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What is Information Literacy: Authority as Contextual

Authority as Contextual

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.

"Authority Is Constructed and ContextualFramework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Association of College & Research Libraries, 2016.

What is Authority?


  1. What is an author's AUTHORITY?
    • subject expertise (e.g., scholarship)
    • societal position (e.g., public office or title)
    • special experience (e.g., participating in a historic event)
  2. What tools can I use to IDENTIFY authority?
  3. Does the PUBLICATION MEDIUM change an author's authority?
  4. Does the social nature of our information ecosystem mean that an author's authority EVOLVES over time?  

What is Authority?


  1. Use Summon Search, but limit to:
    • Peer-Review
    • OR...
  2. Use subject-specific ejournal databases to search for topics; in either case, you are immediately able to identify an author's AUTHORITY as these information research tools have helped you identify the academic standing of your chosen author, as she/he has published in peer-reviewed journals, but now:
  3. Use Summon to search for specific authors
    • see where they have published (journals, magazines, newspapers, or books)
  4. Identify some of the social, cultural, or scientific themes covered in the author's work and now run a Google search to compare results. How is the topic covered in the open internet?