6. Selecting Good Information: Categorizing Information by Purpose
Thinking about the reason information is produced can also be helpful for determining whether or not it will fit your particular information need. If we categorize this way here are some categories we might consider:
Facts are useful to inform or make an argument
Opinions are useful to sway or make an argument
Objective information reflects a finding, or multiple perspectives
Subjective information provides one person or organization's perspective or interpretation. Subjective information can be meant to distort or it can reflect educated and informed thinking.
Why Do these Categories Matter?
- There is no tertiary source, other than a highly vetted, human-made source, that can help you choose between these types. Sorting out information by these categories generally requires a careful read to understand which of these types you are selecting.
- These distinctions become very important when you need to make a credible argument (see Making an Argument tutorial). Who will buy your argument based only on opinion or subjective information?
- These distinctions become very important when you are trying to understand a perspective. Opinions and subjective language can reveal a lot about a person or organization's perspective.
Pick the best purpose for statements in What's Your Purpose?