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Information Literacy Research Skill Building: Producers, Types, Formal / Informal

This guide contains information literacy instructional materials based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

Producers, Types, Formal / Informal

Producers, Types, Formal / Informal



In addition to understanding various disciplinary perspectives on issues you should also explore the possible producers of information about any topic. If we continue with our example of the economic development, the environment and the Pacific Northwest, we will quickly realize that any number of organizations and individuals might have an interest in the topic.

(Some) Producers of Information
Government agencies (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, )
Congress (hearings on federal land use & and economic development)
Research institutes and societies (both nonpartisan and blatantly biased)
Community and regional organizations (local organizations and agencies and their efforts to deal with economic development and the environment)
Scholars and researchers at colleges and universities for in-depth scientific studies, quantitative and qualitative research.


Think about the types of information you could draw on while researching your topic. Previously, we discussed several types of information, including bibliographic (available from indexes or databases), full text (books, journal articles, research reports), numeric (statistics), graphical (maps, charts, pictures), and multimedia (combinations of other types, sometimes with sound added, with linkages presenting an integrated whole).

This schema, when combined with the producers of information, should help you identify possible types of sources for research Pacific Northwest's environment admidst economic growth over the last 30 years.

Information Types
Bibliographic and full-text Indexes and databases for Congressional hearings, and executive agency reports.
Statistical sources published by appropriate agencies and departments (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency).
Maps, charts, and pictures produced by agencies and other groups showing commercial zoning, investment data, land surveys, and environmental studies.
Interviews or editorials by private citizens about their perceptions and experiences living in the PNW.


Finally, consider whether you will be needing mostly formal information , sources (i.e. journals and text that are easily obtain from the library), or whether you will need other more informal sources. An informal source is an individual or organization whose area of expertise is that particular topic. This information can be obtained by interviews, letters, email, or phone calls. Of course, you may need a combination of both formal and informal sources to identify the full range of information. Keep in mind that informal sources are an excellent complement to formal sources when the latter cannot supply crucial information.

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