What is PIL?
Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a nonprofit research institute that conducts ongoing, national studies on what it is like being a 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 and the workplace. To learn more, read PIL's FAQ, a summary of our key research findings.
Our latest research, a yearlong study of students and their news engagement practices, commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Association of College and Research Libraries, is available here.
Read what they're saying about the news study at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in "Fake news making college students question all news," or read Barbara Fister and her Inside Higher Education column, "College students as news consumers."
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 carry out information tasks in the digital age.
Volunteer Sample: See the 260+ 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.
Visiting Research Scholar Program: The institutional site for the 2018/19 PIL Visiting Research Scholar Program is the University of Pittsburgh University Library System (ULS).
Support for PIL research efforts has included:
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
News Engagement Study: For the past year, we have been conducting a large-scale national study on how young adults consume and engage with news in the "post-truth" era. This large-scale study is conducted in partnership with faculty at Northeastern University and Wellesley College. Our open access report, public survey dataset and all other research materials are available at this link.
Last spring, we administered an online survey to college and high school students at 17 U.S. schools in spring 2018 (N = 6,049). We also conducted a computational analysis of 735 Twitter screen names from our survey participants to learn how they used social media to interact with news.
Our study is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and with a grant from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the largest division of the American Library Association (ALA).
Northeastern University Libraries and College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), and Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) have also contributed support .
>> Read American Libraries Magazine's coverage of our early findings presentation at the ALA Annual Conference in June (2018).
>> Read a press release about the study. For more details about how the study works, read the News Study FAQ.
The Reading List for Life: We are developing a prototype for an open access web app that lets public library users create and customize reading lists they can use for continued learning.
This project is part of a larger two-year project with PIL, the metaLAB (at) Harvard, and the Open Syllabus Project at Columbia University. Funding has been provided by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation.
>> Read the recap from our June 2018 Ideathon WEST at Seattle Public Library and our October 2017 Ideathon EAST at METRO in New York City.
>> In September, the RLfL team will be presenting at the Next Library conference in Berlin on making big data useful.
"Reading blogs to learn: Seeking knowledge from a community of strangers," Margy MacMillan, EdTech Researcher, Education Week, November 20, 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.
“How today's college students engage with news: Information practices in the age of factual recession," Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), Longfellow Hall, Askwith Classroom, Cambridge, MA, Tuesday, October 23, 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. (reception to follow). Abstract. Panelists: Alison Head, John Wihbey, and Panagiotis Takis Metaxas. Register for this free session here!
"Lies, damned lies, and news: How do today’s students stay informed and what librarians can learn from them?" ACRL Webcast, Thursday, November 8, 11 a.m. PST. Presenters: Margy MacMillan and Kirsten Hostetler. Register for the free webinar here!
"When digital meets information literacy: What can we learn from the following research processes of individual students?" Modern Language Association, Chicago, Friday, January 4, 2019, 3:30 p.m. Presenter: Michele Van Hoeck.