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Clothing & Textile Technology: Information Literacy Guide

This is a research guide for CPUT Clothing Management students and staff

Recognize your information need

You'll know that you need information when you:

  • get a project/assignment from a lecturer
  • having a personal need that requires certain information before you can make a decision, e.g. buying a car.

Generally, whenever you are uncertain you could find information that will help you take the correct decision.

Remember that one needs information not just for study purposes, but for most decisions in everyday life. You make decisions every day, whether it is to buy a car, house or do a project or assignment. You need information to make good decisions.

For more information, go to Information Literacy Guide.

Defining Keywords

Once you have read generally about your topic, you should have a better idea of the keywords under which you will probably find information about your topic. So, before you can start your search, you should define your keywords accurately. The following steps will assist you in defining keywords:

1. Draw a mind map
Write down everything you know about your topic as well as what you would like to know!!! Our topic, for illustrative purposes, is "Aids in the workplace".

Identify keywords, concepts and terms on this topic. This will help you to identify areas that need more searching than others.

2. Select broader and narrower subject terms
Is there a broader or narrower subject that might include your topic, question or problem? You must identify as many as possible such broader and narrower terms. They will help you when you do your search. Using different words will retrieve different information, therefore use all possible options when you search for information.

3. Consider othe spellings
Look for other spellings of words during your reading on the topic. Certain words are spelled differently in British English vs. American English, for example:

British English American English
"s" in specialisation "z" in specialization
"ou" in colour "o" in color
"s" in organisation "z" in organization


There are many more of these. If your search terms include any such words, you will need to search on all the different variables to make sure you don't miss any important and relevant information.

Evaluation Resources

How do you evaluate resources?

For many academic research projects, instructors will require that you research many different types of resources.  Often it is difficult to recognize the value of a particular resource.  Below is a list of six criteria for evaluating resources, and questions or topics that you should consider when identifying the best and most appropriate books, articles, and web sites for your research.

Remember that, unlike books and articles which are approved by publishers, web sites can be created by anyone and made available on the World Wide Web freely.

Adapted from University of St. Thomas Library.

 

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Three basic types of resources

Sources of information are considered primary, secondary, or tertiary depending on theiroriginality (did the writer do the original work, or are they commenting on the work of others?) and theirproximity or how close they are to the source (is this a first-hand account, or somewhat after the fact?)

Here is a very general overview of how information is produced.  Note that these distinctions are not rigid; the same resource can overlap categories.

  • Primary - Direct, uninterpreted records of the subject of your research project. Thus, a primary source can be almost anything, depending on the subject and purpose of your research. 
     
  • Secondary - Books, articles, and other writings by scholars and researchers build on primary sources by interpreting, analyzing, and assessing primary information.  Secondary materials often have a persuasive, analytical aim not characteristic of primary material. 
     
  •  Tertiary - Encyclopedias, indexes, textbooks, and other reference sources which present summaries of or introductions to the current state of research on a topic, summarize or condense information from primary and secondary sources, or provide a list of primary and secondary sources of more extensive information. 

Accuracy

Are sources of information and factual data listed, and available for cross-checking?

Books

Articles

Websites

·     Is there a table of contents?

·     Does it include footnotes and a bibliography?

·     Does it include footnotes and a bibliography?

·     Does it include footnotes and a bibliography?

 

Authority

Who is responsible for the work and what are their qualifications and associations, and can you verify them?

Books

Articles

Websites

·     Does it identify the author? Is there biographical information or do you need to look elsewhere? Is the author an expert in the field? Is s/he associated with an organization that does research on this topic?

·     Does it identify the author? Is there biographical information or do you need to look elsewhere? Is the author an expert in the field? Is s/he associated with an organization that does research on this topic?

·     Does it identify the author? Is there biographical information or do you need to look elsewhere? Is the author an expert in the field? Is s/he associated with an organization that does research on this topic? What does the domain name tell you about the location of the web site

·     Who is the publisher? Is it a university press, a commercial publisher, a professional or trade association, the government, or is it self-published?

·     In what type of journal/magazine does the article appear? Is it a scholarly journal, trade journal, or a magazine?

·     .edu = educational institutions 
.com = commercial/ business organizations 
.org = non-profit/ other organizations 
.gov = government agencies 
.net = network resources

 

Objectivity

  • Are biases clearly stated?
  • Are any political/ ideological agenda hidden to disquise its purpose?
  • Do they use a misleading name or other means to do this?

Books

Articles

Websites

·     Who is the intended audience? Is the book for general readers? Students? Researchers?

·     Who is the intended audience?  Is the article in a publication that is written for general readers?  students? researchers?

·     Who is the intended audience? Is the web site written for children? general readers? researchers?

·     Why was the book written?  To inform?  persuade? teach?  entertain?

·     Why was the article written?  To inform?  persuade? teach?  entertain?

·     Why was the web site created?  To inform?  persuade? teach?  entertain? just for fun?

·     Is there a preface or introduction to identify objectives?

·     What are the affiliations of the author?

·     What are the affiliations of the author?

 

 

Currency

How up-to-date is the information?

Books

Articles

Websites

·     What is the copyright date (located on the title page)?

·     What is the date of the article?

·     Are the dates listed?

·     Is the information up-to-date, out-of-date, or does the information never go out-of-date?

·     How current are the sources listed in the bibliography (dates)?

·     When was the web site first created?

·     How current are the sources listed in the bibliography (dates)?

·     When was the last time that the web site was revised?

·     Are the links still viable?  Do any linked sites identified still exist?

 

Coverage

What is the focus of the work?

Books

Articles

Websites

·     Is there a table of contents? an index?

·     What are the affiliations of the author?

·     Are there clear headings to indicate an outline to determine what aspects of the topic are covered?

·     Is the book organized logically and/or in a manner which makes it easy to understand?

·     Is there an abstract? 

·     Is there a Table of Contents? an Index? an Abstract?

·     Are there appendices to supplement the main text?

·     Does the article cover the topic comprehensively, partially, or is it an overview?  Is it primary, secondary, or tertiary information?

·     Is navigation within the web site clear?

·     Does the article cover the topic comprehensively, partially, or is it an overview?  Is it primary, secondary, or tertiary information?

 

Relevancy

Does the resource actually cover the topic you are researching?

Books   

Articles

Websites

·     Does the book support or refute an argument

·     Does the article support or refute an argument?

·     Does the web site support or refute an argument?

·     Does the book give examples?  survey results? research findings? case studies?

·     Does the article give examples?  survey results? research findings? case studies?

·     Does the web site give examples?  survey results? research findings? case studies? link to other useful and recommended sites?

·     Is it really research? or just commentary?

·     Is it really research? or just commentary?

·     Is it really research? or just commentary?

·     Does it cover the topic as well as other types of sources (books, articles, etc.)?


  

 

Search Tips

Boolean Searching
Is based on Boolean Logic, which was developed by George Boole, a mathematician. It works with three operators, i.e.: AND, OR and NOT, that will help you to retrieve precisely the information you are looking for.

Note: Some systems require that you use capital letters for the AND, OR and NOT. Others may require that you enclose them in brackets, e.g. [AND] or <OR>, etc. Check the help pages of the system on which you search for these requirements.

For more information, go to Information Literacy guide.


Truncation

Truncation means to cut off a point or to shorten. When used with keywords, it means to keep the stem of the key words and "cut" everything else away, leaving it out.

By using truncation you will get more search results.

For more information, go to Information Literacy guide.

 

Phrase Searching
Phrase searching is when you use a string of words (instead of a single word) to search with. Look at the following example:

You might be looking for information on teenage abortions. Each one of these words has a different meaning when standing alone and will retrieve many irrelevant documents, but when you put them together the meaning changes to the very precise concept of "teenage abortions". For the database to understand your search, you should put your phrase between brackets ( ) or inverted commas ". Type your search as follows:

"teenage abortions"
or

(teenage abortions)

  • Some databases will use the inverted commas and others the brackets. Look at the "Help" function of each database to see what you should use for that particular database.
  • Not all databases allow phrase searching. Look at the "Help" function of the database to find out.

By using phrase searching you will retrieve fewer results.

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