To be honest, information literary does not scream excitement for most people. It’s a dry topic and will likely give sleep-deprived students the opportunity to catch a quick nap during the professor’s lecture on this subject. For students and researchers who missed that discussion or are looking for a refresher course, then Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research (2015, University of Chicago Press), co-written by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon, might just be what the professor ordered.
The authors efficiently divide the topic into seven areas, stepping through the process from starting academic research by narrowing a topic of interest into a cohesive thesis statement, to how to use information ethically by using citations to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism. Resources are at the heart of this slim graphic novel and the crux of research – from how are they organized (library catalogs, journals, databases, the web) to evaluating them for use in one’s research project. Because there is so much material covered, the authors balance text with everyday life examples that are humorous and relatable. The visuals drive each lesson home and are apt to be remembered.
At the end of each chapter, there are a handful of critical thinking exercises. The questions encourage the reader to reflect on the material covered in the chapter, which is beneficial given the heady discussion of information literary throughout the book. In addition, a five-page glossary of the major terms covered can be found at the conclusion of the last chapter. The selection of terms is comprehensive and could be used as a reference if a researcher is looking to brush up on terminology and/or when needing a reminder on a particular research concept.
For the reason that the authors sought to present the abundance of information in a graphic novel format, it is the same reason that this book becomes text heavy. At times, the visuals are lost amongst the speech bubbles; it is the nature of the topic and since the authors are meticulously detailed with their presentation, it would have been difficult to trim text. An index, which should be in every academic publication, would have been exceedingly beneficial to this graphic novel because of the number of concepts and terms covered. It was difficult to locate where concepts were discussed or terms defined, because the text is so compact (visually!) on each page.
The “more on that later…” statement was used often throughout the book, so the authors did not deviate from their main discussion. Sometimes, those tangent topics are exactly what the reader is looking for, so it would have been helpful if the authors had referenced a page number to turn to, because, as mentioned above, there is no index and no subtopics listed in the table of contents.
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research is a good resource book for those individuals venturing into the academic world where vigorous research is critical and expected; however, this book can also be used as a refresher course to brush up on terminology and the ever-changing world of technology that impacts research. And, because of the dense nature of information literary, the material presented benefits from the visual component afforded by the graphic novel format. Hence, the authors present the topic in engaging and visually humorous chapters that are apt to keep the reader focused and turning the page.