Millennials and Research: Information Literacy Skills for the Workplace

Research & Development | December 04, 2017

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Information literacy can be a hard concept for millennial employees who have grown up using search engines. Corporate librarians can give them tools they need to succeed.

Research Habits of Millennials

Your new grad employees, or millennials, have proven to be technologically savvy. Having grown up in the age of the internet, they may know how to find information, but do they know how to conduct research?

Today, anyone can execute a Google search. It only takes seconds to type in a keyword and receive countless results — some helpful and some not so helpful. Information from popular search engines can often be misleading, incorrect, outdated or overwhelming. Many millennials have been using search engines to conduct research throughout their academic careers and aren’t aware there is another way.

In order to help millennials conduct successful research, it’s important for corporate librarians to educate and provide additional options to improve their information literacy skills.

Improving Information Literacy

According to the American Library Association, information literacy is “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

An information literate person has mastered the following skills:

  • Identify research requirements and decide what information is needed, explain the question to be answered and understand that the question may change over time.
  • Locate relevant and reputable information resources. 
  • Evaluate the information found and the sources analytically.
  • Synthesize the data, integrate it into their knowledge and apply it to the original information need.
  • Present newly required information in a way that others can understand it. 
  • Translate new information and findings to new assignments and disciplines.

Developing these skills takes time and practice and many new employees were never equipped with the right tools to grasp these information literacy concepts. Now, as corporate researchers, they must learn how to carefully evaluate the information they receive.

In order to help millennials conduct successful research, it’s important for corporate librarians to educate them and provide additional options to improve their information literacy skills. 

How You Can Help

There are a few steps that leaders within an organization (librarians, managers, human resources professionals) can take to help ensure that young employees become effective researchers. Some suggestions include:

  • Meet with employees one-on-one. Take time to sit down with millennial employees to understand their pain points and frustrations.
  • Have a training process in place. Be sure to show and explain to all new employees the research options you offer at your company (databases, e-journals, books, etc.).
  • Understand the topic employees are researching. Different industries require different research methods. When working with a young employee, take the time to brush-up on the topic to best guide them. 

If your company has invested in databases, it is helpful to have clear instructions so new employees understand their features and functionality. That is why EBSCO has created this simple User Guide — print it out, send it via email or keep it on your company’s intranet. Download the guide today to give your millennial employees a leg-up on corporate research.

Download User Guide

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