Information, data, and media literacies

This section covers the essential skills you need for the huge array of information available in today's globally connected world. Sharpen your information, data, and media literacy skills and you'll be better at detecting bias, assessing accuracy, and making positive use of the information sources that are relevant to your university studies.

‘Choose your path’ to digital literacy with the interactive module below, or scroll down to browse other topics.

Access Digital Literacy Module 2 Sizing up the Web: determining fact versus fiction 

Sizing up the Web: determining fact versus fiction

(5-10 min to complete)

Information literacy

As a learner, to be information literate means that you:

  • are able to identify a need for certain information, and
  • have the critical awareness and skills to find, evaluate, interpret, and apply information that is relevant to the situation, and
  • are able to effectively manage and ethically share that information for appropriate purposes, now and in the future.

(adapted from the ANZ Information Literacy Framework (opens in a new window) (PDF, 406 kB), p.3)

The Western Sydney University Library (opens in a new window) can assist you in locating appropriate sources of 'scholarly' information. There are many different types of sources (opens in a new window)(PDF, 87 kB) available through library databases and on the open web, so you should always carefully evaluate these for currency, relevance and possible bias.

Referring (with correct acknowledgement) to the research of others in your assignments, coursework, and own research helps to strengthen your understanding and demonstrate that you have read widely about a topic or issue.

Data literacy

Data literacy (opens in a new window) is similar to information literacy, in that it encompasses the knowledge and skills to find or collect, manage, and interpret data. Data is sometimes called 'raw' information because it's just the facts, without any analysis or interpretation having taken place. It's important to be aware, though, that the act of collecting data (opens in a new window) could be influenced by economic, technological, or political factors so it is still important to evaluate all data carefully.

Media literacy

Media literacy also covers skills in critical interpretation of information. There's a lot of information out there, in lots of media formats, and anybody can publish material to the Internet without anyone else checking to see if it's accurate. That's why it's important to recognise bias when you see it, and sort the fact from the fiction.

Media literate students should also be able to choose an appropriate medium to communicate effectively to a particular target audience. Identifying the purpose of a piece of communication, and adjusting the tone to suit the intended recipients of the message, is integral to the success of any communication effort, whether you're sending an email or producing a short film. When it comes to academic work, you can learn more about the purpose, structure, and tone of different assignment genres in the Assessment Guides section of this site.

Social media literacy

A key aspect of media literacy is understanding of the nature of social media, and what constitutes appropriate behaviour on these massive, influential, and sometimes unpredictable information channels. It's worthwhile reviewing the following guide to ensure your social media interactions remain professional.

Drop into a campus library (opens in a new window) and ask Library staff or chat with an Online Librarian (opens in a new window).