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Arkansas State University

Information Literacy: Why Info Literacy?

Information literacy is the set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."

WHY DO WE NEED INFORMATION LITERACY?

Information literacy allows you to recognize your information needs, locate and evaluate information and then use that information effectively. It's not just an academic skill -- you use it more often than you realize.

INFORMATION LITERACY AND BUYING A CAR

You want to buy a car.  Here's how using information literacy can help:


Define - It should be obvious that you need a car, but what type of car? Is gas mileage a concern? Do you need space for a family?  Can you afford the insurance on a sports car? Also think about which cars receive high safety ratings, have the highest customer satisfaction, and/or fall within your budget. Also, what type of incentives and maintenance packages do your local dealers offer? These are all types of questions you should ask yourself before even looking at a single car.

 
Locate
- You might:

  • Visit consumer report websites and find out about user satisfaction, cost of upkeep, etc.
     
  • Visit dealer websites to learn about financing and incentives.
     
  • Visit the Better Business Bureau to learn about dealers' customer satisfaction.

 

Analyze

  • Use a price guide such as Kelley Blue Book or NADA to make sure you're getting a good deal.
     
  • Ask for a new CarFax report, don't rely on an old one.
     
  • Analyze the car reviews you've found.  Are there any trends? Are negative reviews legit or written by a few angry customers?
     
  • Find out if the consumer websites gets paid by the car company for their review. Are they given incentives to write good reviews?
     
  • Read the small print. Car ads can be deceptive.

 
Organize - Gather all your research into a notebook or folder before visiting the dealerships. You may wish to have separate entries or pages for each dealership to make it easier to compare deals and selling practices. Organizing your information will:

  • Give you more bargaining power. 
     
  • Help you get the best deal.
     
  • Show that you are confident, professional and "mean business."
     
  • Impress and/or distress the salesman. You might find that they take you more serious when come in informed and can easily find documentation to support your claims. 
     

Share - Sharing your information will:

  • Let the salesman know that you are an informed consumer.
     
  • Give you more bargaining power. If you have proof that the dealer's prices are unreasonable or that other dealers offer better deals, the salesman might work with you.
     
  • Help you with financing. If you understand the terms and incentives at all the dealers, you might use that information to get a better deal at your preferred dealer. It also helps to be able to talk about the terms of your financing and actually be able to understand what the salesman is talking about.
     
  • Keep you from wasting your time. Some dealers just won't budge. If the salesman sees that you are organized and informed, they might just be up front and admit they are not the dealership for you.


Evaluate - You bought the car, now what? Evaluating your purchase will:

  • Help you realize what a great (or bad) deal you got.
     
  • Give you tips to make future transactions easier.
     
  • Help you understand your financing terms and payment options.
     
  • Possibly establish a strong consumer/business relationship. Did the dealership do an amazing job? Are you a patron for life now? 

INFORMATION LITERACY AND GETTING A JOB

You graduated and found a job posting for your dream job. Here's how information literacy can help:

 

Define - You may have to be flexible, especially for your first professional job, in what jobs you're willing to take. Are you willing to move? How far is too far to drive? Is child care a must? Think about what really is important to you and what are the things in a job you would just like to have.

 

Locate - You need to know not just the job requirements, but something about the company and the surrounding community. And you never know, after researching the company, you may realize that they aren't the right place for you -- thus saving you time and trouble.You might:

  • Visit the website for the company you want to work for to learn about its history, its mission, and its clientele. 
     
  • Visit the Chamber of Commerce website for the city the company is located in. 
     
  • Make use of a cost of living calculator.  Is the pay enough to live comfortably in that region? How does it compare to your current salary?
     
  • Visit a job review website such as Glassdoor. Just keep in mind that many reviews are written by disgruntled employees. Look for patterns of complaints (and praises). 

 
Analyze -

  • Analyze any negative reviews of the company and/or city. Is there a trend that you should be aware of or do the comments seem to go against what you are normally finding? Remember, some bad reviews are written by disgruntled employees.
     
  • Make sure that you use the newest city guides, cost of living calculators, etc. Don't rely on old information. 
     
  • Make sure that you are looking at the company's current website. Some companies change their website address or have old versions of their site still on the Web.
     
  • When writing your cover letter, make sure to double check the spelling of the company and its city. Also, double check the official titles of hiring personnel.

 

Organize - This step is especially useful when writing your cover letter and your resume. Organizing will:

  • Help you mentally write the letter before actually sitting down and writing.
     
  • Help you decide which order to address the points in your letter.
     
  • Help you keep the letter an acceptable length.

 

Share - Feel free to have someone look over your cover letter and resume before submitting it. When you are satisfied with the final product, submit it to the company.  A well-thought out and researched cover will:

  • Help you stand out among the crowd. Someone who shows that they have done research on the company and its community will have a better chance of being called to an interview than an equally qualified employee who just wrote a basic cover letter.
     
  • Show your potential employer that you really want the job.
     
  • Show that you are professional with an attention to detail.
     
  • Show that you are willing to relocate.

 

Evaluate - Evaluating your cover letter and resume will:

  • Help you see why you did or didn't get the job.
     
  • Give you insight and experience for future cover letters.
     
  • Help you find mistakes. Did you accidentally get the name of the company wrong in the letter? Did you make a horrible typo?  Learn from any mistakes.
     
  • Finally, ask for feedback. Remember, don't come across as challenging. Ask "can you give me some feedback so I can do better at my next interview?" instead of asking "how come I didn't get the job?"

JOHN HOPKINS TRAGEDY - INFORMATION LITERACY GONE WRONG

In 2001, researchers at John Hopkins university were studying asthma. The researchers recruited healthy volunteers to under go bronchoconstrictive stimulus (they were given things that might trigger an asthma attack). One volunteer was 24 year old Ellen Roche, a lab technician at John Hopkins. On May 4, 2001, Roche was given 1 gm of hexamethonium as part of the research.

Before the clinical study even began, researchers did research on hexamethonium for any known negative side effects. They made use of Google along with Yahoo, LookSmart and GoTo.com. The researchers also referred to the PubMed database. Nothing was found.

OK, so they did research, how could they have messed up?

The researchers assumed they covered all their bases. However, Yahoo, LookSmart, and GoTo.com aren't appropriate places for medical research. They needed medical information from medical professionals - not websites. And while the PubMed database is an appropriate resource, it does not contain all medical reports or articles, especially older ones. No one ever looked at other reliable resources or at older resources. If they did, they would have found several 1950's reports on hexamethonium toxicity. They also would have learned that the FDA withdrew hexamethonium for human use in the 1970s.

The cost of the mistake?

The day following her intake of hexamethonium, Roche began experiencing a dry cough which turned into flu like symptoms within three days. Her condition steadily became worse and she was admitted to the hospital on the 9th for observation. On the 12th, she was transferred to the ICU. On June 2nd, Ellen Roche died due to progressive hypotension and multiorgan failure.

You can read more here.