Getting to know our textbook

This textbook was created as a part of the Iowa State University Library 160 course curriculum, with the intended audience being first-year or transfer students new to ISU.

About This Course

Library 160 is designed for first-year undergraduate students as a foundation for college-level research. You know how to search for information, but how does that work in a college context? More importantly, how can you trust that the information you find is right for your assignments and meets your professors’ expectations?

This course takes you step by step through the process of researching information for papers and other assignments. You’ll learn about developing a research question, and then explore how to search strategically, evaluate sources, and use information ethically. These skills can be applied and built upon as you move into your upper-level, major-specific classes, and are also helpful in your daily life.

After taking Library 160, you should be able to:

  • Recognize that research is a process that is contextual based on your needs
  • Develop relevant search terms from a research question
  • Utilize strategies for locating information within a variety of search tools
  • Evaluate information critically in your coursework and daily lives
  • Recognize best practices for using information ethically
  • Identify the resources and support available through the library

About This Book

This textbook is free for you to use and download. It is divided into five chapters that each focus on a specific part of the research process.

Each chapter contains:

  • Learning objectives: These come first in each chapter, and provide an overview of what you can expect to learn and what you’ll be asked about on the chapter quiz.
  • Content: You’ll learn about research skills, types of sources, and tools for finding information. Examples from a variety of disciplines illustrate how these research skills are relevant for everyone.
  • Callout boxes: These provide additional information or give examples to demonstrate concepts from the text.
  • Vocabulary terms: These bolded words highlight a new concept or a new use for a familiar word, and can also be found in the glossary at the end of the book.
  • “Check your understanding” activities: These help you practice with the concepts or skills outlined in the chapter. Don’t worry; the activities aren’t graded, but they can help you prepare for your chapter quiz.

The following video can help you learn more about navigating through the book’s chapters and other features:



This manual exists thanks to the combined efforts of many authors and we want to recognize their work.

Current contributors include: Abbey K. Elder, Rano Marupova, Kris Stacy-Bates, Cara B. Stone, and Erin Thomas.

Cover art by: Harrison Inefuku

Thanks also to the many past contributors to the manual and the foundation they built. Particular thanks to Susan A. Vega García, who served as chair of the Library 160 Curriculum Committee for many years.


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Library 160: Introduction to College-Level Research Copyright © 2021 by Iowa State University Library Instruction Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.