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“Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." - Association for College and Research Libraries.


Evolving your information into an article.

  1. Can you find relator terms that might broaden your subject? Instead of looking for “French Fries”, you might consider “American cuisine”, or “Fried foods”, or “Fast Food”.
  2. Have you considered searching for the opposing information to your subject, or controversy surrounding it?
  3. Have you looked at the references and bibliographies of the information you have found? You might find additional information or ideas to consider.
  4. How many people have published on this topic previously? Am I contributing to the expansion of information or just another echo?
  5. What area of this topic is missing from the publishing industry?
  6. Can you formulate your interest into a broad topic that can be filtered down into interest topic areas? This might be your writing outline.
  7. Can you form a question an interviewer might ask you about this topic, to help you consider what information to look for?
    1. “What is the process for  organic farmers to declare their foods are free of pesticides?”   - related to GMO topic.
    2. “Why are pesticides used in wheat harvesting?”  - related to GMO and Gluten topic.

Using the above questions, we can then springboard the research process into areas to search:

“organic farming restrictions” for “insecticide and pesticides use”

“organic farming qualifications”

“pesticide use in farming history” 

“wheat harvesting + pesticides”

You will find as your knowledge builds, you will find relator terms, and the knowledge will naturally expand.

If you are searching within a database, such as EBSCOhost, you will see drop down related searches  while you are typing, that can spark your information journey. 

“organic farming vs. traditional farming”

“organic farming challenges”

“organic farming techniques”

We then learn from the return of the articles that there are many types of farms that apply the term organic; poultry, livestock,  cotton fiber, foods, agriculture, etc.   Reviewing over the articles that are returned from the search helps to recognize and build the  information, which assists us to define our search and ask more questions.

“organic agricultural farming challenges”

“cost controls”

Even if you don’t find the right article yet—don’t give up hope—it may just mean you need to modify your search terms. If you have zero returns on your search, you might be looking down too narrow a topic in the wrong place.

Review any similar article that may be near the topic of your interest—then peruse the Subject Term and Author Supplied Keywords listings.  These are library applied subjects that link to other subject and articles related. 

In this instance the  following term was found:

“Organic farming—Environmental aspects—research”

You might also want to rephrase your perspective for opposition?

  • Instead of asking HOW— ask WHY?
  • What IF ______?
  • Should ______ replace ______?