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TEL 130: Computing Technology and Information Systems for Technology Careers

Types of Sources: By How Quickly They're Published

The Information Cycle by Krueger Library at Winona State University

Here's another way of looking at the information lifecycle: 

The day of...

The reports we get:

  • can contain emotion
  • may not contain all the facts yet
  • are available from places that get information out quickly
  • are created for a general audience to consume

We usually get these reports from:

  • social media
  • TV
  • radio

Example:

  • Facebook post from someone witnessing the event

The week of...

The reports we get:

  • may have more facts due to delay in publishing period
  • may still express emotion
  • are created for a general audience

We usually get these reports from:

  • newspapers

Example:

  • Article in the Palladium-Times (Oswego) or the Post-Standard (Syracuse)

The week after...

The reports we get:

  • Will have more information due to an even longer publishing period
  • Are created for a general audience

We usually get these reports from:

  • magazines
  • newspapers

Example:

  • Article in The Economist

Months after...

The reports we get:

  • Are written for and by scholars (professors, researchers, etc.)
  • Are more factual, less emotional
  • Tend to be analytical - trying to understand the event's impact on something

We usually get these reports from:

  • scholarly journals

Example:

  • "Improvements in adolescent mental health and positive affect using creative arts therapy after a school shooting: A pilot study" from volume 65 of The Arts in Psychotherapy

A year after...

The reports we get:

  • Are longer
  • Take longer to be published
  • Are also written for scholars
  • Are very factual

We usually get these reports from:

  • books
  • government reports

Example:

Years After:

The reports we get:

  • Tend to be unemotional and focus on "who, what, where, when, and why"
  • Are written for a general audience

We usually get these reports from:

  • encyclopedias and other reference material

Example:

But what if my research isn't about a current event?

The information life cycle can still be a useful concept for you! Just keep in mind:

  • Books are the least up-to-date source of information
  • Newspapers and magazines will be your most up-to-date sources of information
  • Scholarly journal articles will fall somewhere in-between

Examples

Let's say you're researching...

  • Virtual reality. Up-to-date information is especially important for anything technical - so you might want to rely more heavily on newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journal articles.
  • Best practices around flipped classrooms. There may not be many newspaper or magazine articles about this, but there are probably scholarly articles and books about this topic.
  • Jane Austen and feminism. In this case, books and older sources might be more helpful than they would be in other areas.

 

Trade Journals: Another source type

Trade journals are kind of a cross between "regular" magazines and scholarly journals. 

Like magazines, trade journals:

  • Tend to have colorful, glossy pages
  • Have shorter articles (usually no more than a few pages long) 

Like scholarly journals, trade journals:

  • Are written for a specific audience (usually people who study or work in a particular field)

Articles in trade journals tend to be more practice-focused than scholarly journals - they might describe a particular tool or strategy that can be used in their profession. (Ex. I wrote an article for a trade journal about some free software that can be used by other librarians.) 

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