An information need is a gap between what you know and what you need to know to solve a problem or answer a question.
Understanding your information needs is a critical skill in today’s digital age. It is important to determine what information we need, and how to find it efficiently and effectively. Whether we are students working on a research assignment, or professionals trying to make important business decisions, understanding our information needs is the first step in finding the information that is most relevant and useful to us.
In this section, we will consider:
Checking the weather, catching a bus, defining a new word, applying for a job – these tasks all rely upon our ability to find, access, and use information effectively. Information seeking at university isn’t about developing entirely new skills but adapting the skills you already have to new situations.
We often associate finding information with summative assignments, but you’ll probably spend a lot of time exploring, browsing, questioning, synthesising, and digesting information way before essays have even crossed your mind. In life and study, we seek information for one or more of the following reasons:
Recognising the function of the information you’re looking for can help you to decide what you need, and how you might find it.
To define your information need, you must:
Before attempting to search, ask yourself the following questions:
Complete the matching task below to consolidate your understanding. Match the information-seeking task to the most suitable solution.