Evaluation - Information Need

We often hear about evaluating for information quality; however, it is also important to evaluate for information need. Many searchers make the mistake of not using a general source to gain background information before they start searching. Encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, are good for this type of information. From there, searchers use some of the questions below to decide what they really need. Students do not automatically ask themselves these questions and sometimes they struggle to find information because they really don't know what they need.

  • Checklist of questions from Chapter 7 of the Basic Library Research Handbook by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library - scroll down to "Identifying your Information Need"
  • Evaluating Information from University of Toledo Libraries - Look under the heading, "Before you start searching, define your information need"

Activity: Using your list of topics from class or a topic from this insanely long Facts on File Issues and Controversies list, answer the questions from one of the checklists above. Are there any questions you thought were difficult to answer? Which ones will you share with your students as they embark on their research expedition?