Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom (DIKW) Model


The selected theoretical framework to address nursing and clinical informatics is Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom (DIKW) Model. Concepts of wisdom, knowledge, information and data are the information science and library building blocks. These terms were initially put together into a one formula in 1989 by Russell Lincoln Ackoff. Ackoff postulated a hierarchy where wisdom lay at the top, and others that include understanding, knowledge, information, and data follows in that order. Moreover, he approximated that about 40% of mind of a human contains data, 10% contain understanding 30% contains information, 20% contain knowledge, and practically no wisdom. This Phrasing permits us to perceive his prototypical as pyramid, and actually it has been copied ever since. This paper reviews the Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom (DIKW) Model author, the major construct in the model and the applicability and relevance of the model and its major constructs to the health information technology and nursing profession (Bernstein, 2009).

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Biography of DIKW Model Author

The DIKW model was initially put together by Russell Lincoln Ackoff. Ackoff was a significant early advocate of the operations research field, and remained a determined advocate for vision of expansion in the field he worked in. He was a leading American expert in system theory management. He in 1957 published a book titled “Operations research” which was co-authored by Leonard Arnoff, and C. West Churchman. THis book acted as a pioneering text which assisted in the field definition. He was also regarded as the system thinking community dean. Ackoff had a bachelor degree from the University of Penneslvania in Architecture Doctorate of Philosophy in science from the same university, and Doctorate of Science from Lancaster University (Curious Cat, 2017). He acted as a leader in various institutions and universities positions and also published various articles and books. His latest professional positions included the Wharton School Professor Emeritus, and the Institute for Interactive Management Chairman of Interact. His work in education, consulting and research has engaged over 50 governmental agencies and 250 corporations in the U.S. and international countries. He published more than 150 articles in different journals and co-authored or authored 20 books (Curious Cat, 2017).  He worked on Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom (DIKW) model when he was working as a former management science professor and management consultant at the Wharton school majoring in organizational theory and operational research. During this time he wrote an article articulating what is currently commonly referred to as the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom hierarchy (DIKW). This article was initially given as international Society for General System Research presidential address in 1988. This is when he was acting as the fifth president of the Operations Research Society of America where he was a founding member (Bernstein, 2009).

The Major Construct in the Model and the Applicability

Informatics has been defined among the nurses’ core competencies at all levels of operations, and not only for informatics nurses. The DIKW are regarded predominant concepts backing up all of informatics and nursing practices. The concepts of DIKW frequently described as a pyramid, originated in information science and computer, particularly in the knowledge management subspecialty. The DIKW concepts are constructed upon one another, developing in meaning and scope as they turn to increasing sophisticated and abstract. Overlapping or fuzzy boundaries exist at an intersection between every one of the concepts. This section describes the major model constructs which include data, wisdom, knowledge and information.

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Data refers to the DIKW framework smallest unit. They are characteristically regarded as symbols which represent events, objects, as well as their properties. Data is presented in various forms which include pictures, numbers, sentences, or words. Data has been defined as the observation products, as well as discrete fact with limited interpretation. Thus, in isolation a single data piece has no or limited meaning. Data are the kind that is commonly stored in patient records, and they are utilized as a foundation for further discussion, calculation, or reasoning (Matney et al., 2011).


Information refers to data with a meaning. It can be obtained through data processing. Information stands for the ideas and facts which are accessible to be known in a particular context. When data is fit into a context and integrated in a structure, information is generated. Information provides answers to the questions which start with basic phases that include how many, who, when, what, and where. It might be arranged in manners that serve the discipline interests.


Knowledge refers to synthesized information to formalize and identify relationships. Knowledge addresses questions that start with why or how. Although there are various forms of knowledge the two forms of knowledge described in the knowledge management field include explicit and tacit. Tactic knowledge is hard to communicate with other and to summarize. It is context-specific, personal and thus, hard to formalize. Explicit knowledge on the other hand can be formalized and generated, and it is extra amenable to transmitting and encoding in a formal management. Explicit knowledge refers to what systems of knowledge management seek to share, capture, transfer, store, and codify. Information transformation to knowledge in information system and nursing can be intellectualized as a field of increasing understanding. Knowledge is developed by discovering relationships and patterns between forms of information(Bermstein, 2009).


Wisdom is regarded as the suitable knowledge use to solve and manage human problems. It refers to a kind of ethics which involves knowing why certain things should not or should be carried out in practice. It is an action-oriented, reciprocalprocess. Wisdom entail identifying what is most significant, by making discrepancies among alternatives. It contains the experience application, knowledge, intelligence, and creativity, as arbitrated by value toward common good achievement (Matney et al., 2011).


The DIKW gives nursing informatics foundation framework which is significant for the extensive nursing community and in giving a foundation for connecting practice and theory. Nursing informatics facilitates DIKW integration to support nurses, patients as well as other providers in making decision in all settings and roles. This support is attained via the utilization of information technology, information processes, and information structures. The Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom (DIKW) model offers an epistemological interaction foundation between e-patients and clinicians which can utilize Gadamarian hermeneutics and constructivism. DIKW contains strong epistemological basis for connecting practice to theory and defining basic tiered scaffolding in data management and information technology application (Gee et al., 2012).

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