Framework Focus: Inquiry

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

4. Research as Inquiry

Key sentence: Novice learners acquire strategic perspectives on inquiry and a greater repertoire of investigative methods.

Knowledge practices:

  1. formulate questions for research based on information gaps or existing information;
  2. determine an appropriate scope of investigation;
  3. deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones;
  4. use various research methods, based on need, circumstance, and type of inquiry;
  5. monitor gathered information and assess for gaps or weaknesses;
  6. organize information in meaningful ways;
  7. synthesize ideas gathered from multiple sources;
  8. draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information.


  1. consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information
  2. appreciate that a question may appear to be simple but still disruptive and important to research
  3. value intellectual curiosity in developing questions and learning new investigative methods
  4. maintain an open mind and a critical stance
  5. value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility, recognizing that ambiguity can benefit the research process
  6. seek multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment
  7. seek appropriate help when needed
  8. follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information
  9. demonstrate intellectual humility

We teach:

  • Formation of research questions as an essential part of the process (COSU 100 and elsewhere)
  • Background research and database selection (COSU 100, ENGL 102)
  • Searching iteratively and managing results (ENGL 101, 102, throughout the majors)
  • Use of Research and Writing Log to document research question evolution (ENGL 300 and BIOL 205)
  • Organizing information using RefWorks (workshops and upper level courses)
  • Searching based on citation metrics (PHSC 451/536)
  • Various specialized disciplinary databases throughout the majors
  • Community needs analysis (BADM 100, 200, and 536)
  • Interpretive lenses for Biblical exegesis (various CHRS and DIVI courses)
  • Acknowledge experiential limitations (SPAN 241)
  • Comparing and contrasting sources to identify gaps and weaknesses, related to thesis statement (HIST 351, HIST 448)
  • Translation of research or clinical questions into effective search strategies (OMED 502 and above, MSBS 544, PA 609, PT 702)
  • Matching research or clinical questions to appropriate databases (OMED 502 and above, MSBS 544, PA 609, PT 702)

“Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Association of College and Research Libraries, 11 Jan. 2016, Accessed 21 June 2016.

Download Framework Resources for Librarians.