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Disciplinary Literacies - Source ID
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Library Workshop Outline - Disciplinary Literacies - Source Identification

I use this workshop outline as a starting place for classes who are working on the disciplinary literacies assignment, particularly if one of the stated learning outcomes is for students to identify different types of sources. The focus is giving students opportunities to explore a scholarly source, and to get acquainted with some of the scholarly conversation.

All times approximate, based on engagement of the class, student questions, etc.

Tour - 30 min

(Optional - can expand time for searching instead)

Pop/Schol Exercise - 40 min

Bring up class assignment and discuss how it will connect to the library workshop

Warm Up Discussion

Start with thinking about a situation in which you needed to find information recently.  


Describe the situation to the person sitting next to you. Share 2-3 examples with the class


Things to draw out:



In this class, we are going to talk about how academic research is different than casual research, about different types of information you might need for different situations, then look more closely at a couple of those types of information to see how they function.  

Part of the purpose of the disciplinary literacies assignment is to get you thinking about how different kinds of information function in your field, and also how to find those types of information.

Examining Popular/Scholarly Sources

Project short links to these two articles:

Directions for students

Look at two different kinds of information

  1. Spend ~10 minutes reading both of the articles (read the intro, then first paragraph of each section of the first article)
  2. Turn to your neighbor and compare/contrast observations - how are the two articles different, and how are they similar
  3. Discuss the differences observed with the whole class

Group Observation

Ask students for observation or compare/contrast about the following elements of each source:

Do a check on:

What kinds of things could you learn from a scholarly article? What could you learn from the popular article?

Browsing scholarly literature at MSU - 20 min 

Use the Browse Subjects feature to find journals for your major or field. Find an article that is surprising, or makes you curious to know more

What kinds of things are professors writing?

Think about what characterizes the writing - do the topics surprise you? Purpose of a scholarly articles vs something like an encyclopedia article. You won’t get the whole picture from the scholarly article because it’s concerned with a narrow area of study.

Link back to earlier discussion of the parts of scholarly articles and how they function.

This also gives students a sense that journals are collections of articles/how they function as a means of communication.

Search Mechanics - 20 min

Do search keyword strategy based on the article they identified in BrowZine. What keywords would you use if you were looking for popular article? What about for more scholarly articles?

Show how to use facets and do different kinds of searches in the article search/Discuss library Article Search mechanics

This will be a pretty quick demonstration. Emphasize that each topic is different, and circulate to provide individual help and pointers.


Talk to a librarian if run into weird search screens/can’t find relevant information

Librarians can help brainstorming where to search and what search terms to use

Can also talk to a peer research assistant in one of the engagement centers

Emphasize that it’s hard to anticipate all challenges with each topic, so it’s a good idea to come for help when you’re actively involved in the search process.

Created by Emilia Marcyk. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License