On Safari! Finding and using information

Everyday uses of information

Let us look now at the types of information we all use in our personal lives, our work and our studies.

Try this:

First, what about the information involved in living through a typical day? Take last Saturday, for instance, what were the decisions you made that day – large and small?

Think about a few of these decisions carefully. What information did you need to access in order to tackle each of them?

Think about this:

In some cases the information required may have been instantly available to you from your existing knowledge. For example, if your first decision of the day was what to have for breakfast, you may or may not have had a detailed knowledge of the contents of your kitchen cupboards.

In other cases you may have had to go elsewhere for information. What sources did you use for finding out the information?

Types of information

Sometimes we need information for very specific purposes e.g. when studying we may need it in order to prepare an assignment, to help revise for an exam or just to give us specialist knowledge of a particular aspect of the programme. Let's look at the information you might need to support your higher level study. You may need different types of information at one time or another. The categories listed below will give you a useful framework for thinking about your information needs:

  • News (What's the latest on X? What is happening about Y?)
  • Ideas and opinions (What do people think about X?)
  • Research results (What does the latest research tell us about X?)
  • Theoretical analysis/theory (What are the different theoretical perspectives on Y?)
  • Everyday practicalities (e.g. train timetables, telephone numbers, maps)
  • Facts and figures (How many cases of X were there last year?)
  • History or background (When did X start? What happened?)
  • People's experience (What is it like to suffer from X? Or to use Y service?)
  • Advice or help (Can anyone help me with my work on Y?)
  • Technical information (How to mend Z)
  • Legal information

You can probably think of others. To find out where this information is have a look at Information Universe.

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