Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Information is input that is processed and added to knowedge.

explanatory context

Information is that which informs, i.e. that which acts to induce reflection, awareness or inspiration. Information is usually the ordered collection of items of data.


Information shuld be distinguished from data, which are disconnected units of empirical evidence, and knowledge which is contextualisation information.


In information technology the term information is used rather loosely to mean both data and knowledge as well as information.

analytical review

Sveiby (1994) wrote:

The word information is derived from Latin informare which means "give form to". The etymology thus connotes an imposition of structure upon some indeterminate mass. Allen & Selander (1985) have analysed how the word is used in Swedish language and find that this is probably the most widely used meaning of the word. Most people tend to think of information as disjointed little bundles of "facts". In the Oxford definition of the word it is connected both to knowledge and communication.

Knowledge communicated concerning some particular fact, subject or event; that of which one is apprised or told; intelligence, news.

The way the word information is used can refer to both "facts" in themselves and the transmission of the facts....

If information is seen as having "meaning" is it not the same as knowledge? By building on the notion that structure contains more information than chaos it is often suggested that by "engineering" information or by "adding value" or by selecting, interpreting and updating information, it can be transformed into knowledge.

associated issues


related areas

See also

Researching the Real World Section 1.4


Allen, S. & Selander, E., 1985, Information om information. Lund, Studentlitteratur.

Sveiby, K-E, 1994, 'What is Informaion?', updated 31 December 1998, available, accessed 23 January 2013, still available 22 December 2016, 'not found' 6 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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