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Guides best practices: What is a guide?
After using this guide, Stanford Libraries staff will be able to build, assess, and maintain research guides that address specific information needs.
A guide addresses an information need
"[Research guides] address an audience with a particular and specific information need. They contain instructions, links, and information meant to help users with a specific research context or task. Guides may exist to help library users complete a class assignment requiring research, accomplish a useful library procedure, carry out research on a given topic or in a subject area, or perhaps learn to use a particular research tool like Zotero, Ancestry.com, or PsychINFO."
They're on their own, setting their own pace and their own path.
They have a specific question and a particular information need.
They're online and decide in seconds if a page has what they need.
Therefore, we create guides that...
Offer instructions that users can follow asynchronously.
Take users directly to the information they need.
Do not distract users with information they are not looking for.
A useful guide cannot address every information need
"In order for real learning to take place, information is processed in short-term, or working, memory, and passed into long-term memory as it is understood. Cognitive capacity for learning is finite, and students can become lost if too much information is presented to them at one time: it overwhelms the short-term capacity and is never absorbed into long-term memory where it can be used."
Learning cannot take place if a user is overwhelmed. Thus, the most critical step in creating a useful research guide is establishing learning outcomes that will help you make decisions on what to leave out.