Why is it important for the average professional to learn how to analyze information?
How to Analyze Information: A Step-by-Step Guide to Life's Most Vital SkillThere is an explosion of information that's available to everyone, making people feel overwhelmed. How can you gather, manage and organize information? What does the information mean?
Are patterns and trends in the information? When I had the SpeakPipe plugin on my website, a college studentasked me how to evaluate information.
In this post, there is a simple process that teaches youhow to evaluate information – how to gather, organize and manage information.
Introduction: How to Analyze Information
In the age of the Me-Too movement and Black Live Matters, it's important to become knowledgeable about many topics. Being ignorant about important issues is no longer acceptable. I read a lot, and to make sure that I'm reading diversely, I need to analyze book details. I created a book tracker template to keep track of what I'm reading. And the template allows me to analyze the information. In case you're interested, the Book Tracker is available for sale on my website.
Recently, I took the data analytics course that Lighthouse Lab offers. For the final project, I downloaded a list of 100 books Amazon recommends that you read in a lifetime and analyzed it. As I suspected, the books on the list are written by very male and white authors. This is a simple example of how data analysis can help you.
Lighthouse Labs Data Analytics Course: 4 Types of Data Analysis
- Descriptive: Understand what happened.
- Diagnostic: Why something happened.
- Predictive: What is likely to happen.
- Prescriptive: What you need to do.
Steps to Data Analysis Learned in Data Analytics Course
- Ask: Identify the problem and define your hypothesis. For my final project, my hypothesis was that for Amazon's list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, the major was authors were white male.
- Collect: Identify sources of data both internal and external. I got the list of data for my project from Amazon's website.
- Clean: Clean and remove unnecessary data from data set. For my project, I didn't have to remove data from the data set. However, I had to add data such as gender and ethnicity.
- Interpret: Visualize and Interpret the data. I used Excel to analyze and visualize the data. I interpreted the data during the presentation.
World Economic Forum 2022 Skills Outlook
Additionally, every two years or so, the World Economic Forum does its future of work survey. In their 2022 Skills Outlook, there are four sets of skills among the 10 where knowing how to evaluate information would be handy:
- Analytical thinking and innovation;
- Critical thinking and analysis; Complex problem-solving;
- Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation; and
- Systems analysis and evaluation.
This means that it's more important now than ever to hone your skill to evaluate and analyze information.
- Analytical thinking and innovation.
- Active learning and learning strategies.
- Creativity, originality, and initiative.
- Technology design and programming.
- Critical thinking and analysis.
- Complex problem-solving.
- Leadership and social influence.
- Emotional intelligence.
- Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation.
- Systems analysis and evaluation.
Have you read?
I want to tell you a story about why it is important to analyze information. Several years ago, a client asked me to verify some information and find the source. They wanted to properly quote the information. I learned that you should find at least three independent sources. I spent a lot of time trying to find the source for this information. Everyone was saying the same thing. But no one was saying where it came from.
Finally, I found someone to contact. She was very responsive, but much to my dismay, she told me that my client was the source of the information. I explained to her that was not the case and my client asked me to verify the information.
I never did find the original source of the information. That's not important for this article. But I wanted to demonstrate that part of analyzing information is checking sources and accuracy of information. Do you now see how important that is? By the way, I first wrote this post in 2009, before one of the books I mentioned was published. I added the books only because there are folks who will want more information. And a book will give more information than a post.
However, please read this post because I have some very good information in it that will help you.
Please read the Review of How to Analyze Information by Herbert E. Meyer, and the Review of the Next Big Thing. (They complement this post!)
Why It's Important to Analyze Information?
How to analyze information is something that many professionals think about because they are overloaded with information. Every day you are bombarded with problems to solve and decisions to make. The quality of your solutions and decisions is only as good as the information they are based on.
With so much information at your fingertips, the question, “How to analyze the information” for best results becomes more important.
- How can you organize the information in a systematic way?
- What does the information mean?
- How do you decide which information is important and which is not?
Another point I'd like to make, is that with the rapidly changing world that we live in, to remain relevant, requires professionals to learn continuously. Part of that means reading books to get the skills needed for future jobs. Knowing how to analyze the new information is important. What does the information mean? You cannot attain knowledge without understanding. Data analysis helps you to understand and make sense of the information. And knowledge is useless if you cannot apply it.
As a professional with over 20 years of experience in research, I constantly have to analyze the data gathered. So the information requested by my client is streamlined and not overwhelming. I have to filter the information by deciding which information is essential and which is non-essential. Here is a simple process that could help you.
Have you read?
How to Make Decisions Better: Analyzing Information
How to Spot important Information
Spotting Patterns: Getting the Most from Reading Books
Process: How to Analyze Information
- Decide where you can find the information that you need. The information could be in someone's head, so you may have to interview him/her. Or you may have to develop a survey. If this is the case who would complete it?
- Gather the information from the sources that you identified.
- Quickly skim and scan the information.
- Determine accuracy, relevance and reliability of information. Distinguish between essential and non-essential information.
- Differentiate – is there anything unique about the information?
- Identify propaganda and bias.
- Recognize omissions and faulty logic.
- Recognize interrelationships and themes.
- Connect disparate pieces of information.
- Pay attention to the source of the information.
Step 1. Review the questions
Review the questions generated before the information was gathered.
- Why was this particular information necessary?
- What questions was it supposed to answer?
- What kinds of decisions will be made based on this information?
Renew your understanding of the central issues and key questions. Those questions are critical. The information is usually requested when someone is trying to answer a question, solve a problem or make a decision. People seldom collect information just for the sake of collecting it.
Unanticipated results should not be ignored. Putting information together will often raise important, unforeseen and relevant questions. Note these for future reference. And point them out when presenting the results. In other words, park the information for now.
- Gather all relevant information that has been collected.
- Read through the information with a critical eye.
- While reading the information, keep the following questions in mind:
- Identify the important themes?
- What are the key concepts?
- Were you able to tie the new information to what you already know?
- What meaningful connections can you make with my existing knowledge with past experiences?
How can you rearrange the concepts?
- How are the concepts related?
- Are there any patterns?
- Can you spot trends in the information?
- What is being implied, but not explicitly stated?
- Sort information into parts which belong together.
- Break the information apart and put it back together again, are there some components that are not important?
- Some information may have already been analyzed. Some may be partly analyzed, and some may need analysis.
Going through these steps will make the analysis of the information easier and faster.
How to Evaluate Website Content
Evaluating the Quality of Information
3 Resources to Evaluate Information
Step 3. Decide how to analyze information
The analysis could simply be adding up numbers and averaging them. Or comparing information to examine the relationship of one thing to another or two things together. It could be combining pieces of data in new and interesting ways. Do you have to perform statistical analysis or any other quantitative analysis?Pay attention to the source of the information to maintainthe integrity of the results.
Step 4. How to analyze the information
- Do you have to conduct qualitative or quantitative analysis of the information that you collected?
- Review the notes you took while organizing all the information.
- Look out for biased information and faulty logic.
- Look at the information individually and as a whole, what do you notice?
- Take note of similarities.
- Contrast information by setting two things in opposition to show the differences.
- Relate pieces of information to establish relationships between and among them.
- Combine contradictory pieces of information, what insights can you generate?
- What are the emerging themes?
- Identify gaps in the information, what assumptions can you make?
- Do you have the information you need to solve the problem or make the decision? Do you have the answer to your question(s)? If not you may have to start the process again.
Step 5. Integrate the information
- Put the analyzed parts together in a way that tells the complete story.
- What new insights emerged?
- What is surprising to you?
- How can you use the information?
It is impossible to gather all the information you will ever need. So there are times when you have to make intelligent assumptions.
Pay attention to where you collect your information. Good sources include:
- Government websites
- University sources
- Commercial online databases, which you can readily access from mostpublic libraryportals
- Communitywatch dogagencies
- Reputable consumer groups
These are few of the sources that readily come to mind.
[A few years ago. I took a MOOC on Social Media for Journalists offered by the Knight Center. The teacher, Craig Silverman, for the segment, on verifying content, made me realize that I have not done justice to the section of this post on verifying information. Social media has changed everything. And verification is now more important than ever. With more access to information, comes more hoaxes and misinformation, creating a need to verify images, videos, news…
Here are some important articles from the course:
Next Steps: If You Need to Learn More about How to Analyze Information
In a previous life, I conducted both secondary and primary research. If you need more information than this post contains, here are two books to read. I have read Competitive Intelligence: How to Gather, Analyze, and Use Information to Move Your Business to the Top by Larry Kahaner. And I bought and read How to Analyze Information by Herbert Meyer.
But recently, while searching on Amazon, I foundInformation Systems for Business: An Experiential Approach, which sounds like it could be very useful in learning how to analyze information.
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The most accomplished people use books as problem solving tools. They carve out the time in their schedule to find solutions in the pages of a book. Let me help you to solve your own problems. Additionally, this program helps you to learn valuable career skills. Click the link MoreReads Success Blueprint Accelerator Program to buy.
UPDATE: This was first published in September 2009. Note: If you click on a link and buy something from Amazon, the organization will pay me a small commission!
- Separate facts from opinions.
- Determine the process where the problem exists.
- Analyze company policies and procedures.
- Discuss with team members involved in order to gather more information.
- Define the problem in specific terms.
- Gather all the necessary information required to solve the problem.
These steps and many others fall into three stages of the data analysis process: evaluate, clean, and summarize.What is the process of analyzing information? ›
The process of data analysis, or alternately, data analysis steps, involves gathering all the information, processing it, exploring the data, and using it to find patterns and other insights.What are the 5 basic ways to organize information? ›
- File naming and organization. As research projects progress, the number of files involved tends to grow rapidly. ...
- Data cleaning and tidying. ...
- Data visualization. ...
- Individual consultations.
Data analysis is a process of finding, collecting, cleaning, examining, and modeling data to derive useful information and insights and understand the derived information for data-driven decision-making.What are the four ways of analyzing? ›
- Descriptive Analysis.
- Diagnostic Analysis.
- Predictive Analysis.
- Prescriptive Analysis.
Descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.What does it mean to analyze information? ›
Analyzing information means collecting and integrating multiple pieces of data; researching a problem to understand it fully is the first step in an effective problem-solving process.What is an example of analyzing information? ›
For example, when trying to decide on a restaurant to go to, you think about all of the possible restaurants, compare the restaurants to one another and then choose your favorite. This is the same process you would use to rank information for analyzing information.
When you gather information, organize it and draw conclusions and insights, then you can make better decisions, improve operations, fine-tune technology and so on. Data analysis includes evaluating and recapping information, and it can help us understand patterns and trends.What are different ways or methods of collecting and Analysing information? ›
Some common data collection methods include surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, experiments, and secondary data analysis. The data collected through these methods can then be analyzed and used to support or refute research hypotheses and draw conclusions about the study's subject matter.What are the 4 techniques in organizing information? ›
The various techniques in selecting and organizing information are the brainstorming list, graphic organizer, topic outline, and sentence outline.What are the steps in organizing information? ›
- Chronologically. Chronological order is probably the most straightforward form of organization, as it simply involves ordering information by time. ...
- Order of importance. ...
- Spatial. ...
- Compare and contrast. ...
- Problem and solution. ...
- Cause and effect. ...
- Use folders - group files within folders so information on a particular topic is located in one place.
- Adhere to existing procedures - check for established approaches in your team or department which you can adopt.
- Establish consistent and clear naming practices. ...
- Keep file titles short. ...
- Use consistent file version management. ...
- Create and use a data dictionary to standardize categories and provide a definition around the role of each.
- Regression analysis.
- Monte Carlo simulation.
- Factor analysis.
- Cohort analysis.
- Cluster analysis.
- Time series analysis.
- Sentiment analysis.
Data analytics involves mainly six important phases that are carried out in a cycle - Data discovery, Data preparation, Planning of data models, the building of data models, communication of results, and operationalization.What are the names of the 5 main types of analysis? ›
At different stages of business analytics, a huge amount of data is processed and depending on the requirement of the type of analysis, there are 5 types of analytics – Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive, Prescriptive and cognitive analytics.What are the three 3 methods in collecting data? ›
Under the main three basic groups of research methods (quantitative, qualitative and mixed), there are different tools that can be used to collect data.
The two primary methods for data analysis are qualitative data analysis techniques and quantitative data analysis techniques. These data analysis techniques can be used independently or in combination with the other to help business leaders and decision-makers acquire business insights from different data types.What are the three data techniques? ›
The main techniques for gathering data are observation, interviews, questionnaires, schedules, and surveys.What method is used to organize information? ›
The three common methods of organizing writing are chronological order, spatial order, and order of importance. You need to keep these methods of organization in mind as you plan how to arrange the information you have gathered in an outline.What are the three principles of organizing information? ›
Understand three principles for organizing technical information: Analyze your audience and purpose. Use conventional patterns of organization. Display your organizational pattern prominently in the document.What are the 4 types of organizing? ›
The four types of organizational structures are functional, multi-divisional, flat, and matrix structures.What is the best tool to use for organizing the information *? ›
Trello is the most famous organizing tool of all when it comes to managing your work activities. This application allows you to track and visualize the proper progress of your activities going forward.What is the most common way of organizing data? ›
- Data Scrubbing.
- Charts and Graphs.
- Organization by Category and Attributes.