Instructional services: Information literacy & research skills


Instructional services: Information literacy & research skills

Our mission

Through our learning and instructional services, we strive to help all students integrate and apply new research skills and knowledge to succeed in their academic studies and become capable researchers in a world where information literacy is absolutely required of all lifelong learners and engaged citizens.

Our strategy*

SFU Library’s Instruction Strategy [printable version] was created in consultation both internally and with our partners and learners outside the Library.  It guides how we work with SFU learners, teachers, and staff.  We support the full cycle of knowledge creation: curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, communication, and engagement with community.  We are forward-looking and collaborative, attentive to areas of growth, capacity, change, and opportunity.

Our services

Liaison librarians can work with you to help students learn how to strategically explore, critically evaluate and ethically use information relevant to their academic disciplines and beyond -- including a wide range of subject-specialized and multidisciplinary resources available through SFU library online.

We offer face-to-face, online, and blended instruction options for students at all levels via library research workshops and online tutorials.

Customized workshops for your class

Contact your liaison librarian to arrange library research workshops tailored to your students' learning needs, assignments and/or course curriculum. Workshop topics may include (but are not limited to!)

  • developing research topics
  • formulating search strategies
  • navigating specialized research tools and resources
  • finding and understanding data and statistics
  • understanding and engaging with traditional and emerging models of scholarly publishing and communication
  • critically evaluating relevant information sources
  • ethically using and contributing to scholarship

Please note: workshop requests should be made as early as possible (ideally at least one month in advance) and are dependent on staffing and space resources. For maximum impact on learning, we aim to schedule instruction at a time when students are actively working on course research assignments or projects.

Looking for more customized workshop options for your class?

Extracurricular workshops for your students

Outside of class, your students may also be interested in participating in some of the extracurricular research, writing, learning and EAL workshops that we regularly offer at SFU Library.

View a list of all of our upcoming Library, Research Commons and Student Learning Commons workshops (please note: advance registration may be required).

Tutorials to embed in your Canvas course

You can easily import any of our online library tutorials as modules in your Canvas course. Go to Canvas Commons to search for the desired tutorial by title and then follow these step-by-step instructions to import the content. If you have questions or need further assistance with this, please contact contact SFU Canvas Support.

If you have feedback regarding the content of these tutorials or would like to consult with us about customizing these materials for your Canvas course, please contact:

Academic Integrity Tutorial
Collaboratively developed by SFU's Academic Integrity Coordinator, Library and Student Learning Commons (SLC), this interactive tutorial gives students a broad overview of the academic integrity expectations at SFU. Students will be informed of their rights and responsibilities and will also learn to advocate for themselves and seek resources that will support them in their learning. 

Plagiarism Tutorial (or Tutoriel sur le plagiat)
An interactive tutorial with quizzes designed to help students understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid committing it.  Students will learn to recognize different types of plagiarism and be introduced to various practical skills – citing, note-taking, quoting, and paraphrasing – that will assist them in the writing process. A French translation is also available.

Library Research Skills Tutorial (1)
A great interactive tool for research essentials, students will learn the basics of library research, including an understanding of the peer-review process. Many instructors assign this as preparation for more specialized library instruction. 

Beyond the Basics: Library Research Skills Tutorial (2)
This interactive tutorial builds on the basic skills covered in the introductory Library Research Skills Tutorial (1) and may be of particular interest to humanities and social science students working on literature reviews and other upper-level research assignments. 

Copyright for SFU Students
This tutorial will help students understand what copyright is and what that means for them. It will help students be able to follow copyright laws when they use copyright protected materials in their course work, and will help them understand their rights as an author or creator of copyright protected works, as well as the rights of other creators. There are several quizzes along the way to test students' understanding of the material. (Please note that this tutorial is intended for the Canadian context and should not be construed as legal advice.)

Introduction to Scholarly Publishing
This tutorial will introduce students to the basics of getting their work published, including examining the journal publishing cycle, building and measuring research impact, exploring options for open access publishing, and understanding author rights and copyright for publication. While primarily of interest to graduate students who may be considering publishing all or part of their thesis, this tutorial could also be useful to anyone affiliated with SFU who is interested in publishing their academic work.

Assignment development and curriculum consultations

Your liaison librarian can partner with you to develop or provide feedback on course assignments with library research or information literacy components.

  • If involved early enough in the assignment planning process, we can help to identify areas where some students may not yet have the necessary research knowledge or skills to succeed. We can then work with you to develop instructional strategies and/or tools to help students overcome such potential roadblocks.
  • ​We can also develop customized resources to help students research specific topics or subject areas, which can be published on the Library website or directly embedded in your online course. Please note that requests should be made as early as possible (ideally at least one month in advance).
  • On request, we also offer consultations on integrating research skills and information literacy into course curricula. Contact your liaison librarian for more details.
Looking for input on student writing assignments? On request, the Student Learning Commons also offers TA and instructor training on writing assessment and consultations on integrating writing into course curricula. For more information, contact

What is information literacy?

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education is a guiding document for our instruction program.

Information literacy is defined as "the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning" (ACRL, 2015). For students, developing and applying their abilities in this area is key to academic success and prepares them to confidently and actively contribute to their communities of learning and research.

Data is everywhere and far more accessible than before. Incorporating data literacy, the ability to collect, manage, evaluate, and apply data, in a critical manner into assignments will support students in becoming more than just consumers of information.

Project Information Literacy is a large-scale, ongoing research study investigating how today's post-secondary students "find and use information -- their needs, strategies, practices, and workarounds -- for course work and solving information problems that arise in their everyday lives." View their latest publications for more information.

Our goals for information literacy instruction

  • Integrate the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education into our instructional practice
  • Collaborate with instructors to design information literacy instruction at the most effective points in students’ education
  • Use flexible, learner-centred approaches to instructional design and delivery
  • Use pedagogical approaches that encourage development of critical thinking skills and attitudes that can be applied to academic, workplace, and day-to-day information needs
  • Continually grow our teaching expertise through a strong community of practice


For general questions or more information about our library instructional services, please contact

*Our Library instruction strategy is informed by: SFU Library Strategic PlanSFU 2019-2024 Academic PlanSFU 2016-2020 Strategic Research Plan; ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education; SFU campus curriculum, educational goals, and priorities; best practices in higher education and pedagogy.