May 27, 2022

New Research Article From Project Info Literacy: “What Information Competencies Matter in Today’s Workplace?*

Here’s a new full text article by Project Information Literacy researchers.

It appears in the latest issue (Vol 37, No 114 (2013)) of Library and Information Research.


What information competencies matter in today’s workplace?


Alison J. Head
Director of Project Information Literacy (PIL,  
Fellow at the Harvard University‟s Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Affiliate Associate Professor, University of Washington

Michele Van Hoeck
PIL researcher and the Instruction Coordinator at California Maritime Academy Library

Jordan Eschler
PIL Researcher
Doctoral Student, U. of Washington Information School

Sean Fullerton
PIL Researcher
Doctoral Student, U. of Washington Information School


This is a qualitative study about the information competencies that employers seek in university graduates and the skills which graduates demonstrate when they enter the workplace. Included are findings from interviews with 23 US employers and focus groups with a total of 33 recent graduates from four US colleges and universities. Employers said they recruited graduates for their online searching skills but once graduates joined the workplace they rarely used the traditional, low-tech research competencies that their employers also needed. Graduates said that they used skills from university for evaluating and managing published content; yet most graduates still needed to develop adaptive strategies to save time and work more efficiently. A preliminary model compares information problems in the university with those of the workplace. Opportunities are identified for preparing students to succeed beyond the academy in the workplaces of today and tomorrow.


* This paper is based on a study conducted by Project Information Literacy (PIL) in collaboration with Harvard University‟s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the University of  Washington’s Information School. It was published as Learning curve: how college graduates solve information problems once they join the workplace (2012). For the present paper, the authors have synthesized methods  and findings from the original report that appear in Sections 3 and 4. Three additions to the report appear in the present paper: the Literature Review (Section 2), the model of information practices in college compared to those of the workplace (Section 5.1 and Figure 5), and the discussion of opportunities for academic librarians (Section 5.2).

Direct to Full Text Article (31 pages; PDF)

See Also: Listen Online: Dr. Alison Head on Modeling the Information-Seeking Process of College Students in the Digital Age (January 17, 2012)

See Also: New PIL Report: “How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library During Crunch Time” (October 13, 2011)

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.