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What is Information Literacy: Searching as Exploration

Searching as Exploration

Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

"Searching as Strategic Exploration" Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Association of College & Research Libraries, 2016.

What is Creative Exploration?


  • How do I translate my creative NEEDS into scholarly ones?
  • How do I  IDENTIFY information systems, such as communities of scholars, organizations, governments, and industries?
  • How do I move from DIVERGENT creative systems (such as brainstorming or mind-mapping) to CONVERGENT ones for selecting the best source?
  • How do I translate information needs to search STRATEGIES, using APPROPRIATE search tools?
  • How can I DESIGN and REFINE research needs and strategies based on my search results?
  • How do I understand how information systems are ORGANIZED?
  • How can I FIND information within these organizational systems?
  • What TYPES of research languages (e.g., controlled vocabulary, keywords, natural language) do I need to find appropriate information?


What is Creative Exploration?


  • Identify what topic/s you would like to research and list keywords and synonyms to use in your search
  • Visit the library and speak with a librarian about your research needs, or browse the library website to familiarize yourself with resources and search tools
  • Consult library search guides created for your research area: Art, Design, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and more
  • Browse and be open to serendipitous discoveries
  • Ask your instructors, classmates, and colleagues where they search for inspiration and information
  • Do not give up! If you initially do not find what you are looking for, get creative and change your strategy -- broaden or narrow your search, try new search terms, search a different database, consult bibliographies
  • Acknowledge that your research is unique and that there may not be a lot of scholarly research in that area. That is ok! Connect your ideas with related research and information by broadening your search