Library Blog

Reliable Resources and Information Literacy

Don’t be intimidated about research strategies!

If you feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at you from social media, the news, and your friends and family, you are not alone. It’s been increasingly hard to distinguish what a legitimate news resource is and what information is verified and reliable.

I used to teach college level research and information literacy classes and came across so many students who had no idea where to start. When researching a topic, it’s best to define what question you are looking to answer, discover resources in various forms (online, academic journals, published works), evaluate those resources, revise and then repeat from the beginning. Of course, it’s much easier to understand your research question in a comprehensive way once it has been through the information cycle. This is the cycle that shows how information travels from a live event or situation, to social media within minutes, televised news within hours, newspapers a day later, magazines within weeks, academic journals within months, and published books after a year. The Information Cycle.

Current events and hot topics are harder to navigate, as you don’t have the ability to cross reference multiple peer-reviewed scholarly journals. The internet is where most people turn to get their information and you may already be at a disadvantage when you do a google search or look on Facebook. Information you find online is not unbiased and is based on your location, what you have researched in the past, who your friends are, and even what your hobbies are. Google, will provide links to ads, or websites that have paid to be promoted, at the top of your search results. Likewise, the news you see on Facebook is tailored to you. The algorithms Facebook uses makes seeing an opposing viewpoint unlikely. Eli Pariser’s Ted Talk

How can you break through the “filter bubble” of search engines and social media? Use the private mode on your browser. This will allow you to search and research without google creating a tailored result page for you. Look at multiple resources. Is there a consensus about the information and are these reputable news outlets? Credible news outlets quote reputable people who are leaders in their field to support claims.

Remember to use the online resources provided by PLYMC. If you have any questions or are stuck, email our reference librarians reference@libraryvisit.org or call at 330-259-3399.


Carla White: Born in the Mahoning Valley and lived in Washington D.C & Pittsburgh. I love learning new skills and cultivating hobbies. I’m usually sitting in front of a computer, which is my favorite place to be. I love teaching coding, 3d design and getting people of all ages to enjoy technology. You can see me at the Austintown and Michael Kusalaba libraries.