May 16, 2022

New Research Article: "Why Not Just Google It? An Assessment of Information Literacy Skills in a Biomedical Science Curriculum"

This new open access article appears in BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:17 (25 April 2011).

Co-Authors: Karl Kingsley, Gillian M Galbraith, Matthew Herring, Eva Stowers, Tanis Stewart and Karla V Kingsley

From the Abstract:

Few issues in higher education are as fundamental as the ability to search for, evaluate, and synthesize information. The need to develop information literacy, the process of finding, retrieving, organizing, and evaluating the ever-expanding collection of online information, has precipitated the need for training in skill-based competencies in higher education, as well as medical and dental education.

The current study evaluated the information literacy skills of first-year dental students, consisting of two, consecutive dental student cohorts (n = 160). An assignment designed to evaluate information literacy skills was conducted. In addition, a survey of student online search engine or database preferences was conducted to identify any significant associations. Subsequently, an intervention was developed, based upon the results of the assessment and survey, to address any deficiencies in information literacy.

Nearly half of students (n = 70/160 or 43%) missed one or more question components that required finding an evidence-based citation. Analysis of the survey revealed a significantly higher percentage of students who provided incorrect responses (n = 53/70 or 75.7%) reported using Google as their preferred online search method (p<0.01). In contrast, a significantly higher percentage of students who reported using PubMed (n = 39/45 or 86.7%) were able to provide correct responses (p<0.01). [Our Emphasis]Following a one-hour intervention by a health science librarian, virtually all students were able to find and retrieve evidence-based materials for subsequent coursework.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.