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Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Interconnected concepts and ideas about information, research and scholarship.

FRAMEWORK FOCUS : Authority is Constructed and Contextual

    Information resources reflect their creators' expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required. Information is judged in part based on its creator’s credibility and is applied in context.

Key Sentence: Novice learners may need to rely on basic indicators of authority, such as type of publication or author credentials, where experts recognize schools of thought or discipline-specific paradigms.

Knowledge practices:

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • define different types of authority, such as subject, societal, or special;
  • use research tools and indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources;
  • understand that disciplines have acknowledged authorities: scholars and publications considered "standard";
  • recognize that authoritative content may include sources of all media types;
  • acknowledge they are developing their own authoritative voices and responsibilities;
  • understand the increasingly social nature of the information ecosystem where authorities connect.


We teach:

  • Finding and evaluating peer-reviewed information 
  • Discipline-specific databases 
  • The information cycle and the nature of different information sources 
  • Avoiding plagiarism 
  • Citation-ranking database tools like Scopus 
  • Informational texts versus storytelling
  • Using multiple source types for comprehensive evaluation 
  • "Quality of evidence pyramid" for clinical source evaluation 

Works Cited

Select information on this LibGuide used with permission from

ACRL Framework

“Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Association of College and Research Libraries, 11 Jan. 2016, Accessed 07 June 2017.