Information Literacy and the Ethics of Academic Writing 1

By Sanches, Tatiana | Journal of Information Ethics, Fall 2016 | Go to article overview

Information Literacy and the Ethics of Academic Writing 1


Sanches, Tatiana, Journal of Information Ethics


Introduction

This article relates educational and pedagogical aspects in the university context to information literacy and academic libraries. Students' permanent learning needs are a social reality and one of the current challenges of academic libraries. University libraries should act in the social context that instigates life-long learning, contributing to the construction of tools that can be used not only during the academic path, but also throughout the whole life cycle.

In the major transition between the school system and the labor system, the university student needs to master a set of soft skills. Within this set, the academic library can collaborate in the promotion of information skills, seeking to develop pedagogical practices involving information literacy, namely those used in academic writing. The main purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the pedagogical action of the academic library acquires meaning through information literacy, particularly when applied to the entire scope of the concept. The study is developed around three themes: the social context that frames current learning needs; the response of information literacy to these needs in a comprehensive manner that can contribute to improving student performance; and finally, the completion of academic writing in an ethical and responsible manner, within the framework of information literacy.

In light of information literacy theories, and taking into account the experiences of different academic libraries in guiding and supporting school work, the conclusion is that it is possible to develop students' ethical components within this area.

Education, Social Change and Libraries

Over the past thirty to forty years, the visible face of education in Portugal - a southern European country - has changed dramatically. Among these changes are widespread literacy efforts and the extension of compulsory schooling. The diversification of courses and training arrangements, the implementation of pre-school education, and the massification of higher education are other examples of changes made in the Portuguese educational system. As a catalyst of the changes experienced in the Western world, the school was consolidated and integrated into the cultural system and into society, and it has faithfully depicted the diversity of these changes.

The political and economic context of expansion and growth in Western countries, with the end of the cold war and the social movements that prompted the geographical, political and cultural mobility of populations, came to reveal sociological changes that have claimed a new individual place in the social scene. At the end of the twentieth century, this person, heir to modernity, came to be the protagonist of the era of emptiness. The postmodern man whom Lipovetsky so lucidly characterized, when reflecting on the social positioning of the human person, "now performed in a detached, uncompromising, sterile manner, in search of the immediate, in response to the pleasure call and with the narcissistic individual desire for self-satisfaction" (Lipovetsky, 1988: 54, translation mine). To paraphrase the author, our culture, but also our ideology of welfare, stimulates dispersal instead of concentration, the temporary instead of the voluntary, and works for the fragmentation of the self, the annihilation of organized and synthetic psychic systems. Students' lack of attention that all teachers today complain about is nothing more than the way this new cool and agile consciousness acts, analogous to spectator awareness, captured by every- thing and by nothing, at the same time excited and indifferent in the antipodes of voluntary consciousness.

The relevance of this description is in accordance with the multiplication of channels for obtaining, producing, and disseminating information. This multiplication had a significant impact on how individuals access information and, as a result, how libraries have looked at their role and repositioned themselves regarding their patrons and users. …

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