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Slide 1 Defining an Information Problem. Slide 2 An information problem An MP comes to the library with a problem… Analysis of the domestic solid waste.

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Presentation on theme: "Slide 1 Defining an Information Problem. Slide 2 An information problem An MP comes to the library with a problem… Analysis of the domestic solid waste."— Presentation transcript:

1 Slide 1 Defining an Information Problem

2 Slide 2 An information problem An MP comes to the library with a problem… Analysis of the domestic solid waste management system in Sakubva - Mutare. But she only tells you I want something written about solid wastes

3 Slide 3 The problem Imagine that your library… Has the information sources requested by the MP Has effective locating & finding tools Has qualified and self motivated librarians, researchers, IT personnel etc… Why does the MP fail to get the information she wants from the library?

4 Slide 4 Articulating an information problem Before you can find information, you need to clearly understand the problem you are seeking to solve. There are three steps to articulating an information problem: 1.Understanding the topic –What are different aspects of the topic? –What terminology is used? –What are related topics? 2.Assessing information need –What is the information for? –What do I know already? –What do I need to know? 3.Formulating search strategy –Where will I look? –What keywords/search terms will I use?

5 Slide 5 Why define an information problem? What are the benefits of clearly defining the information problem before starting to search for information?

6 Slide 6 1. Understanding the topic You need to start by finding general information about a topic –Definitions –General knowledge This assists you to shape, formulate the topic –Title of your topic or research area –Statements –Questions This initial research can help you to create terms/words to assist in developing search queries You can also find lists or links to sources relevant to answer the question

7 Slide 7 What sources can you use to familiarise yourself with a new topic? 1. Understanding the topic (cont.)

8 Slide 8 Reference sources Web based/print reference tools –Encyclopaedias –Dictionaries –Thesauri –Directories

9 Slide 9 Databases Online Catalogues – for titles or subject areas Online abstract databases – for abstracts, titles or subject areas –Biological & environmental research abstract databases (

10 Slide 10 Internet resources Search Engines –Google –Alta-Vista Information gateways –ELDIS ( –Intute ( –www virtual library general ( –www virtual library – environment (

11 Slide 11 Promotional materials Guides Brochures Newsletters (e.g. UNEP newsletters) Fliers

12 Slide 12 Individuals Colleagues Subject experts Researchers Consultants Academics Librarians –Reference librarians –Subject librarians

13 Slide 13 2. Assessing information needed There are four steps to assessing information needed: 1.Determine the purpose of the information –Is it for a specific purpose (such as making a case on a certain issue)? –Is it for a definition? –Is it for answering a particular question? 2.What sort of information are you looking for? –Specific information, e.g. a fact, figure or date –Quotation 3.Information already known –What do you know about this topic/question? 4.Information not known –What dont you know about this topic/question?

14 Slide 14 Assessing information need exercise Work in pairs One of you is an MP who wants information on universities in your country. You will need to use your imagination to decide what information you need and why! The second person should interview the MP to find out specifically what information s/he needs Now swap roles- the new MP wants information on Saudi Arabia. Again use your imagination to decide what information and why.

15 Slide 15 3. Developing a search strategy It makes it easier to search for information from electronic sources It provides an understanding of a subject and related disciplines Keywords/Search terms can be used to search for information and later to categorise information and sources

16 Slide 16 Identifying keywords/ search terms Categories –Words which describe a group which your topic is a member of Subtopics –Words which subdivide the topic Synonyms –Words with the same (or similar) meaning. Related terms –Words related to the topic

17 Slide 17 Mind mapping A mind map is a special form of a web diagram for exploring knowledge and gathering and sharing information It is a process of writing down a central or main idea and thinking up new and related ideas which branch out from the central one It can be a useful way to develop search terms

18 Slide 18 Non-soluble waste Refuse garbage Sludgetrash Mining residues Discarded materials Solid Waste

19 Slide 19 Exercise: Mind maps Create a mind map of one of the following topics: –Malaria –The World Cup –Reggae music –Africa

20 Slide 20 Hints in developing concepts Brainstorm: this will aid to access prior knowledge Use information tools/sources to explore new information and relationships: consult these before developing your concept map Be creative: creativity helps your memory Don't get stuck in one area. If you dry up in one area go to another branch Put ideas down as they occur, wherever they fit. Don't judge or hold back

21 Slide 21 Questions ?

22 Slide 22 The presentation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to modify and use this presentation for non-commercial purposes providing you retain the attribution of all images and credit INASP. For further information please contact

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