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Information Literacy

Contact Information

In person at the J.N. Desmarais Library: The Library User Assistance Desk is just to the left of the entrance to the library.

By email: Reference help is available by contacting the librarian responsible for your subject area. A Librarian will respond during regular hours.

By telephone: Call us at 705-675-4800 or by extension  4800.

Distance education students: Telephone : 1-800-661-1058, ext. 2; Fax: 705-671-3803 (Attention: Off-Campus Library Services); email:

For more information visit our Services for Students page.

Library Instruction

Basic online library instruction is available in either official language using Laurentian's Desire2Learn platform or as videos . For further information consult Alain Lamothe, ext 3304.

For special instruction in this subject during class time, ask your professor to arrange a class by contacting Alain Lamothe, ext 3304.

For instruction on archival materials, ask your professor to arrange a class by contacting Natasha Gerolami, ext. 3339.

What is Information Literacy?

While there does not exist a single definition of "information literacy," there are five steps commonly associated with it:

  1. To recognize when information in needed.
  2. The identification and definition of needs.
  3. To competently find information.
  4. To evaluate the sources.
  5. To use the information ethically and efficiently.

Information literacy enables you to find and use information to the best of your ability. As information platforms are constantly changing, it is important to review and refresh your information skills.

Advanced research is a challenging undertaking which requires perseverance and planning. It is likely that you will need to use both primary and secondary materials in your research. Though there are not official rules on what constitutes primary and secondary materials (it can change between professions), we can say that primary sources are sources created at the time of an event, such as correspondence, art, media (images, music, and videos), data, archival documents, etc. Secondary sources on the other hand, are reflective and analytical, such as textbooks, journal articles, book/article critiques, etc. Library and Archives Canada published an excellent explainer of primary and secondary sources.

If you haven't already completed the Research Skills Tutorial on D2L, we highly recommend you do so before continuing.

Research Steps

There are 5 key steps to conducting research:

  1. Choose a subject: Decide on the scope of your subject, find associated key words, etc.
  2. Search for information: Consult references, conduct a literature review, use the techniques learned in your Online Research Skills Tutorial, etc.
  3. Access useful information: Modify your search criteria when necessary.
  4. Evaluate the sources: Analyse the sources, identify what's missing, are the materials sufficient? Using the 5 steps of evaluation (credibility, authority, etc.) conduct a critical evaluation of the sources you intend to use.
  5. Write and cite: Include your literature review if required.


Worth consideration

How do we differentiate between periodicals?

  • Examine the language used. Does the author use professional jargon or more casual language? The style and level of writing can hint at the targeted population.
  • What references are listed in the text and bibliography: are they academics and respected professionals? Does the paper cite its resources?
  • Who is the publisher? Is it a university or academic press, or is it a commercial press?
  • Examine the graphics used: are they cited graphs and maps, or are they advertisements and pictures?

Citation analysis

Citation analysis is a method of evaluating articles by determining how many times the article or author has been cited by researchers. Several databases ( Google Scholar, Thompson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge, etc.) offer the ability to examine citation use.


An excellent way to evaluate books and articles is by reading critical reviews. For the best search results you should have the author, title, and date information.

Several databases offer a significant amount of book reviews:
There are also databases that offer reviews of articles: Annual Reviews, etc.
For more information on reviews by subject, visit the "Reviews" tab.


Research is a continuous process. For the benefit of both you and your research, it is important to keep current with your subject:

  • Create email alerts on your search criteria in databases.
  • Sign up for RSS feeds of blogs, websites, and databases in your field.
  • Join professional and academic associations:
  • Sign up for association Listservs, which can be found at:
  • Pay attention to upcoming and recent conferences in your research subject and within your profession.


Book Reviews

Please view our subject guide on finding and writing book reviews.

A book review is a descriptive, evaluative account and discussion of a book written by a contemporary critic, often a scholar. According to L. King, a book review "can first of all indicate to the reading public some general idea of the contents and it can offer a critique, an evaluation of merit. These two functions are rather distinct and yet they belong together".

Indexes and abstracts, among other databases, will help you locate book reviews. In order to locate a book review you must have the following information.

  1. Author's full name
  2. Full title of the book
  3. The year in which the book was first published. Check the back of the title page for this information or consult the catalogue.

Intellectual Property

Ethical Integrity

Protect yourself, your work, and your colleagues against plagiarism. Cite all of your sources and use them as they are intended. Misconduct and plagiarism in research involves fraud against faculty members, integrity concerns, discrediting authors, and harms you in the short and long term.

History is full of cases of research misconduct: "medical" experiments, falsification of data, and plagiarism. The consequences extend from prison to professional and academic disgrace. You can fail your assignments and the course, and it can affect your ability to find employment.

To avoid accidental plagiarism, take good notes making note of the author, title of the work, date, source, and pages of each resource you examine.

Copyright differs from country to country. Learn your rights as a student and researcher in Canada.

Academic Integrity for Students at Laurentian University

Protect yourself against plagiarism, examine the policy Academic Integrity for Students at Laurentian University, approved by Senate on December 14, 2010.


Protect yourself, learn the laws of copyright in Canada. View our subject guide on copyright. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office provides information on current copyright protection. In the summer and fall of 2012, the Government of Canada passed and adopted a new law: The Copyright Modernization Act which affects citizens and how they use information, extending the fair dealing exception to include education, however, digital locks trump any educational exceptions or fair dealing.

Laurentian University has signed on with Access Copyright: The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, an agency that "represent[s] the reproduction rights of and distribute[s] royalties to thousands of Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers" (Access Copyright, 2010).

Two well-respected Canadians share significant information on copyright and intellectual property online: Michael Geist (Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa and Canada's Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law) and Ariel Katz (Professor of Law at the University of Toronto and holds the Innovation Chair in Electronic Commerce).

Additional Information

Copyright (©) protection is vast and complex. There are cases, as students and professionals, where we need further information. The following are useful links for various acts and websites that can help clarify intellectual property, electronic documents, and personal protection:



One of the first steps in thesis creating is researching theses themselves in order to obtain correct procedure. There are books available at the J.N. Desmarais Library through the catalogue. Additionally, the School of Graduate Studies offers thesis procedures online.

Research Guides

To better enable your research, consult the research guides created by our subject librarians.


Our Research Repository - LU Zone UL is host to the electronic theses and dissertations accepted at Laurentian University. Consulting these documents can enable you to better understand thesis formating as well as provide specialised information within your subject area. Explore the collection by browsing by subject, by author search, or through advanced searching.

Several databases offer access to international theses and dissertations, such as ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.

Others focus on regional collections: