Lesson 6. Question Analysis: Who Contributes Information?


  • There are identifiable sources for all information.
  • These sources have their own processes and motivations for information creation.
  • Communicators need to use a variety of sources based on the context and content of their message task.
  • Sources can play different roles and serve as different types of contributors depending on the context.
  • Different disciplines of knowledge contribute different perspectives and focus on a topic.
  • Libraries collect and make accessible information from all the contributors we’ve identified.
  • Libraries have different characteristics and contents.


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • identify the broad characteristics of public-sector institutional, private-sector institutional, scholarly, journalistic and informal contributors of information for messages.
  • understand the nature, characteristics and limitations of information available from these contributors and sources.
  • identify the relevant disciplines of knowledge that can contribute to an information strategy.
  • identify the specific perspective a discipline of knowledge provides on a topic.
  • identify the types and characteristics of libraries that might contribute to an information strategy.


Continuing with the archery analogy from Lesson 4, when you are deciding the best way to hit your target, you need to choose the appropriate type of arrow. Good archers understand that some arrows are made of carbon and are very light but shatter easily; aluminum arrows break less easily and are stiffer; wooden arrows use feathers rather than plastic for the vanes at the back end and should not be used with high-power bows. Each arrow type is chosen for its characteristics and the type of target the archer is trying to hit.

Similarly, there are many different possible contributors to an information search for a message task. One of the key analysis tasks at the start of your information strategy process is to brainstorm the possible contributors that might meet your information needs. This lesson will outline the types of contributors that are useful for communications professionals, how and why they create the information they create, and some of the types of message tasks they can help you accomplish.

Where Information Comes From: An Overview of Contributors

Whether you are seeking a specific fact, a good anecdote to illustrate your story, background information about the product or service you are advertising, or promotional or persuasive publications to understand different points of view, you will need to know how to find, and use, the information provided by public-sector and private-sector institutional sources, scholarly sources, journalistic sources and informal sources.
Understanding how, and why,  each of these types of sources create information is one of the most important skills you will need as you start your information strategy. 


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Information Strategies for Communicators Copyright © 2015 by Kathleen A. Hansen and Nora Paul is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.