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INF111 Research Skills Guide: Identify

Identifying what you need

Before you start each piece of assessment, it's important to identify exactly what you need to do. 

If you are confused or unsure about the assessment topic, check the Subject Outline, ask your lecturer, or post a question on the discussion boards in your Subject Site. 

Most of your assessment in this subject requires you to find different types of resources and critically evaluate them. The Find section of this guide will help you to search for items, and the Evaluate section will give you some ideas when you begin to evaluate. 

Historical summary

To successfully complete this assessment, you need to:

  • Identify a historical information organisation, established pre-1900, or select a specific type of information agency
  • Locate a scholarly journal article about the history of your organisation/type of organisation. The article can be about this history as a whole, or an aspect of that history. If researching a specific agency, the article can relate to a collection or a specific service.
  • Locate a reputable website and an online reference item about the society in which the information organisation existed.
  • Locate a book or eBook that contains some information about your chosen agency or type of organisation including historical information.

Make sure you read the information in the Subject Outline about this assessment task carefully. Contact your lecturer or post on the discussion forums if you don't understand something.

Tips for finding a scholarly journal article about the history of an agency or type of information organisation

  • Not every organisation or type of organisation has been written about in an academic context. It's a good idea to start with this search first, and be flexible about what you're expecting. Develop a list of options, then see what you can find in Primo or Google Scholar.
  • If you're choosing a pre-1900s agency, be aware that larger, more well-known or famous institutions are more likely to be the subject of scholarly research. If it doesn't have a Wikipedia page, it might not have attracted any researchers.
  • Don't limit your search to Library & Information Studies journals. History or Arts journals may also have articles about information organisations, although they may have less commentary on the information-specific aspects of the institution.

See the Use Reference Resources page for online reference items.

Annotated bibliography and draft introduction

Make sure you read the instructions in the Subject Outline about this assessment task carefully. You will also need to read the task for Assessment three, as you will be selecting useful resources for that task.

The first step will be to review the list of technology trends you can explore for the discussion paper and select one that interests you, and also select which type of agency you're interested in exploring e.g. library, archive, gallery, museum.

It's a good idea to look up all of the trends, especially any that you aren't familiar with, and look at some background information to find out which one is the most interesting. Looking for background information on the key concepts involved in your assessment task, especially if you're not familiar with all the phrases and terminology involved, can also help you make sure you understand the basics before getting into in-depth research. This might seem like doing more work, but it actually provides you with important context that can make the rest of your research project more efficient.

Annotated bibliographies

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to demonstrate that you've evaluated a resource, and explain why you're using it in your assessment. You can discuss the content of the resource, the intended audience, the credentials of the author/s, etc.

It might help to refer to the Evaluate Information criteria on the Evaluate page - Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose - for some questions that you can apply to your items, which might then help you to write your annotations.

This resource from UNSW about annotated bibliographies contains additional information, as well as a useful sample annotation that could provide a template. 

Technology trends discussion paper

Before you start your research for your discussion paper, make sure you've done the  background research on your technology trend and your chosen type of agency. You could expand on the research you already did for the Annotated Bibliography by looking for specific projects and ways your type of agency has integrated the technology into their services. This information can often be found on the web, and it can give you an idea of the types of projects to look for in scholarly journals. 

There are a number of places to find background information:

  • Reference resources like encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Reliable websites (from informed or authoritative sources; see the Using Internet Resources page for tips on evaluating websites)
  • Some types of news articles, including reviews, feature articles and explainers.

While you shouldn't use Wikipedia as a source in an academic paper, it can be a fairly reliable source for background information. Citations in Wikipedia articles can sometimes lead you to other good sources, especially on contemporary topics. 

Then, use the information on the Topic Analysis page to start developing your keywords and search strategies.

Evaluate information

Use this simple test to check if your resources are appropriate and relevant for use in your assessments.

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