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Key Academic & Digital Information Skills Framework

A guide for academic staff

finding information

Understanding what academic information is and how to find it is a fundamental skill needed at university.  Students have not generally developed the necessary level of expertise or knowledge when they come to university, so it is important they receive some guidance.  

  • Identify your information gap – be aware of what you don’t know yet  

  • Recognise the different types of academic information available in your subject area, and understand when and why you might use them 

  • Locate the module’s online reading list, and identify and access the different information sources available  

  • Identify and locate suitable academic resources through the Library website, including:  

    • Basic keyword searching   
    • Simple refining techniques to both broaden searches & reduce the number of documents retrieved  
    • Find an item on the Library shelves & access ebooks 
    • Perform a search on a database where required by the curriculum  
  • Awareness of Inter Library Loan and Scan and Send services  

  • Locate and access the subject’s library guide  

  • Awareness of who your Subject Librarian is, and how to contact the Library for help  

  • Understand how key Academic Study Skills contribute to your skills development for both university and the wider work/personal environment 

  • Go beyond the suggested reading on your module reading list to find information for your assignments  

  • Use your Subject Guide to identify subject specific resources   

  • Understand how to explore and use a wide range of different databases and online sources e.g. legislation, government publications, newspapers, technical reports, standards & patents, company information, marketing reports, audio visual material  

  • Understand and use the different formats of an information source e.g. abstract, full text  

  • Understand that background reading may be required to inform  searches  

  • Develop your search strategy and use a variety of searching techniques:  

    • Describe the subject scope & relevance of a chosen resource  

    • Boolean searching (combining keywords with AND/OR/NOT) 

    • Synonyms & related terms to expand search results 

    • Awareness of differences in spelling and terminology

    • Truncation and phrase searching

  • Use the refining & limiting features in a range of resources to achieve manageable results  

  • Understand that searching techniques may need to be adapted for different databases and sources  

  •  Recognise how skills learnt for academic study can be utilised to find suitable information for post-university life, and in the workplace  

  • Formulate research questions  

  • Break these complex questions down into simple question components for searching  

  • Refine your search strategies and use advanced searching techniques in a range of subject specific resources, including:  

    • Multiple synonyms and combination searches

    • 360 degree searching (searching backwards through source references, and forwards through citing documents)  

  • Identify the different levels of information available (primary, secondary, tertiary)  

  • Identify key journals, authoritative sources, experts and networks in your discipline  

  • Understand the additional sources of information that are available: British Library, JISC Library Hub, Institutional Repository, and SCONUL scheme