The concept of ‘Information Need’ was coined in 1962 by an American Information Scientist Robert S. Taylor in his article, “The process of Asking Questions” published in American Documentation. The term information need is often understood as an individual or a group’s desire to locate and obtain information to satisfy a conscious or unconscious need. Rarely mentioned in general literature about need. In the rest of this article, we’re going to discuss types of information need, levels of information need, components of information need, and the conceptualization of an information need based on sense-making approach.

Definition of Information Need:

Some important definitions are being;

“Information needs are often understood as evolving from a vague awareness of something used and us culminating in locating the information that contributes to understanding and meaning” (Kuhlthau-1993)

“Information need is an individual’s condition when he/she wants to improve his/her knowledge” (IGI-Global)

“When considered from a task performance point of view, information needs are requirements for information as they are necessary to fulfill a task” (ISO in Blom-1983)

“Information need is a situation or task which depends on many factors and changes as the person goes from one stage of the task to the next” (Kennedy-1997)

“The term information need, therefore, doesn’t necessarily imply that people are ‘in need of’ information as such but that the use of information can lead to the satisfaction of a more basic need” (Wilson-1981)

From the above definitions, we can say that information need arise when an individual senses a problematic situation or information gap, in which his/her internal knowledge and beliefs: a path towards the satisfaction of his/her goals.

Types of Information Need:

There are mainly four types of information need which are as follows;

  1. General Information Need: This is the information need that everyone needs to know is called general information need. For examples; weather news, emergency news, etc.
  2. Social Information Need: Every society has some rules and regulations. So, the information that is required for social or social welfare is called social information need. For example; the evaluation of society.
  3. Group Information Need: Group information need is required for different kinds of groups. Such information is needed for any group or nation such as; news of awards, sports news, etc.
  4. Individual Information Need: A person needs to know about himself that the demand is individual information needs. A person has an interest in learning about his own things and there are different ways to complete it, who has to know about these mediums is called individual information need.

Levels of Information Need:

Information need goes back to a definition from Tylor’s (1962) article, “The Process of Asking Question” which describes four levels of information need;

  • The actual, but unexpressed, need for information (the visceral need)
  • The conscious, within-brain description of the need (the conscious need)
  • The formal statement of the question (the formalized need)
  • The question as presented to the information system (the compromised need)

Their descriptions are furnished below;

  • The Visceral Need: There is no existence of information that needs to be conscious or unrecognized, such information needs to be remembered by an investigator who has experience. According to the range of search terms, this level can be called a “standard question”. This question represents the information sought by an information seeker in a typical way. This is real but unreleased information needs.
  • Conscious Need: The conscious mental description of an ill-defined area of indecision. At this level, the inquirer might talk to someone else in the field to get an answer.
  • Formalized Need: In this level, a person makes a logical statement about his various questions. This description provides an explanation for the investigator.
  • Compromised Need: In this level, the query is presented to the investigator in a well-ordered information system, the question as presented to the information system.

Components of Information Need:

Every single information need has two types of components which are being;

a. Subject Components: Subject components address the topic of the information need, such as, “prevention of knee injuries in high school athletes” or “the role of patient” education in preventing complications in high-risk pregnancy.

b. Format Components: Format components relate to the type of information needed, such as review articles, books, items published within the last five years, etc. The format can be determined based on the type of information needed (such as cutting-edge information or background knowledge) or by an outside factor (such as a professional requiring research articles).

The conceptualization of an Information need based on sense-making approach:

This involves three contents which are being;

i. Situation: It’s has to identify some questions which are;

  • What was the situation that led you to look for information?
  • What did you feel?

ii. Information Gap: It includes the following questions;

  • What questions did you have your mind?
  • What did you want to find out there?

iii. Information Use: It includes the following questions;

  • How do you think an answer can help (of fall to help) you?
  • What were you try to accumulative?

It is apparent that information need is valuable to gather knowledge to personal demands.

Related Article: Nature of Information need