Skip to Main Content

Information Literacy

This guide will help you understand information literacy concepts and direct your research process. Use the guide tabs to help locate specific information and other related information.

Why cite sources?

Attributing and documenting your sources gives credit to the author and helps the reader find your research sources and information.  It also provides evidence for your arguments and adds credibility to your work. It demonstrates the authenticity of your information and pays tribute to the author's intellectual property.  Proper attribution and documentation helps you avoid plagiarism.


According to Purdue Owl,

"A paraphrase is...

  • Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
  • One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
  • A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea."


Check out more on Paraphrasing on Purdue Ow

Cite your sources

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Thanks to the PGCC English Department for this video

You’ve just been asked by the scariest professor in the college to give a very short presentation and turn in a brief write up of an issue. To make matters worse, the professor has given you the topic of global warming. The only thing you know about global warming is the handful of comments you’ve read on Twitter or random sites online or as taglines on cute pictures of polar bears on Facebook.

Scariest of all, the professor recently failed your friend when he finished his own presentation and gave him a big lecture. The professor claimed that your friend used someone else’s materials and he did something called PLAGAIRIZING. You don’t want to get into trouble. You want to do the right thing. But, how?  

Well, just what the heck is plagiarism anyway?  Plagiarism takes place when a writer or a speaker uses someone else’s’ words or ideas without giving credit to the source.  The basic idea here is that when you find ideas online or in a book, you need to let the professor and the reader where you found that information.

Here is part of what your friend turned in for his assignment. “Global warming is a big problem. The world’s 6.5 billion people pump into the earth’s atmosphere twice the amount of carbon dioxide in the world’s forest and oceans can naturally absorb.   The remaining carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere and traps heat in a phenomena known as the greenhouse effect.”

Well so what’s the problem?  Your professor asked how your friend knew that the amount of carbon dioxide was double what the earth could absorb. Your friend did not know. He told the professor that these were his own words and he did his research online.

Alright, let’s look again at the passage and figure what the problem was.  Well the first sentence was written by your friend. The underlined portion was actually copied and pasted from an article by Patrick Gonzales.  Your friend simply took Gonzales’s words and put them into his paper. Big Mistake!

Well at least you know what plagiarism means, but how can you avoid it if you’re supposed to do research on global warming?   You know very little about it. That professor is certainly making you warm right now. But what can you do?  Why can’t you just grab an online research article and use it?

Is using another source always theft or plagiarism?     The answer is more complicated than you might imagine. It’s not always as simple as shamelessly stealing somebody else’s work. But before we explore the forms of plagiarism in more depth, let’s be clear why you should care about plagiarism.

It’s not just an issue for evil college professors. Plagiarism is important for several reasons, and we’ll look at just a few.

Number 1

Yes you do want to avoid getting into trouble with the shadowy professor. You need to get a good grade and your need to get credit for the assignment. Your future career depends on completing your education.  And, plagiarism is a serious issue of Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct.

Number 2

Your friend did write some of the words he used in his assignment.  The person who did the hard work of writing was Patrick Gonzales.  Gonzales also allowed his work to be published online. This takes a great deal of effort. You probably worked hard for your car or your phone. Imagine if someone took from you and used it without your permission.  The thief or borrower did not ask you. And, they did not have to work at all for the object. That’s pretty terrible, right?

Number 3 Credibility

It’s important to use your own ideas and explanations in your writing.   However; it’s very useful and sometimes necessary to bring in outside experts or sources to help you make your point.  I mean you don’t know how much sea ice has melted or if it is melted at all.  

The author we mentioned earlier, Patrick Gonzales, has this information. You can use his words if you give him credit. When you do this correctly, writing begins to sound more believable because you are not relying solely on you own thoughts.

Okay, there are two basic types of plagiarism; intentional and unintentional.  Intentional plagiarism is unfortunately what your friend did. He copied and pasted someone else’s work into his project. When asked about it, he told the professor the words were his own.  He knew what he was doing was dishonest by using Gonzales words to improve his own writing. That’s pretty cut and dried.

Unintentional plagiarism is when you use someone else’s words and do not properly give credit or are unaware of how to correctly bring in an outside source.  The good news here is that you will learn about how to effectively handle sources in your college courses.   Mind you, if you get it wrong, it’s still considered plagiarism and has to be fixed.  But this doesn’t involve being dishonest and trying to cheat.  Even the mean old professor will probably help you sort this out if you asked early in the semester for help. 

Avoiding plagiarism

You’ve found several sources for your project and plan to use them in your presentation and as part of the written part of the assignment.  You know enough about plagiarism to know that you must give an author credit. This is where things get tricky.  There are essentially, three ways to research material to avoid plagiarism.

Method Number 1  Summary

You’ve found a great passage from a source that covers some of the material you want to have in your presentation.  However; the passage is very long and you don’t want to have to put the entire passage in quotes. You definitely don’t want to plagiarize. A summary might be a good option for you. A summary is a short restatement of the material in your own words. It should be much shorter than the actual material being used. For example, a summary of an entire chapter can often be summarized in about a paragraph.   The goal of the summary is to mention all the main points so that the reader has a general idea about the material without getting into all the details.  The idea here is to put the material in your own words and give credit to the source.  

Let’s look at a simple example.  The following material is from Mary Lou Constantine’s, Climate Change Will Force the Relocation of Animal Species.  Now take a look at a possible summary.  Note that the summary is much shorter and gives the author credit at the end. It also does not use the language from the source.

One way of doing a summary, is to pretend you are explaining to a friend what the source was about and you only have one minute to do it!  The key is to put the material in your own words and then give credit to the author.

Method Number 2 Paraphrase

A second tool for handling material and avoiding the perils of plagiarism is to paraphrase. It very similar to a summary. However; the length of paraphrase does not need to be shorter than the original source. Again, you need to put the author’s ideas into your own words but also give credit to the author.  Do NOT copy the structure or wording of the source. 

Let’s look at another example from Mary Lou Constantine’s Climate Change Will Force the Relocation of Animal Species.   Now let’s look at one possible paraphrase.  Notice that the paraphrase captures the meaning of the meaning of the material but does not use the structure or the words of the source.  

Method Number 3 Quotation

Perhaps the simplest way to avoid the ire of the professor and his wrath is to simply quote a source. We’ll go into the specifics of how to quote in depth later. But the process for now is relatively simple. All you have to do is introduce the author and then state the quote.

Consider this example of Fred Warmington’s, He’s Warming Up to the Orb. Here’s one way to quote the author effectively.  Note that   the author is introduce in the sentence. This gives the credit to the author and keeps your project safe from being accused of plagiarism.   We’ll Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is not sin except stupidity.” That may or not be true, but one thing is certain, plagiarism is stupid. You steal someone else’s which leaves you stupid.  And you stupidly assume you won’t get caught.  The truth is there’s a whole lot of tools out there to combat plagiarism.  You will be busted. You also can no longer claim ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism. Thanks to this video. Your professors never believe that excuse anyway.     

There are also consequences.  You may flunk your class, get kicked out of school, be publicly shamed, get sued, or lose your job. Don’t join the growing wall of plagiarism shame.



Meta-cognitive Awareness Inventory

Meta-cognitive Awareness Inventory

Library Terms

Library Terms

It's important to understand library terms in order for you to do your research. If you have questions about the terminology used in the tutorial you can check this Glossary of Library Terms.

Abstract:  A summary or brief description of the content of another long work. An abstract is often provided along with the citation to a work.

Annotated bibliography: a bibliography in which a brief explanatory or evaluate note is added to each reference or citation. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry.

Archives: 1. A space which houses historical or public records. 2. The historical or public records themselves, which are generally non-circulating materials such as collections of personal papers, rare books, Ephemera, etc.


Article: A brief work—generally between 1 and 35 pages in length—on a topic. Often published as part of a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

Author: The person(s) or organization(s) that wrote or compiled a document. Looking for information under its author's name is one option in searching.

Bibliography: A list containing citations to the resources used in writing a research paper or other document. See also Reference.

Book: A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. May be in print or electronic.

Boolean operator: A word—such as AND, OR, or NOT—that commands a computer to combine search terms. Helps to narrow (AND, NOT) or broaden (OR) searches.

Call number: A group of letters and/or numbers that identifies a specific item in a library and provides a way for organizing library holdings. Three major types of call numbers are Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and Superintendent of Documents.

Catalog: A database (either online or on paper cards) listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library. Various search terms allow you to look for items in the catalog.

Check-out: To borrow an item from a library for a fixed period of time in order to read, listen to, or view it. Check-out periods vary by library. Items are checked out at the circulation desk.

Circulation: The place in the library, often a desk, where you check out, renew, and return library materials. You may also place a hold, report an item missing from the shelves, or pay late fees or fines there.

Citation: A reference to a book, magazine or journal article, or other work containing all the information necessary to identify and locate that work. A citation to a book includes its author's name, title, publisher and place of publication, and date of publication.

Controlled vocabulary: Standardized terms used in searching a specific database.

Course reserve: Select books, articles, videotapes, or other materials that instructors want students to read or view for a particular course. These materials are usually kept in one area of the library and circulate for only a short period of time. See also Electronic reserve.

Descriptor: A word that describes the subject of an article or book; used in many computer databases.

Dissertation: An extended written treatment of a subject (like a book) submitted by a graduate student as a requirement for a doctorate.

DOI: Acronym for Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by the publisher to a digital object.

E-book (or Electronic book): An electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer or mobile device.

Editor: A person or group responsible for compiling the writings of others into a single information source. Looking for information under the editor's name is one option in searching.

Electronic reserve (or E-reserve): An electronic version of a course reserve that is read on a computer display screen. See also Course reserve.

Encyclopedia: A work containing information on all branches of knowledge or treating comprehensively a particular branch of knowledge (such as history or chemistry). Often has entries or articles arranged alphabetically.

Hold: A request to have an item saved (put aside) to be picked up later. Holds can generally, be placed on any regularly circulating library material in-person or online.

Holdings: The materials owned by a library.

Index: 1. A list of names or topics—usually found at the end of a publication—that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication. 2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.

Interlibrary services/loan: A service that allows you to borrow materials from other libraries through your own library. See also Document delivery.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports. See also Periodical.

Limits/limiters: Options used in searching that restrict your results to only information resources meeting certain other, non-subject-related, criteria. Limiting options vary by database, but common options include limiting results to materials available full-text in the database, to scholarly publications, to materials written in a particular language, to materials available in a particular location, or to materials published at a specific time. 

Magazine: A publication, issued on a regular basis, containing popular articles, written and illustrated in a less technical manner than the articles found in a journal.

Microform: A reduced sized photographic reproduction of printed information on reel to reel film (microfilm) or film cards (microfiche) or opaque pages that can be read with a microform reader/printer.

Newspaper: A publication containing information about varied topics that are pertinent to general information, a geographic area, or a specific subject matter (i.e. business, culture, education). Often published daily.

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC): A computerized database that can be searched in various ways— such as by keyword, author, title, subject, or call number— to find out what resources a library owns. OPAC’s will supply listings of the title, call number, author, location, and description of any items matching one's search. Also referred to as “library catalog ” or “online catalog.”

PDF: A file format developed by Adobe Acrobat® that allows files to be transmitted from one computer to another while retaining their original appearance both on-screen and when printed. An acronym for Portable Document Format.

Peer-reviewed journal: Peer review is a process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the experts’ peers. Peer review helps to ensure the quality of an information source. A peer-reviewed journal is also called a refereed journal or scholarly journal.

Periodical: An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals. See also Serial.

Plagiarism: Using the words or ideas of others without acknowledging the original source.

Primary source: An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.

Print: The written symbols of a language as portrayed on paper. Information sources may be either print or electronic.

Publisher: An entity or company that produces and issues books, journals, newspapers, or other publications.

Recall: A request for the return of library material before the due date.

Refereed journal: See Peer-reviewed journal.

Reference: 1. A service that helps people find needed information. 2. Sometimes "reference" refers to reference collections, such as encyclopedias, indexes, handbooks, directories, etc. 3. A citation to a work is also known as a reference.

Renewal: An extension of the loan period for library materials.

Reserve: 1. A service providing special, often short-term, access to course-related materials (book or article readings, lecture notes, sample tests) or to other materials (CD-ROMs, audio-visual materials, current newspapers or magazines). 2. Also the
physical location—often a service desk or room—within a library where materials on reserve are kept. Materials can also be made available electronically. See also Course reserve, Electronic reserve.

Scholarly journal: See Peer-reviewed journal.

Search statement/Search Query: Words entered into the search box of a database or search engine when looking for information. Words relating to an information source's author, editor, title, subject heading or keyword serve as search terms. Search terms can be combined by using Boolean operators and can also be used with limits/limiters.

Secondary sources: Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.

Serial: Publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers that are generally published multiple times per year, month, or week. Serials usually have number volumes and issues.

Stacks: Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to as “book stacks.”

Style manual: An information source providing guidelines for people who are writing research papers. A style manual outlines specific formats for arranging research papers and citing the sources that are used in writing the paper.

Subject heading: Descriptions of an information source’s content assigned to make finding information easier. See also Controlled vocabulary, Descriptors.

Title: The name of a book, article, or other information sources. Upload: To transfer information from a computer system or a personal computer to another computer system or a larger computer system.

Virtual reference: A service allowing library users to ask questions through email, text message, or live-chat as opposed to coming to the reference desk at the library and asking a question in person. Also referred to as “online reference” or “e-reference.”

Multilingual Glossary for Today’s Library Users - Definitions

Multilingual Glossary for Today’s Library Users

If English is not your first language, then this resource will help you navigate the definitions of library terms in the following languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Vietnamese.

Assistive Technologies

Accessibility Masterlist

This MasterList, edited by Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D., is designed to serve as a resource for researchers, developers, students, and others interested in understanding or developing products that incorporate one or more of these features.

Each feature or approach is then listed below along with applicable disabilities to each feature are marked with the following icons:

  • B - Blindness (For our purposes, blindness is defined as no or very low vision - such that text cannot be read at any magnification)
  • LV - Low Vision
  • CLL - Cognitive, Language, and Learning Disabilities (including low literacy)
  • PHY - Physical Disabilities
  • D/HOH - Deaf and Hard of Hearing

American Sign Language Dictionary

Search and compare thousands of words and phrases in American Sign Language (ASL). The largest collection of free video signs online.

Braille Translator is a simple way to convert text to braille notation. This supports nearly all Grade Two braille contractions.

Voyant Tools (Corpus Analysis)

Voyant Tools is an open-source, web-based application for performing text analysis. It supports scholarly reading and interpretation of texts or corpus, particularly by scholars in the digital humanities, but also by students and the general public. It can be used to analyze online texts or ones uploaded by users. (Source: Wikipedia)

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)