Finding and using information

Library for Educators
4 min readOct 10, 2022

R22–0981 RELT10311

Update of R21–0845 from 2021/22

Supporting materials


  • Group: 30
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Room:
  • Discipline: Any, examples can be changed
  • Level: UG (particularly useful during transition)

Learning outcomes

  • Identify an appropriate tool to use for finding information for your specific purpose;
  • Identify and use key databases in your discipline;
  • Identify and use relevant specialist information in your discipline;
  • Develop an awareness of a wide range of information sources available to use in academic work;
  • Develop strategies for assessing the appropriateness of sources to use in your assignments;
  • Discriminate between good-quality academic sources and other sources.

Suggested online resources

Planning ahead: making your search work

Knowing where to look: your search toolkit

Finding the good stuff: evaluating your sources

Know your sources: types of information

Getting results: guides to searching databases

Being critical: thinking, reading and writing critically

Start to finish: essay writing

Session content

The purpose of this session is to introduce first year students to the principles and practices necessary to locate and evaluate sources of information. In response to the academic’s request, this session is structured around the use of the reading list as a springboard to identify further sources of information.

Introduction: The facilitator should explain that this workshop will be a place to learn and practice techniques to find and evaluate sources using the different services and systems the Library has to offer. Reinforce that this session will be useful for preparation for upcoming assignment, but the skills will be relevant throughout students’ time at university. Searching and research are important skills at university — link this to assignment criteria and marking criteria to reinforce why this is important. (4 minutes)

Assignment Task:

Using the library’s online databases, locate one academic article or book chapter that explores Rabbis and Tradition.

Use search engines and other tools on the internet to locate one online resource or website on the subject of Rabbis and Tradition

Analyse the two sources

Direct Instruction (LO1): Facilitator should explain that the best place to start identifying reading for particular modules and assignments is the reading list. However, it is important to go beyond this reading list and engage in your own reading and research to find different resources (link this to the marking criteria). We will discuss different strategies to do this. (2 minutes)

Activity: What (LO4) — Facilitator to highlight that each reading list is made of different types of sources, and that there may even be some source types that are not on the reading list. Facilitator to ask students to read through the reading list and identify the different types of reading materials they can find, as well as other reading materials they would use in preparation for seminars, lectures and assignments. (4 minutes)

Facilitator to list source types recorded by students, ask students in groups to discuss the pros and cons of each source type. Facilitator to follow-up on this discussion to clarify and add any necessary information and advice. Facilitator should also highlight the connections between different types of sources and how students should navigate between them. For example, journal articles are scholars’ opinions of the primary sources — not always facts in themselves.

Direct Instruction (LO1, LO2, LO3): Where — Facilitator to show how to find examples of different source types from the reading list on library search, and how these can be accessed both offline and online.

Facilitator to show other places that students can search for resources: Subject Guide, Google Scholar and Special Collections. Discuss the pros and cons of these and when each may be more useful and/or appropriate. (7 minutes)

Direct Instruction — Going beyond the reading list (LO1, LO2, LO3): Facilitator to discuss that the reading list should act only as the starting point of research, and that it is important to go beyond what is listed to find more reading material. Students should use this as a springboard to find more reading material. To do this effectively, it also important to use this in conjunction with assignment titles and/or seminar/lecture titles.

To do this, creating a list of search terms is important. (3 minutes)

Assignment title — Rabbis and Tradition

Activity — Going beyond the reading list (LO5): Students should use the reading list and assignment title to identify search terms they could use in library search, google scholar etc and write these down on flipchart paper.

Using these terms, students should then list synonyms for the terms they have used. (10 minutes)

Direct Instruction — being critical (LO5, LO6): Facilitator to relate the need to critique sources to ensure they are reliable, objective and relevant. Use the chart on slide to show the different evaluative questions that can be applied to a source to test its reliability, objectivity and relevance. (4 minutes)

Activity — being critical (LO5, LO6): Students to use the evaluative handout to critically analyse a selected source from the reading list. Facilitator should acknowledge that students may not necessarily be able to complete every section in this activity, and that in their own work students would need to do some research on the source itself. This may be particularly true for primary sources. This is necessary for this assignment (10 minutes)

Analyse the two sources. You should make sure that your analysis includes the following elements:

(3) An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the two sources you used

(4) Discussion of the context of the sources. For example: how does the type of journal or website an article is included in impact upon its usefulness? What issues might there be with an online resource? What benefits? For example, for websites you should think about how you can judge whether a particular website is reliable when conducting research for your undergraduate degree.

Activity — transition to writing (LO5, LO6): Students to use the notes they have made using the evaluative handout to write a small passage on the reliability, objectivity and relevance of the source. (This could be followed-up on by Holly’s writing section, students use the advice and information given to then go back and enhance this piece of writing). (7 minutes)



Library for Educators

Sharing resources for educators, from The University of Manchester Library