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iMU at Mercyhurst University: Understanding Information

What is Information?


Information is defined as:


"1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; 2. knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc."
("information." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 15 Dec. 2010. <>.)

Information includes both facts and opinions. We are constantly bombared by information through television, the Internet, newspapers, billboards, conversations, etc. What is important is how we use information and how it becomes meaningful to us.

10 Bad Habits for Listening

1. Calling the subject dull

2. Criticizing the speaker

3. Getting overstimulated

4. Listening only for facts

5. Trying to outline everything

6. Faking attention

7. Tolerating distraction

8. Choosing only what's easy

9. Letting emotion-laden words get in the way

10. Wasting the differential between speech and thought speed

--Nichols, R.G. (1960). What can be done about listening. The Supervisor's Notebook, Scott, Foresman and Co. 22(1).

For deeper explanation, see the full text here at Darmouth College.

Types of Sources

You will probably want to use articles from scholarly, substantive, and popular publications to help you gain a complete understanding of your topic. 

Scholarly sources are produced by scholars or experts whose credentials can be evaluated. This type of source is usually aimed at other scholars or experts in the field and it provides specialized and discipline specific information, often reporting on original research and experimentation. 

Substantive sources are produced by scholars, industry practitioners, or credentialed journalists and are geared toward an educated audience. They provide credible information of relevance to an educated and concerned public or niche market.

Popular sources are created by journalists, staff writers, or freelance writers. This type of information is aimed at the general public. It usually provides a broad overview of topics a general readership will find entertaining. 


Types of Information

You may be asked to use a number of different kinds of information including Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary. 

Primary Information consists of original materials--a first-hand account of something (diaries, works of literature, interviews, etc.) This information has not been filtered through interpretation.

Secondary Information is written after something has happened and has the benefit of hindsight (books, biographies, journal articles). This information includes interpretations and evaluations of primary information.

Tertiary Information is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary information (almanacs, fact books, encyclopedias).

Active Listening