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UGST 1001 - Winter 2024 Library Session


Session OutlineStock image picture of a human figure with a question mark.

Here is a plan for what we will cover today:

  1. Go over assignment details.

  2. Provide an overview of how to search LibrarySearch and Google Scholar for scholarly sources.

  3. Learn the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly sources.

  4. Practice information evaluation skills.

  5. Show a couple of different ways to get help if you have questions.









Public Domain MarkThis work (Question Mark Symbol Icon Character, by Peggy_Marco), identified by Pixabay, is free of known copyright restrictions.

Assignment Details

Information Literacy Assignment

1. Pick a Research topic

The research topic you choose needs to be related to university students (e.g. university students and self-care; university students and social media, etc). You may choose a topic from the list below, or seek approval from the instructor for another topic:

  • Concentration

  • Experiential learning

  • Extracurricular activities

  • Financial considerations

  • Loneliness

  • Mental health

  • Motivation

  • Self-care

  • Sense of belonging

  • Sleep

  • Social media

  • Test anxiety

  • Working a job during school

2. Design a Research Question

Now that you have a topic, come up with a question that you would like to research related to that topic. Remember that your question and topic must be related to university students.

  • For example: How can university students take care of their mental health?

3. Find Sources to Support Your Research Question

Now that you have your research question, use the strategies from the library workshop to find 3 sources, including at least one that is scholarly and one that is non-scholarly, that you could use to answer your research question. You will be summarizing and analyzing these sources in your annotated bibliography.

4. Write a Summary of Your Research Topic and an Annotated Bibliography

Using your research question and sources, you will write a short paper, using APA formatting, that has two sections:

  • 4.1 A summary of your research topic:

    • To start your paper, please summarize your research topic in a minimum of 300 words by sharing:

      • your research question

      • why you chose your research question (i.e. what interests you about this topic and how might the information you find support student success?)

  • 4.2. An annotated bibliography:

    • The second part of your paper should be an annotated bibliography. This will include the full citation of each source itself, followed by paragraphs underneath each source as follows:

      • At least 250 words to summarize the source; what type of source is this (scholarly or not, and why?), who is the author, and what are the main points?

      • At least 350 words to analyze the source; is the source credible, and how do you know? What are the strengths and limitations of the source? Why did you choose this specific source to support your research question?

APA formatting should be followed throughout the assignment – please include a title page and use a minimum 11-point font size. Documents should be submitted as a Word or PDF file, not as a Mac (Pages) file. 

Clear: It is easily understood by your audience/reader.

Focused: It is narrow enough to allow you to address it in your assignment.

Concise: It is expressed in the fewest possible words (not too wordy).

Complex: It cannot be answered with a yes or no, and it is not a leading question (biased).

Open: It actually can be researched - naturally, it should generate more questions.


Your topic:

Working a job during school

Rephrase your topic as a question:

What is the effect of working a job during school on a student's academic performance?

Possible search concepts/terms:

  • academic performance

  • academic success

  • student employment

  • domestic students? international students?

Conducting Academic Research With LibrarySearch 

LibrarySearch is MRU Library's one-stop search interface/catalogue that brings together resources across format, time, and subject. 

We have about 1.3 million e-resources and 221,000 physical resources in our collection, and LibrarySearch searches across those.

Things to remember when using LibrarySearch:

  1. Sign in to save searches, items, and to request materials.

  2. Use the pin icon to save books and articles to your Favorites for future reference.

  3. Use the filters on the right. You will use Availability, Resource Type, and Date filters most often. Filter settings can be "locked in" so that you don't have to reapply them to every search that you make.

  4. Some items may not be available, however, you can request unavailable items using what is called interlibrary loan.

  5. When viewing an item record, scroll down to the Get it (for hardcopy/physical items) or Access options (for electronic items) section to get access to the item.

Helpful Search Operators to Use in LibrarySearch

You can use what are called search operators to search in a way to combine or omit different terms by telling the search engine exactly what you want and this can help you save some time (and frustration!)

  • Use quotation marks to keep specific phrases together:

    • "social media"

    • "public space"

    • "inclusive design"

    • "fast fashion"

  • Use AND to combine search terms (LibrarySearch automatically creates an AND when you write terms one after another, but it can be good practice to use an AND to help you understand the searches that you build) (AND narrows your search):

    • "social media" AND privacy

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms (OR broadens your search):

    • "social media" OR "social networking"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol:

    • access* (in this example, the search access* will search for records that contain strings such as accessible and accessibility)

Conducting Academic Research With Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to find high quality resources.

Besides providing links to resources in MRU databases, Google Scholar links to online repositories that contain articles the author has been allowed to upload. and ResearchGate are among the repositories searched by Google Scholar.

By clicking on the Settings icon, you can select library links to show library access for up to 5 libraries (type in Mount Royal and click on save).  If you are logged into MRU library, links should automatically populate if you are running a Google search in another window. 

Google Scholar has a nifty citation chaining function. The Cited by function will forward you to indexed scholarly material that has cited a resource that you may be interested in. The Related articles link will direct you to similar articles that may have the same metadata or keywords. 

Helpful Search Operators to Use in Google Scholar

Google Scholar's Advanced Search is found by clicking the menu icon in the top left.

You can also add search operators to Google Scholar searches to build your own custom advanced searches in similar ways to LibrarySearch:

  • Use quotation marks to keep specific phrases together:

    • "climate change"

  • Avoid using AND to combine search terms with Google Scholar, as the search engine automatically creates ANDs between concepts and sometimes adding an additional AND can confuse the search syntax.

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms:

    • "social media" OR "social networking"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol:

    • ethic* (in this example, the search ethic* will search for records that contain strings such as ethics, ethical, and ethically)

Figure 1

Peter Steiner's Famous 1993 New Yorker Cartoon Illustrating an Issue Central to Information Evaluation

Note. From "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" [Cartoon], by P. Steiner, 1993, Wikimedia (

Evaluating Information

It is good to find lots of search results, but, in order to use information skilfully, you need to know how to evaluate that information to determine whether a specific resource is appropriate to use in a specific use case (i.e. for a specific assignment).

The phrase "evaluating information" actually stands in for a wide range of judgments that we make about information in many different contexts, whether those judgments are about relevance, timeliness, quality, etc.

Librarians have developed several different acronyms to help people remember useful criteria to use in information evaluation. One of my personal favourites is RADAR!

RADAR stands for





Reason for Creation

We can ask the following questions to help us assess each criterion:


  • Does this source fit my topic?

  • What is this source's intended audience?

    • Is that intended audience appropriate for my use case in this assignment?


  • Is/are the creator(s) of this source clearly identified or known to us?

  • How important is it in this use case to trust the source's creator(s)?

    • If it is important, why should we trust the source's creator(s)?

    • Is the source's creator credentialed or an expert in their field?


  • Is the creation or publication date of this source identified or known to us?

  • Is this source too old?


  • Do this source's facts "check out"?

  • Does the source have references of its own?

Reason for Creation (take your best guess at this question using judgments from earlier criteria):

  • Why was this source made?

  • Was this source made to sell a product or service, to inform/educate, to entertain, etc?

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

scholarly publication contains articles written by experts in a particular field. The primary audience of these articles is other experts.

Many of these publications are also referred to as "peer-reviewed," academic, or "refereed." They all mean essentially the same thing and refer to the editorial and publication process in which scholars in the same field review the research and findings before the article is published.


Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed

Popular / Not Scholarly (but possibly still credible!)


  • Expert

  • Journalist / professional writer

Review Process

  • Reviewed by an editorial board or other experts ("peers")

  • Reviewed by an editor

Audience /

  • Scholars and students

  • Technical language

  • General public

  • Easy to understand


  • Original research

  • Uses previously published literature for background

  • News and practical information

  • Uses a variety of sources for background 


  • Always cited

  • Sometimes cited


  • Peer-reviewed articles

  • Scholarly books

  • Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses

  • Theses and dissertations

  • Magazine articles

  • Newspaper articles

  • Blog articles

  • Encyclopedias

  • Textbooks

  • Websites

  • Social media

Some Helpful Questions for Identifying a Scholarly/Academic Article

  1. What are the author’s credentials? Was it written by an expert?

  2. Was it published in a journal (is there a DOI?)? (If you are not sure if a source is a journal article, you can enter the title of the publication into Ulrichs Web to check.)

  3. Does it use academic or more technical language?

  4. Does it includes a reference list of sources that it is citing?

  5. How long is it? (Scholarly articles are typically longer than popular or news articles.)

  6. Does it have a "Received" and "Accepted" date on it?

  7. Is it an actual article? (Sometimes other types of content are included in scholarly publications, such as editorials/opinion pieces and book reviews. Make sure you are looking at an article.)

Activity: Is It Scholarly?

To make sure we are all on the same page, let's put our knowledge to the test.

Skim the following resources available through the links keeping in mind the characteristics we have discussed in class (for example: what is this information and where did it come from? Was it written by an expert? Where is this source published?).

Vote whether you think this source is Scholarly or Not Scholarly.

Source 1

Scholarly: 36 votes (97.3%)
Not Scholarly: 1 votes (2.7%)
Total Votes: 37
Scholarly: 13 votes (38.24%)
Not Scholarly: 21 votes (61.76%)
Total Votes: 34
Scholarly: 1 votes (2.86%)
Not Scholarly: 34 votes (97.14%)
Total Votes: 35
Scholarly: 5 votes (13.89%)
Not Scholarly: 31 votes (86.11%)
Total Votes: 36
Scholarly: 4 votes (11.43%)
Not Scholarly: 31 votes (88.57%)
Total Votes: 35
Scholarly: 3 votes (9.09%)
Not Scholarly: 30 votes (90.91%)
Total Votes: 33
Scholarly: 17 votes (43.59%)
Not Scholarly: 22 votes (56.41%)
Total Votes: 39
Scholarly: 34 votes (91.89%)
Not Scholarly: 3 votes (8.11%)
Total Votes: 37
Scholarly: 6 votes (18.75%)
Not Scholarly: 26 votes (81.25%)
Total Votes: 32
Scholarly: 31 votes (81.58%)
Not Scholarly: 7 votes (18.42%)
Total Votes: 38

Citation Help

  • Use the "cite" feature in most search tools to get you started with most resources (you will need to review and correct the citation).

  • Cite Sources: Learn the correct way to cite sources by using these guides, tutorials, and videos.

  • Academic Success Workshops: Academic Success Workshops are 75 minutes long and are offered both in-person and online. Registration is required.

  • Appointments: Personalized online or in-person 30-minute appointments with a Learning Strategist at Student Learning Services located on the 2nd floor of the Riddell Library & Learning Centre.

  • Use the Service Desk on the 1st floor of the RLLC for assistance as well as the library chat feature on the library website for quick citation questions.


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Joel Blechinger
Phone: 403.440.8624
Office: EL4423E