How to Analyze Information A step-by step guide to Life’s most valuable skill
Information Information is like water. It is vital, & we cannot survive without it. But if too much pours over us- we drown. To keep from drowning in information we must learn to use it properly. That means figuring out WHAT the information is telling us.
It isn’t the information itself we use to make decisions but rather the KNOWLEDGE within the information. This is why we must know how to ANALYZE To get information you must reach inside the information to grasp the knowledge it contains.
Step 1: Figure Out Where You Are You cannot make sense of info unless you know where you are when you look at it. This isn't about geography. Figure out where you are metaphorically. For literature analysis this means asking yourself: Is this a timed write, extended essay, a poem, excerpt from book? Is the literature unknown or known? The answers will help you with step 2
Step 2 : Be Sure You’re Seeing Clearly When dealing with information, clear does not mean obvious. We tend to see thru prisms- intellectual prisms that distort our view of information ( In politics, this is called ideology) To see clearly you need to have a generally accurate view of whatever person, place, organization, situation, issue or literature you are looking at
For literature analysis ask yourself -who is the author -what is the time frame -where is the the place ( geographic) -what is the issue/situation - who is speaking? ( author or someone else)
Step 3:Decide What You Need to Decide “The Question is more important than the answer.” If you don’t ask the right question, you cannot possibly get the right answer. Decide what you need to decide. Sometimes this takes time
For literature analysis ask yourself SPECIFIC questions about the text Write them down Can’t think of any? Then you can’t possibly begin to write anything about the literature. Look for clues in the text. Repetitive words/phrases, tone, diction capitalization, metaphors/similes, POV, allusion, ( yes, the aspects/features) Now, can you ask specific questions?
Step 4: Determine What You Need to Know Once you have decided what you’re going to decide, the next step is to make a list of the information you’ll need to make the decision. Just do your best to make a list of necessary info, and if you leave something out- well, you can get it later. For lit. analysis make a list of what you know
Step 5: Collect Your Information Make a list of info you are going to need, and next to it, write down the most reliable source to get it. Remember, not all items of information for a decision are equally important. For example. You can make a lasagna without oregano but you can’t make it without the pasta. For lit. analysis consult your: notes, dictionary, definitions, etc
Step 6: Turn the Information Into Knowledge You must process the information you’ve collected into an idea that you can use to make a decision. This is an intellectual process Your objective is to understand what the information means to you in light of the specific decisions you’re facing. Look at the facts What happens if you get conflicting facts? Usually one is wrong, and one is right. If both facts are accurate, then vet out what you are not seeing, reading, understanding. Look for patterns! Seeing patterns is how we make sense of information By studying the information you have collected until you have determined the facts and seen the patterns it contains, you have turned raw material into a finished product. You have turned information into knowledge.
For lit. analysis look for the patterns in repetitions, structure, tone, diction, metaphors etc If something is conflicting is it because the literature has irony or paradox?
Step 7: Add the Final Ingredient Your own judgment Judgment is the sum total of who you are- the combined product of your character, personality, instincts and knowledge In Lit analysis this would be your thesis statement. The subject, opinion & plan. Ready for some practice?