Skip to main content

Faculty Library Resources: Research Instruction

Information Fluency Objectives for Upper Level Courses

Having acquired basic information fluency skills in their FYW, students will...

  • know how to search the major discipline-specific databases for their area of research.
  • be familiar with many of the subject encyclopedias and other subject-specific reference materials in their area of research, including statistical sources.
  • follow effective research paths, particularly the use of subject encyclopedias to narrow and focus their topic and find additional keywords to use in database searches.
  • know how to evaluate potential resources, both print and electronic, and will understand the concept of peer-reviewed, or refereed, journals.  This will include familiarity with limiting features in appropriate databases, availability of reviewing resources for books and other materials, and URL and web page analysis.
  • understand, but not be intimidated by, the immensity of the information environment.
  • see the librarian as their ally in meeting the challenges of research projects in their major course of study and other upper-level classes.

Checklist for Effective Research Assignments

An effective research assignment for First Year Writing Seminars…

  • is broken into small, manageable pieces.
  • develops familiarity with core research resources.
  • is based on questions or problems rather than topic areas.
  • has a clear purpose (doesn’t seem like busy work).
  • is highly relevant to the course.
  • is thesis-governed.
  • can be completed with the library’s available resources (or ILL if there is time).
  • teaches students to evaluate the information they find.
  • requires that students synthesize and integrate the information into their own thoughts and writing (not just a power point or web page).
  • deters students from plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty.
  • makes reasonable demands of students (is not too long or complicated for their level).
  • makes clear to students what is being asked of them (clearly phrased, without undefined scholarly jargon).
  • doesn’t have right and wrong answers (no prescribed responses or pre-set solutions).

Research Instruction at Furman

Library faculty members would love to partner with you to help your students master research skills in the academic environment.  Our goal is to help them move beyond their standard reliance on Wikipedia and Google into fluency in the research process, including an understanding of the nuances of database searches and resource types as well as an ability to evaluate and select the most relevant, reliable information for their coursework.

We do not offer "library tours" or general orientation sessions.  Instead, our research instruction is course-integrated and assignment-specific.  In addition to research instruction sessions for students, we are happy to assist you with designing effective research assignments. We also love meeting with individual students or small groups from your class to discuss their research.

To arrange research instruction for your classes, please contact your library liaison.  The library faculty members who offer research instruction are

First Year Writing Seminars

The information fluency component in Furman's First Year Writing Seminars begins the process of teaching students the research skills they'll need for their time at Furman and beyond.  Each FYW has a library faculty member paired with it.  The Curriculum Review Committee included the following passage in its explanation of the first year seminar requirement in its final report, Invigorating Intellectual Life: A Proposal for Furman University's Academic Program and Calendar:

"A critical part of the writing process, in addition to expressing one’s own ideas clearly and effectively, is locating, evaluating and incorporating information from scholarly sources, as well as giving proper credit to these external sources. With this in mind, each W seminar will include a basic research project and a standard information fluency component. The research component need not be a complicated or long project—just enough for students to get a sense of how the academic literature is structured and to understand the basic types of sources and their uses. A librarian will be paired with each W seminar as an integral part of the course. Librarians will understand the objectives of the course and will assist the classroom professor as she or he plans the research project(s) for the class. The students in each seminar will attend several information fluency instruction sessions during class time. The course librarian will serve as a resource for the students in the course throughout the term. Overall, information fluency instruction will provide students with the foundation of information-seeking skills essential for research work in other courses."

This research instruction takes a combination of forms, including in-class sessions, online tutorials, and individual and group meetings with students.

We look forward to working with you in your FYWs!

Information Fluency Objectives for First Year Writing Seminars

Students will...

  1. work with their professor and their librarian to refine a topic.
  2. understand how to identify important keywords related to their topic.
  3. be able to construct effective searches using database searching techniques, including Boolean Logic, Nesting, Truncation, and Field Searching.
  4. be familiar with the main library web page and the major links available from that page.
  5. know how to locate appropriate databases and other tools for their topic.
  6. know how to search for articles in an academic database.
  7. know how to search for books and other materials in the Furman library catalog, and will be aware of PASCALCat and WorldCat.
  8. know how to locate the full text of books, articles, etc., based on the citation information.
  9. appreciate the distinct characteristics and advantages/disadvantages of various publication types and how information flows through them chronologically. (E.g. books, scholarly journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, blogs, websites, reference books, dissertations, etc.)
  10. understand some of the basic strategies for evaluating resources.
  11. be aware of the existence of Interlibrary Loan and Research Assistance services, branch libraries and Special Collections, and citation tools.
  12. feel comfortable approaching a librarian to ask for help.