Skip to Main Content

Writing 110: Information Literacy

This guide is for students in Michael Chamberlain's Writing 110 course.

Getting Started

Information Literacy

What is information literacy? This video briefly explains, in plain English, information literacy in light of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education and explains how these concepts apply in the real world, beyond the classroom.

Information Literacy at APU

Click on the link below to go to the Information Literacy Tutorial. Then click on "Join Course".

A short video on information literacy skills and scholarly research.

Gathering Background Information

Best Bets:

Other Sources:

Searching For Literature: The Process

Topic:  spirituality and palliative care

  • Cancer patients

  • Adult

Developing a Research Question

A good research question also leads to a direct answer in the form of a thesis.

  • Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic. 

  • Consider the “so what” of your topic. Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?

Some good words and phrases to include in your research question include:

  • What are…? What do…? What should…? Why…? How…?

  • Effects, benefits, impact, consequences, factors

  • Prevent, promote, encourage

Reflect on the questions you have considered. Identify one question you find engaging and which could be explored further through research.

How does spirituality provide support to adult cancer patients in palliative care?

Identifying Keywords or Main Concepts

Your keywords should be in the research question that you wrote above. Highlight your keywords in your question:

How does spirituality provide support to adult cancer patients in palliative care?

  • spirituality
  • adult
  • cancer
  • palliative
  • support

Identifying Synonyms or Related Words

Different authors may use slightly different words to describe the same idea. For example, one author may write an article on college students and religion, while another may write about university students and religion. Limiting your search to “college students” will keep you from finding articles about “university students.” Therefore, you should always consider possible synonyms for each of your concepts.

  • Spirituality - religion, spiritual, faith, prayer, meditation, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.
  • Cancer - oncology, neoplasm, tumor, carcinoma, etc. 
  • Palliative - end of life, death, dying, terminal, hospice, etc. 
  • Support - need, help, comfort, peace, assist, aid, etc.
  • Age Group or Age Related Check box: Adult

Constructing Search Statements

How Boolean Operators Work

Placing the words “AND” and “OR” (also called Boolean operators) between your search concepts and synonyms can help you create a search statement that retrieves the most relevant sources.

As the diagrams illustrate, using the word “AND” reduces the number of results you get, by requiring that both terms appear in each result. Placing “OR” between search terms expands the number of results because it retrieves sources that use any of the words. Generally speaking, you should use “AND” between each of your concept terms, since you want to find books and articles that address all the aspects of your topic. You should use “OR” between synonyms, to make sure that you find closely related sources.

elated image

Searching Techniques

Truncation Phrase Searching Wildcards Nesting
Broaden your search to include variant word endings and spellings. Enter the root of the word then the truncation symbol, usually the asterisk *. Use quotation marks " " around search words to search for a phrase - only use this around two or more words. Using the phrase search will help you narrow your results. Substitute a symbol for just one character. The most commonly used wildcard symbol is a question mark ? Use parentheses () to put search words into sets. Terms in the parentheses are processed first. Use nesting with AND, OR, & NOT.


nurs* = nurse, nurses, nursing

religio* = religion, religions, religious, religiosity


"end of life"

"spiritual care"


wom?n = women, woman

m?n = men, man


(screening or detect*) and lupus

(cancer* or neoplasm*) and "spiritual* care"

Create your search statement

religio* or spiritual* or faith* or christian* or islam* or muslim* or jew* or judaism or pray* or meditat*

AND palliative or "end of life" or terminal* or dying or hospice or death

AND cancer* or oncolog* or neoplasm* or tumor* or malignan* or carcinoma

AND support* or need* or assist* or aid* or peace*

Age Group or Age Related Check box: All Adult

Now copy and paste your search statement into a database of your choice.

Multiple Subject Research Databases

Best Bets:

Other Databases:

Avoiding Plagiarism and Citing your Sources

What is plagiarism and how can you avoid doing it? Sometimes it is deliberate, but most of the time it is simply because you don't know when and how to cite a source. This short tutorial video defines plagiarism, in my own words and based on my own experience in information science, and outlines 5 easy steps for how to avoid it.

APA, MLA, Turabian, etc.: