Summary

In this module, we looked at the concepts of information, information literacy, and research.
  • Regardless of how we define it, what we all know about information is that there is a lot of it. By some estimates, the amount of available information doubles about every four years, with digital content doubling every 18 months, especially since the advent of the Internet in the 1990s.
  • Information Literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."
  • Research is the process of gathering, evaluating, and interpreting information or data to answer a question or solve a problem.
We reviewed various characteristics, types, and formats of information.
  • Factual Information is usually brief, provides indisputable answers to specific questions. and no explanation or analysis is needed. Analytical information analyzes and interprets facts to form an opinion or come to a conclusion. The primary questions answered with analytical information are why? or how?
  • Subjective information is one person's opinion. It can be based on fact, but it is one person's interpretation of that fact. Objective information reviews many points of view and is intended to be unbiased.
  • Always look at the publication date of a source and think critically about whether you need the most current information, historical information, or both.
  • Some resources are scholarly (or academic); others are popular (or general interest). In most cases, your professors will require that you find scholarly resources.
  • For journals, the most scholarly articles will be those that have gone through a review process before being published. These articles are PEER-REVIEWED or REFEREED.
  • It's important to know the difference between journals, magazines, and trade publications.
  • A primary source is original, firsthand information. It hasn't been interpreted, analyzed, condensed, or changed. A source that is one or more steps removed from the original research or event is considered a secondary source. Different disciplines use primary and secondary sources differently.
  • When you identify an information source, it is important to note its format. For items not readily available electronically, you may need to plan ahead to get these most valuable sources for your research.
We learned how information is disseminated after an event occurs and after a new idea occurs to a researcher.
  • Information about important events usually moves from the media and social networking sites, to newspapers, to magazines, to journals, to books, to reference materials.
  • Ideas usually move from the informal "Invisible College," to research reports or conference papers, to journal articles, to books, to reference materials.

Having an understanding of the basics of information should help you with your information needs throughout your life and especially while you're a student. Identifying your information need, knowing what type of information will meet that need, and knowing where in the cycle of publishing you can find it is a good start.


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