What is Big6?
The Big6 is a process model that can help you solve any kind of information problem. While you are in seminary, most of your information problems will be written assignments. Information problems will follow you to your place of ministry, and likely plague you at home, too. The Big6 is a way of thinking about problem solving that can help you organize yourself and guide you toward a successful resolution.

The six stages of the Big6 are:
  1. Task Definition
    1. Define the information problem
    2. Identify information needed
  2. Information Seeking Strategies
    1. Determine all possible sources
    2. Select the best sources
  3. Location and Access
    1. Locate sources (intellectually and physically)
    2. Find information within sources
  4. Use of Information
    1. Engage (e.g., read, hear, view, touch)
    2. Extract relevant information
  5. Synthesis
    1. Organize from multiple sources
    2. Present the information
  6. Evaluation
    1. Judge the product (effectiveness)
    2. Judge the process (efficiency)
These stages do guide you from definite starting point through a linear flow to an ending point, however, as you work with the Big6 you may find it necessary and helpful to revisit stages as you move through the process. For example, as you enter stage 4 and begin to use the information you've located, you may find that the information is not helping you answer your questions. Revisiting your questions (stage 1) or refining your search for information (stages 2 and 3) may be helpful before proceeding any further.

Benefits of Big6 include providing a prescriptive framework for approaching your assignments, helping you to organize your work, giving you a set of tasks to complete that can be planned out and scheduled, and prompting you to assess yourself and the process for growth and improvement.

 
Big6 Resources
Big6 Skills Overview

Big6 Writing Process Organizer by Barbara Jansen

 Big6SkillsOverview.pdf pdf - printable handout

 Big6SkillsWorksheet.pdf pdf - printable handout
Big6 Logo
Task DefinitionTask Definition
Information Seeking Strategies Information Seeking Strategies
Location and Access Location & Access
Use of Information Use of Information
Synthesis Synthesis
Evaluation Evaluation


 
Big6 Skills Explained
Big6 Skills Presentation on Prezi
Using Big 6 for Interpretive Essays in Biblical Studies
Using the Big6 Skills process model approach, here are some steps that may help you work through writing an interpretive essay in a biblical studies course. This application of Big6 to your assignment is also available in a printable handout:   OT100ResearchTutorial.pdf pdf 

Step 1: Task Definition
Once you have completed your analysis, a question will emerge that will direct your research. Use your knowledge of biblical studies to identify whether this question is literary, historical, translational, social world, reader-oriented, etc. Is there anything you don't understand or aren't sure about? Ask for help!

Step 2: Information Seeking Strategies
How would your question be answered? Will you be looking for a certain type of information or interpretation from a particular perspective or voice? Use your training in biblical studies resources to identify the types of resources that are most likely to address your question. Think about where you will look to find them.

Step 3: Location and Access
This is when you go to the library and/or look things up on the Internet. The library has numerous tools available both on- and off-campus to help you locate scholarly resources. The library catalog, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials (available via EBSCOhost), and Oxford Biblical Studies Online are all excellent places to start your search. Keep in mind that scholarly resources are connected to other scholarly resources. If one doesn't quite address your question, check its notes and bibliography and/or use linked metadata in the record to find similar resources.

Step 4: Use of Information
Once you have gathered your resource(s), engage in the reading stage. Read for purpose: skim, scan, and take notes. Keep track of your sources so they can be correctly cited within your assignment and in your works cited list. As you are reading, ask how these resources are informing your question. If they aren't, then go back and repeat some of the earlier stages.

Step 5: Synthesis
This is the organization and processing stage. Pay particular attention to whether or not there is a difference of scholarly opinion on your question. If so, what seems to be the underlying reason for the difference? Can you identify the basis on which the scholars differ and how it relates to your question? 

Step 6: Evaluation
When you have finished this part of the assignment, take a step back and ask yourself, "How did it go?" Were you able to answer your question, or at least understand it at a deeper level? Do you still have questions that are unanswered? Are there any parts of the process (Step 1 through Step 5) that you would do differently next time? 
Writing Center
Need writing help or coaching?

Our writing coaches can help with any course assignment as well as any other type or project or application you are working on in your place of ministry. We work with you via email, by appointment, or during office hours. You can find us in the Schaff Library Conference Room or click below:
Big6 Steps for Writing an Academic Book Review
Using the Big6 Skills process model approach, here are some steps that may help you work through writing your book review.

Step 1: Task Definition
Read the assignment thoroughly and make sure you understand what the requirements and expectations are. Is there anything you don't understand or aren't sure about? Ask questions!

Step 2: Information Seeking Strategies
What type of information do you need to complete the assignment? Which books are you most interested in from the list of possible titles? Are there additional resources (in this guide or elsewhere) that may help you in preparing to write your review? This step is about brainstorming on what sources you might need to look for and what may help you complete the assignment.
     An important note: while you might think it helpful to read someone else's review of the book you intend to review, it is best to avoid looking at someone else's review of your selected book. This will help you to develop your own independent, scholarly voice.

Step 3: Location and Access
This is when you go to the library and/or look things up on the Internet. You will locate the book your reviewing and any additional resources that you think might be helpful to your process.
     As you do a quick skim of your sources, you may find that they lead you to other sources or that there are additional sources you may need to identify by revisiting Step 2.

Step 4: Use of Information
This is the intense stage of reading the book you are reviewing. If you aren't sure about how to write a book review, this step may also include reading a few book reviews for other books (not the one you are reviewing) to better understand the genre and style. Use the questions in the assignment guidelines to help track your critical engagement with the book as you read.
     As you read the book your are reviewing, you may find it helpful to consult outside sources to round out your knowledge of certain concepts or topics. This is not a research paper, however, and consulting outside sources is not necessary. If you choose to engage in additional research, you will repeat steps 2, 3, and 4. 

Step 5: Synthesis
This is the writing stage. You'll want to organize your notes from reading the book and put them into a book review format. Be sure you understand the preferred format and Chicago/Turabian Style for your references and citations. Most will find it necessary to only cite the book you are reviewing and will not cite additional sources. It is a good idea to draft your book review several days before the due date to allow yourself time to reread it and revise it before turning it in. 

Step 6: Evaluation
When you have finished the assignment, take a step back and ask yourself, "How did it go?" Are you happy with what you are turning in? Do you still have questions that are unanswered? Are there any parts of the process (Step 1 through Step 5) that you would do differently next time? What have you learned about the course material, book reviews, writing, and your own creative process?
 
Online Resources for Writing Book Reviews
"Writing Theological Book Reviews" by the librarians at Trinity College in the University of Toronto is a comprehensive guide for writing book reviews. It breaks the process down into four parts: prepare to read and review, read the book, organize your thoughts, and write the review.

A Sample Book Review can be found on McAfee School of Theology's website. This student paper may provide a helpful glimpse into one way a theological book review can be formatted for a seminary class. Please note that this is a sample from another school and the requirements of your assignment at LTS may differ greatly. This sample uses the Chicago style for references.
How to Find Book Reviews
Looking at published book reviews may also be helpful as you prepare for this assignment. Here's how to find a book review through the ATLA Religion Database.

Book Reviews in ATLA Religion Database
1. Go to the Databases page

2. Click ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials

3. Enter your search parameters (keyword, journal title, publication date, etc.) or leave them blank, and do two additional things:
a) select "Review" under Publication Type on the bottom left of the Limit Your Results box.
b) check the box next to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals"

4. Execute the search to see your results