Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Information Literacy Resources

Guide for faculty

Outcome 1.4.2

2. Produce a research log that clearly demonstrates the application of appropriate keyword search criteria, such as Boolean operators, source types, and filters;


If the Research Plan is a future-looking document, the Research Log is in the present. The log is for students to show the work they did while searching for information resources. Where did they go? What search terms did they use? What results did they find? It serves two main purposes:

1) Illustrates a workflow that instructors can assess and give feedback on.

2) Establishes the habit of documenting research methods. This is very helpful when researchers put down and pick up the work over a period of time, or when asking for assistance in the process. 


Keywords

Scholarly databases use keywords when searching- this is different from the phrase searching that Google uses. Keyword searching should only use the most important ideas for the information need.

For the Research Question What are some of the most effective ways of protecting local groundwater from the wastewater produced by fracking?, students may be tempted to type a phrase, like they would when using Google: 

How to keep fracking wastewater from polluting the groundwater?

 A more targeted search in a scholarly database would use keywords such as:

  • groundwater
  • wastewater
  • fracking

A more advanced form of using keywords is subject headings. These are agreed-upon words and phrases an institution or database uses to assign topics to information resources. The most widely-known subject headings are used at the Library of Congress, but databases may have their own form of controlled vocabulary. Most databases will have the option to search subject headings for this vocabulary.

  • Library of Congress: Hydraulic fracking
  • Academic Search Premier: Fracking wastewater disposal

Refining Results

Boolean Operators: The most common way to refine a search into more narrow or broader terms is to use the Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT to combine additional keywords- even if those words are not part of the research question.

Truncation and Wildcards can also be used, depending on the database. These help find related words with slightly different endings or spellings, for example, frack* will find results with frack, fracking, fracks, fracked, etc. 

  • groundwater OR aquifer
  • wastewater OR pollution
  • frack* OR "oil extraction"
  • (groundwater OR aquifer) AND "fracking wastewater disposal" 

Filters

Search results can be refined by applying filters. These vary between catalogs and databases, but common filter options include:

  • resource type (book, article, case study, review, media, etc)
  • peer-reviewed or scholarly sources
  • publication year
  • subject 
  • publisher
  • language
  • qualitative or quantitative
  • audience

Example Research Log Rubric from UNIV 301

 

 

 

Not Proficient Developing Proficiency Proficient Exceeding Proficiency

Produce a research log that clearly demonstrates the application of appropriate keyword search criteria, such as Boolean operators, source types, and filters.

Includes keyword search criteria that are appropriate to the information need, including 0-1 of the following:

A) Using keywords

B) Refining search results by narrowing and broadening search terms

C) Refining search results by applying filters

Includes keyword search criteria that are appropriate to the information need, including at least 2 of the following:

A) Using keywords

B) Refining search results by narrowing and broadening search terms

C) Refining search results by applying filters

Includes keyword search criteria that are appropriate to the information need, including all of the following:

A) Using keywords appropriate to both the information need and the finding tool

B) Refining search results by narrowing and broadening search terms by appropriately using Boolean Operators (i.e. AND, OR, and NOT)

C) Refining search results by applying filters appropriate to both the information need and the finding tool, (e.g. resource type, peer-reviewed sources, or publication year).

Shows a deeper understanding of the application of search criteria for the information need, including, but not limited to:

A) Going beyond keyword searching (e.g. applying natural language searching when appropriate, using controlled vocabulary and subject headings)

B) Going beyond Boolean Operators to narrow or broaden search terms (e.g. using truncation, wildcards, and nested search statements)

C) Further refining search results by applying filters appropriate to both the information need and the finding tool, (e.g. topic/subject, publisher, language, or author)

If inspired by this rubric, please acknowledge the work done by Forsyth Library for the UNIV 301 Information Literacy course in your documentation. 

Example Research Log Assignment from UNIV 301

In UNIV 301 Information Literacy, as students learn different strategies for searching for information, they add the results of three different search assignments to their research log. The work is reviewed and graded at each stage to allow instructor feedback and revision. The entire log is later turned in as a whole for FHSU CORE assessment. 

Possible research log assessment options:

  • Chart template
  • Excel or Google Sheets template
  • Written reflection
  • Screenshot images
  • Video demonstration
  • Live demonstration

undefined

If inspired by these assignments, please acknowledge the work done by Forsyth Library for the UNIV 301 Information Literacy course in your documentation.

Teaching Resources for Research Log and Searching