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Information Literacy: A Conceptual Framework

Scholarship as Conversation Video

Video from the Univ. of Washington Libraries

Academic sources and research are reflective of larger lines of inquiry and dialogue. (paraphrased)




From the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy:

Scholarship as Conversation: Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.

Research in scholarly and professional fields is a discursive practice in which ideas are formulated, debated, and weighed against one another over extended periods of time. Instead of seeking discrete answers to complex problems, experts understand that a given issue may be characterized by several competing perspectives as part of an ongoing conversation in which information users and creators come together and negotiate meaning. Experts understand that, while some topics have established answers through this process, a query may not have a single uncontested answer. Experts are therefore inclined to seek out many perspectives, not merely the ones with which they are familiar. These perspectives might be in their own discipline or profession or may be in other fields. While novice learners and experts at all levels can take part in the conversation, established power and authority structures may influence their ability to participate and can privilege certain voices and information. Developing familiarity with the sources of evidence, methods, and modes of discourse in the field assists novice learners to enter the conversation. New forms of scholarly and research conversations provide more avenues in which a wide variety of individuals may have a voice in the conversation. Providing attribution to relevant previous research is also an obligation of participation in the conversation. It enables the conversation to move forward and strengthens one’s voice in the conversation.

Assignment Ideas

  • Assign an entire class to conduct an investigation of a particular topic from its treatment in the popular media, and then trace its origin in conversations among scholars and researchers.
  • Have students select a seminal work on a topic, and then identify sources that preceded and continued the conversation, analyzing the impact of the seminal work on the field.
  • Create a timeline to track the evolving threads of a continuing scholarly conversation.

- From Draft 2 of the ACRL Framework, p. 14

Questions about Your Discipline

Scholarship as Conversation

  • Where, how, and among whom do the conversations in your field take place? 
  • How does one identify those conversations?
  • What are basic expectations for or barriers to participation in the conversations in your field? (e.g. social/cultural capital, financial, prestige, networks, hidden knowledge, ability to “read” the field well enough to contribute in meaningful ways to current conversations)
  • What is an example of a multifaceted scholarly conversation occurring in your field? Can you ID some important contributions to the conversation? (How might you structure an assignment or scaffold curriculum around the development of a conversation?)

From Miller, S. D. (2016, May 20). Information Literacy in the Disciplines. Workshop presented at Thinking with Sources in the Disciplines, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI.