Information Literacy from the Trenches: How Do Humanities and Social Science Majors Conduct Academic Research?

Alison J. Head


This article examines the ways in which students majoring in humanities and social sciences conceptualize and operationalize course-related research. Findings are presented from an information-seeking behavior study with data collected from student discussion groups, a student survey, and a content analysis of professors' research assignment handouts. Results indicate that students first use course readings and library resources for academic research and then rely on public Internet sites later in their research process. Students adopt a hybrid approach to course-related research. A majority of students in this study leveraged both human and computer-mediated resources to compensate for their lack of information literacy. In particular, students faced problems with determining information needs for assignments, selecting and critically evaluating resources, and gauging professors' expectations for quality research.

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