Skip to Main Content

Information retrieval and use

Information retrieval process

Information retrieval is often a continuous process during which you will consider, reconsider and refine your research problem, use various different information resources, information retrieval techniques and library services and evaluate the information you find. The figure below implies that the stages follow each other during the process, but in reality they are often active simultaneously and you usually will repeat some stages during the same information retrieval process.


information-seeking process

Source: Aalto University Library. Guide to information retrieval.

The different stages of the information retrieval process are:

  • Problem / topic: an information need occurs when more information is required to solve a problem
  • Information retrieval plan: define your information need and choose your information resources, retrieval techniques and search terms
  • Information retrieval: perform your planned information retrieval (information retrieval techniques)
  • Evaluating the results: evaluate the results of your information retrieval (number and relevance of search results)
  • Locating publications: find out where and how the required publication, e.g. article, can be acquired
  • Using and evaluating the information: evaluate the final results of the process (critical and ethical evaluation of the information and information resources)