On Safari! Finding and using information

Information universe

In Everyday uses of information we listed a lot of types of information which might be of use for your studies but, where are they to be found? Now we will look at how they all fit into the bigger picture of the information universe.
Think of yourself at the centre of a huge map of places where information might be found. You might divide it up as in the diagram below.

Try this:

Mary is a student on a higher education course with the Open University called S802 (the Public Understanding of Science) and she has decided to carry out a project on issues surrounding Genetically Modified (GM) foods.

Her initial task, suggested by her tutor, was ‘go and think about the kinds of information you are likely to need’. As she is fairly new to the topic she thinks she may need to start from scratch and try and gain a broad overview.

Which of the types of information listed below will be relevant to Mary's task? Look at the list, and write down the ones you think would be relevant.

  • News
  • Ideas and opinions
  • Research results
  • Theory
  • Everyday information
  • Statistics
  • History
  • Experience
  • Advice
  • Technical information

A single project can require a range of different kinds of information. If you go back to the table of information sources and think about where she might start to look, you can see that there are lots of sources of information Mary could use.

For example, starting at the middle of the diagram with herself, she could write down all the knowledge she already has about GM foods. Then she could go to her university library, or access it on line and check the articles and books they have there about the topic. Next, she could go to any local companies that are in her area, which produce or use GM foods. She could then look at national newspapers and journals to see if they have articles on the subject, and finally could do a search on the Internet to find other sources of information.

So, you can see that by using the diagram and moving outwards from the middle, you can strategically search for information on any topic. To find out how you can use all the information you have found, go to Using Information.

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