Tasks behind the research tasks

Floral pattern on carnival glass
By aussiegall from sydney, Australia (Carnival Glass Pattern) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
When I recently sold a vintage glass dish, I saw how one simple transaction involves many tasks behind the task.  So do many research activities.

Before traveling with a fragile dish I checked that the dealer would want it.  First I staged the piece.  Then I took a picture.  Then I showed it to the dealer.  Once he expressed interest, I had a new set of tasks: washing the dish, packing it safely, etc.  Let’s not forget looking up prices.

Seemingly basic research tasks also involve sub-tasks or background knowledge.  For example finding a journal article involves locating an article database, not to mention knowing what a journal article is in the first place.

I don’t wish to reduce research to tasks or skills.  All the same research involves some tasks.  Hinchliffe (2016) notes that “we need the answer to the question ‘what will a. . .student be able to do?’ ” (para. 9). Thinking of the tasks behind the tasks can help us plan research instruction.


Hinchliffe, L. J. (2016, June 19). The ACRL information literacy constellation [Blog post]. Retrieved

from https://lisahinchliffe.com/2016/06/19/information-literacy-constellation/



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