Ever since Plato, the idea has existed that perception (gathering information) and cognition (processing it) are separate and therefore their significances for human experience have been assessed on different grounds. Traditionally, thinking has been valued more because it's been seen as an activity that goes beyond, and is to some extent even independent from, the sensory stimulants it uses. In contrast, Rudolf Arnheim writes that perception is part of the creative process of cognition, which is not divisible into separate phases.
I've begun to think Arnheim is right. When I first made plans for my dissertation project, I wrote down all kinds of schedules, following the principle of "read, then analyse". In practice, it doesn't really work like that. Everything happens simultaneously, first too soon and then too late. The best insights for analysis come while I'm routinely gathering source material, and the best sources appear when I'm not looking for them. The note-taking stage (which, according to the traditional division, would still be part of the collecting of information) seems to be the most creative one, since that is when the most far-reaching choices are made.