As information is created at an ever-increasing rate in a bewildering variety of formats, the competencies required in professions are transformed. In 1983 the American Chemical Society issued guidelines on information retrieval for undergraduate education (American Chemical Society, 1983). In 1992 the Standards Task Force of the New England Bibliographic Instruction Committee issued recommended minimum training guidelines for psychology majors (Merriam, LaBaugh, and Butterfield, 1992). In 1993 Susan Weaver reported that "information pertaining to the nursing profession is said to double every 5 years."(Weaver, 1993, p.30) A preliminary search of the literature has turned up very few articles on information literacy in nursing. The few that have been found have not stated specifically what information competencies are needed by the professional nurse.
The following list of information literacy skills has been developed
by Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg and the Social Work/Social Welfare Committee
of the Educational and Behavioral Sciences Section of the Association of
College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.
I have adapted this list to reflect the nursing profession. This is a work
in progress and the list will be revised and expanded as this project develops.
2) a chapter in a book
3) a book
4) a government document
5) proceedings of a conference
The student can use the library online catalog to locate a book or periodical.
The student understands how to obtain a book or periodical from another institution through interlibrary loan.
The student knows the procedure to recall a book or periodical which
is currently checked out to another user.
Psychological Abstracts (PsycLit)
Sociological Abstracts (Sociofile)
Child Development Abstracts
Health and Safety Science Abstracts
GPO Monthly Catalog
Science Citation Index
The student is aware of US government document and state government document sources for public health, demographic and policy-related research.
The student knows how to use Library of Congress subject headings to find nursing and health-related materials in the library online catalog.
The student is familiar with the major journals which report nursing research and practice issues.
The student is familiar with the various types of reference tools and major reference sources in nursing, i.e., the student can:
b) find definitions of pertinent terms and ideas
c) locate reviews of the literature
d) retrieve biographical information
e) find book reviews
f) use citation indexes to update books and articles
The student can distinguish between primary and secondary sources in evaluating nursing research.
The student can distinguish between scholarly and popular treatments of a nursing or health-related subject.
The student is familiar with Internet resources relevant to nursing and is able to critically evaluate information found on the Internet.
The student is able to efficiently search the Internet for information related to nursing.
The student is familiar with the various types of media used to communicate
and is capable of critically evaluating both the message and medium through
which it was conveyed.
The student understands the difference between keyword and controlled vocabulary searching.
The student is familiar with and can use search strategy techniques such as truncation, universal characters, field searching, etc.
The student can use documentation to answer questions about searching electronic index sources.
The student knows which visual cues on the monitor screen are important
in a particular database.
The student can make a general assessment of an author's competence, e.g., the author's earned degrees, publication record, professional/institutional affiliation, etc.
The student can locate pertinent research collections in the field (manuscript collections, research centers, special libraries and archives).
The student is aware of electronic research sources and is able to use such sources or knows how to obtain help in using such sources.
The student understands the purpose and scope of professional associations, their major publications and research tools. The student knows how to identify professional contacts and research opportunities for obtaining grants, publishing and/or displaying work in the field.
The student understands how to organize and manipulate electronic information so as to retrieve information, analyze information, and produce new information in a variety of media formats.
The student understands how to access and use a document delivery service, such as Uncover, in preparation for professional practice when there may be no libraries nearby.
The student understands how and when to use Netscape or some other browser to access health-related information on the World Wide Web. The student further understands how to effectively search the World Wide Web for health/nursing information by using search engines and subject directories. He or she can also evaluate the information found on the World Wide Web for relevance, reliability, currency, and accuracy.
It is recommended that attainment of the above nursing information literacy skills be measured through out the nursing curriculum by assessing the range and quality of information cited by students in their research projects and presentations. In particular, it would seem appropriate to focus on teaching and assessing the information literacy skills of students in nursing research and a research assignment within an area of practice. For instance, in a community nursing class an assignment could be given which requires the student to demonstrate the ability to locate and analyze public health policy, accepted practices, treatments, and patient education most relevant to a particular condition or disease.
A student's advanced research skills could be evaluated through an assignment or assignments which require the student to select, evaluate, and present the most relevant knowledge on a topic, in an area of nursing practice. In particular, the students should demonstrate: the ability to identify the materials most relevant to the topic, awareness of and competence in the use of electronic research sources, awareness of research collections in the field, awareness of relevant materials created by professional associations, and the ability to organize and communicate results in a variety of media formats.
American Chemical Society, Committee on Professional Training. (1983). Undergraduate professional education in chemistry: Guidelines and evaluation procedures, with chemical information retrieval appendix. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society.
Merriam, J., LaBaugh, R.T., & Butterfield, N.E. (1992). Library instruction for psychology majors: Minimum training guidelines. Teaching of Psychology, 19, 34-36.
Weaver, S.M. (1993). Information literacy: Educating for life-long learning.
Nurse Educator, 18(4), 30-32.
Send comments and suggestions about this page to: Sharon Chadwick
This page was last checked/updated: January 25, 1999