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Knowledge Management: Elements of Knowledge Management

A guide explaining Knowledge Management, and associated resources

To be competent in knowledge management calls for the integration of experience, knowledge, and self-awareness.

University of Hull, Competence Framework

This page introduces the skills necessary for effective knowledge management. They comprise experience, knowledge and self-awareness. There are links to relevant SkillsGuides, and support.

It is intended to help students and researchers understand what is expected at University, and also in the workplace. It can also help teachers consider which practices to include in their curricula.


What are the elements of knowledge management? 

The main elements of knowledge management are laid out below. On the Knowledge Management Framework page you will find a set of questions and tips to help you develop the required skills and put them into practice.

  • Sourcing, understanding and communicating knowledge
  • Identify and critically assess appropriate sources
  • Understand, question and clearly communicate knowledge to a diverse audience
  • Practice effective, ethical information management
  • Communicate with a diverse audience in person and through written, digital & media technologies professionally and confidently

Skills necessary for effective knowledge management 

Below are the skills that are required to be competent in Knowledge Management. It looks like a long list but everything is inter-related. For example, becoming efficient at referencing helps you keep track of your reading, supports your writing, ensures ethical information use, and saves time, especially if you also learn how to use referencing software.

You can undertake independent activities to help grow competence in these areas, and you will also find them embedded in the ways you are taught and assessed. Follow the links to find relevant support and guidance provided by the Skills Team in the University Library. There is a lot more to explore at their site.

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Identify sources

Think about which information sources are available, and which are most relevant to your needs. Are there any clues in your assignment or project brief that help you identify the types of sources you should use?

If a general introduction or overview is sufficient you should use Library Search to find books and eBooks on the topic. If you need current research then journal articles or reports will be more suitable.  The Finding books and journals guide can help get you started.

If you are not sure what databases are, read our blog post Using databases.

You will also find useful tips on how to identify and assess different information sources on The process of reviewing page of the Literature reviews SkillsGuide.

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Critically assess sources 

To produce good quality academic work you need to read, watch, or listen to, and analyse the right kinds of information. This means assessing the sources you use. You need to ask:

  • Does the source offer the right type and level of information for the work you are undertaking?
  • How reliable and authoritative are the books, articles, etc. that you have found?
  • Are they relevant to and useful for the work you are doing?

You can see how to search for, select, and evaluate information sources on The process of reviewing page of the Literature reviews SkillsGuide.


Reading for studying and professional development requires different skills and practices than reading for leisure.

The Reading at university guide will help you to manage your reading; read critically; and assess the sources of reading and their reliability. It will also introduce how to read journal articles, a process that is very different to reading a book. 

You may wish to use the Reading camp resource or workshop to help you to effectively using your reading in your writing.


At University and in the workplace you need to be able to write in different styles for different audiences. This includes being able to write: academically; essays; critically; reflectively; presentations; reports; and other types of assessments.

The Skills Team have created a range of Writing and assessment guides to help you, including a Grammar resource to help with structure, punctuation, word choice, and academic language.

As your writing is informed by your reading, there is also a workshop and a resource called Reading camp to help you practice effectively using your reading in your writing.

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Understand disciplinary knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge is another way of saying subject knowledge. It comes through attending lectures, seminar, labs, workshops and other time-tabled sessions. It also depends on reading key literature, and then exploring the wider knowledge base.

You will gain more from lectures and reading if you take notes. This helps you process information, see connections, and aids your memory. See the Notetaking SkillsGuide for an introduction to notetaking techniques, and software.


Question disciplinary knowledge

Effective questioning requires a good understanding of the subject, and the ability to critically evaluate evidence and arguments.

You will need the skills described in the Reading at University SkillsGuide. Try applying the critical questions listed on the Identifying and evaluating arguments page. Practice asking the “5 Ws and How”. These are: What? Where? Who? When? Why? and How?

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Communicate complex ideas and information

You can only communicate complexity well if you understand the ideas and information sources. It requires good knowledge of the subject, and the ability to choose the best way to share it. You also need to consider your audience.

Communicate with a diverse audience

As we saw with Writing, you will need to communicate your work with a range of people, and in different ways. This includes sharing information in person, and through written, digital and media technologies in a confident and professional way.

Be clear and concise. Consider the language you use. What else do you need to include to convey your message with impact - will data, images, or infographics help your audience to understand your message?

Are the people in your audience experts in the field, or novices, or a mixture of both? How does this affect how you will share your work? See Identifying your audience for some useful prompts.

These SkillsGuides all cover communications and audiences: Academic presentations; Public communications; the Social media page of the Digital Student.

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Referencing and referencing software

It is essential that you know how to effectively use and cite other people's work using the correct format for your discipline. It is a way of evidencing your reading, supporting the arguments you make in your assessments, and showing how your understanding of your subject is developing.

You can create reference lists manually, and also learn how to use referencing software to automate some of the processes involved. The relevant guides are Referencing your work and Referencing Software.

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Ethical information management

There are different aspects to ethical information management, and different guides to support you. Follow the links to access more information about copyright and licensing, and online safety and security. Accurately citing your sources is also ethical behaviour. 

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Using digital and media technologies

It is important to be competent, safe, and confident in using digital and media technologies. There are legal, personal security, and ethical issues to be aware of, but it need not be scary.

The Digital Student guide is here to help!  We also have support for the Digital researcher, and the Digital teacher.


Information management logistics

Effective information management skills save time, support ethical practices, and make it easy to review the sources you have used.

Referencing software can be used to create a database of all the sources you have used. The Digital student SkillsGuide gives advice on date storage , file management, and much more.

Competence-based knowledge management

You can download this PowerPoint slide showing how experience, knowledge and self-awareness integrate to form the competence of knowledge management.