What is PIL?
Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a nonprofit research institute that conducts ongoing, national research studies on what it is like being a college student in the digital age. We examine how college students find and use information -- their needs, strategies, practices, and workarounds -- for course work and solving information problems that arise in their everyday lives.
To learn more, read PIL's FAQ, a summary of our key research findings, or our opinion piece, "At Sea in a Deluge of Data," from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
PIL AT A GLANCE
Director: Dr. Alison J. Head
Purpose: PIL is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit institute that conducts ongoing, scholarly research about how young adults conceptualize and operationalize information tasks in the digital age.
Volunteer Sample: See the 250+ community colleges, public colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities in the U.S. that have already joined the PIL volunteer sample. Read the FAQ about how your institution can join the sample, too.
Contributing Supporters have included:
IN THE WORKS
News Consumption Study: We are conducting a large-scale national study on how young adults interact with news and gather information.
The research, conducted in partnership with faculty at Northeastern University and Wellesley College, will focus on two of the most pressing issues of what has been called our “post-truth” era: currency and authority.
The report will look to break new ground as an empirical and quantitative study of many issues -- such as “fake news” and misinformation -- to help better ground public discourse and potential policy solutions.
It will also formulate a set of recommendations for professionals directly implicated in addressing relevant problems, offering insights to three groups in particular working with young adults on the front lines: librarians, journalists, and educators.
The study, set to end in fall 2018, will be one of the largest of its kind, with surveys and interviews on college campuses and other educational settings across the country.
The research is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a grant from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the largest division of the American Library Association.
Northeastern University Libraries and College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), and Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) have also contributed support to this research project.
>> Press release about the study. Or for more details about how the multi-institutional study works, read the News Study FAQ.
The Reading List for Life: We are developing an open access web app that lets users create and customize reading lists they can use for continued learning.
In October 2017, we held an ideathon with public librarians at METRO in Manhattan. Here's a recap of this event.
This work is occurring in a two-year project between PIL, the metaLAB (at) Harvard, and the Open Syllabus Project at Columbia University. We expect to have a prototype of this app that we will test in public library settings by mid-2018.
Funding has been provided by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation.
>> Recap from our October 2018 Ideathon at METRO in New York City.
"Reading blogs to learn: Seeking knowledge from a community of strangers," Margy MacMillan, EdTech Researcher, Education Week, November 20, 2017.
"Forging the new frontier of teaching and learning," Alison J. Head and Michele Van Hoeck, PIL Smart Talk interview with Rob Lue, Director of the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard, November 16, 2017.
"Why blogs endure: A study of recent college graduates and motivations for blog readership," Alison J. Head, Michele Van Hoeck, and Kirsten Hostetler, First Monday, October 2, 2017, Vol, 22, No. 10.
“Fake news and the next generation,” Dan Cohen and What’s New Podcast: An Exploration New Ideas and Discoveries, Northeastern University, Episode 2, September 6, 2017 (36:50 minutes).
"Posing the million-dollar question: What happens after graduation?" Alison J. Head, Journal of Information Literacy, June 5, 2017, Vol. 11, No. 1: 80-90.
"The importance of truth workers in an era of factual recession," Alison J. Head and John Wihbey, Medium, April 8, 2017.
"What are the best (and worst) research practices we've learned on PIL studies?" Webinar, Purdue University Libraries, January 23, 2018, noon EST. Presenter: Alison Head.
"Born digital: Finding, evaluating, and using information for today’s learners," Texas Library Association, Dallas, TX. April 5, 2018. Presenter: Kirsten Hostetler.
"How do students find news, and how does news find them?" Early research results from PIL's news consumption study, 2018 Annual ALA Conference (sponsored by ACRL), New Orleans, June 23, 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Presenter: Alison Head.