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The University of Tampa Macdonald-Kelce Library

Information Literacy Framework

This guide will help students better understand the information literacy concepts underlying the research process. Information Literacy includes media literacy and text-based literacy.

Readings

Use these readings as starting points for class discussion about information distortion.

There are a variety of reasons information becomes distorted, unreliable, or inaccurate. Sometimes the distortion is intended. Sometimes it is through accident or negligence.

Intentional distortion of information can be found in the readings for agnotology (intentionally distorting scientific results to spread misinformation), or propaganda (prioritizing persuasion over accurate and reliable understanding), among others.

Sometimes there is not a good system set up to correct false information. Most scholarly journals have a method of retracting research, just as news stories might run corrections after a story is published. Retraction Watch is an independent organization which attempts to make better known when scholarship has been retracted.

Advertising's influence on information is a topic of some debate (see the entries for Wikipedia's internal discussions about advertising).

While language, the human condition, and the structure, development, and deployment of knowledge make some distortions inevitable, it is the scholar's aspiration to accurately map, reflect, and comprehend the natural world and the human condition.

Assignments

  • Discuss the difference between reasonable disagreement and attempts to manipulate. (Reasonable disagreement, for example, might be found in a list of debate topics. Attempts to manipulate might be filled with loaded language and weasel words.)
  • Does scholarship attempt to persuade? Discuss. If it does, is that an example of information distortion?
  • Read and discuss an obviously biased opinion editorial.
  • Compare two opposing policy briefs. (Note that this exercise may highlight controversial beliefs held by students and faculty.)
  • Ask students to write a intentionally deceptive short paper. Class discuss what techniques they used to deceive. Then discuss how you can recognize someone using those techniques in what they read.
  • What might indicate a site like OpenSecrets.org is reliable? What might indicate a site like OpenSecrets.org is not reliable?

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