence that supports a position on that policy. 4.3.h  

Standard Five

Discusses the various models of scientific publishing, including open-access journals. Explores publication and subscription fees for several journal titles. Examines sites such as PubMedCentral, BioMedCentral, PLoS and DOAJ; identifies how such sites fit into the information cycle and publishing practices. 5.1.b  
Uses a checklist to navigate fair use guidelines and determines whether a particular use of copyrighted information is appropriate. The Fair Use Checklist from Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Office ( is excellent, but it would be even better to develop a checklist specifically for the health professions. 5.1.f, 5.2.f  
Highlight the ethical, legal, and financial issues of access to subscription databases and the use of material provided by institutions and organizations outside of the academic setting. 5.2.a  
Uses examples to demonstrate correct citation of references, and practices reading citations from a variety of sources. Discusses the historical development of citation styles and how they demonstrate the values of the discipline they represent. 5.3.a