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Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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2 Digital and information literacy skills framework

Based on your previous undergraduate studies, other research or work experience, you should already have attained certain DIL skills. This means that you are likely to have a working knowledge of different learning resources (e.g. management tools, databases, journals, study guides, etc.) that will complement your studies, and be able to:

  • independently select the most appropriate resources for a specific task
  • keep up-to-date with any changes to the resources selected for that task
  • independently carry out a wide-ranging, systematic literature search (and be confident that the information found represents a thorough sample of the literature)
  • filter and critically evaluate information obtained from any source (including your own and other students’ writing) to ascertain its quality and relevance to the purpose at hand (e.g. determine any bias in approach, the validity of its outcomes, etc.)
  • accurately and appropriately refer to and reference the thoughts, ideas and work of others (including published authors, other students, anonymous websites, etc.) in your work, and ensure these can be differentiated from your own thoughts, ideas and conclusions.

As a postgraduate student you will be expected to have a reasonable idea of how to find, retrieve and work with different sources of information, but the key thing here is to ensure that you know how to do this as effectively as possible. The Open University’s digital and information literacy framework [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   can help you to recognise how your DIL skills are progressing during your studies and how these relate to your academic, personal and professional (employment) needs.

NOTE: You can download the full document if you wish to explore this more fully, but are not required to do so. Activity 3 will take you through the relevant sections of the framework that specifically relate to Master’s-level study.

The framework is based around five core skills (or ‘competencies’) that cover:

  • understanding and engaging in digital practices
  • finding information
  • critically evaluating information, online interactions and online tools
  • managing and communicating information
  • collaborating and sharing digital content.

There are also five ‘levels’ of study, ranging from Access level (i.e. pre-undergraduate level skills), through the three stages of undergraduate study prior to Master’s/professional levels of competency. As an example, focusing on the core competency of ‘collaborating and sharing digital content’, an expected skill at postgraduate level (and one that you may already have developed as part of your undergraduate studies), is to ‘produce a shared digital asset or output in collaboration with others as part of an assessed activity’.

Activity 3 Digital and information literacy – comparing undergraduate with postgraduate

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Read the document comparing undergraduate Level 3 study with Master’s-level study and compare the competency descriptors. Make a note of, and think about the skills that are expected to have been developed by the end of your undergraduate degree, and those that you will continue to develop at Master’s level.