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Research Services Training

Quality protocol

  1. Welcome 
  2. Gather information with open-ended or neutral questions 
  3. Confirm the exact question [paraphrase what you think the person is looking for]
  4. Through teaching/guiding patron, provide the answer (information, source, or referral) 
  5. Follow up​: "Does this answer your question?" Encourage inquiry.

Interview questions

Who, What, Why, Where, When, How

  • Who assigned the project OR What class is the information you need for?
  • What kind of information on X are you looking for?
  • What would you like to know about this topic?
  • What do you mean by X?  
  • What else can you tell me that might help us locate materials?
  • What aspect or specifics about X are you looking for?
  • I'm not certain I understand....What examples can you give me?
  • What do you already know about X ?
  • What are some key concepts, terms or vocabulary for this topic?
  • Where have you checked for information so far?
  • What would you like to know about X?
  • When you say _______________ , what do you mean?
  • Would you describe the kind of information you would like to find?
  • If I could find the "perfect" book/article to help you, what would that have in it? Or, what would the title be?
  • Where did you hear or read about ________ ?
  • I'm not familiar with that person. What is he/she known for? (and...Is he/she living or dead?)
  • How will you use the information? That will help me with our search.
  • I'd like to help you find the best possible information. Would you tell me more about your subject?

Adapted with permission from University of Washington Libraries

To assess the situation:

“It would help us with our search if you could tell me…”

  • what you’re working on
  • how this information need arose
  • what you are trying to do in this situation
  • what happened that got you stopped

To assess the gaps:

  • What would you like to know about X?
  • What do you need to know about X?
  • What are you trying to understand? [Where are you in your search process?] 

To assess the uses:

“I think I can help you faster/better if you can tell me…” OR "It would help if you told me..."

  • How you are planning to use this information
  • If you could have exactly the help you wanted, what would it be? 
  • How this will help you.
  • What will it help you to do? 

Adapted with permission from University of Washington Libraries

What kinds of questions would you ask to help you identify the information the patron wants?

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