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Information Essentials: What is information?

What is information?

Information is knowledge about a particular subject, issue, event or process. Information can be obtained from various sources: you can be told information, for example through a lecture or a television program, or you can find information through your own research.

Information is not only essential for your studies but to help navigate your daily lives, from finding your way to university in the morning to writing an essay, or getting the right ingredients for a recipe, conducting an experiment, renting a house, filling in a job application form, exam revision and for many, many other tasks.


What are the different types of information?

It is important that you know the different types of information so you can choose the right one to use for your assignments.

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These are sources that have been created as a result of a rigorous research process and then reviewed by other scholars before they are published.

What it's useful for...
  • University assignments
  • Academic or other kinds of research
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Scholarly books
  • Academic conference papers
  • Published research data sets
  • Academic book reviews

These are sources written or created for an audience outside the academic community such as the general public.

What it's useful for...
  • General knowledge
  • Everyday purposes
  • As data to analyse
  • News
  • General websites
  • Blogs
  • Social Media posts
  • Fiction books
  • Popular non-fiction books
  • Government documents and publications

These are sources where the author has witnessed firsthand the events they are writing about.

What it's useful for...
  • Scientific, historical or social research
  • Data analysis
  • Research reports
  • Personal journals, letters, etc.
  • Public speeches
  • Audio / video recordings
  • Photographs / artworks
  • Literary works e.g. poetry, novels, plays
  • Artefacts
  • Statistical Record

These are sources where the author is reporting on something that someone else saw and has written about.

What it's useful for...
  • Understanding how people interpreted the event
  • Understanding the different issues that are relevant in the study of the event
  • Journal articles
  • Academic books such as history books, textbooks, etc.
  • Encyclopaedias
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Western Sydney University. (2017). Types of sources.

See Also

University of South Australia Study Help: Scholarly Sources Explained