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Evaluating Resources: The Information Cycle

The Information Cycle

The information timeline describes how information is produced and some of the pitfalls of the information cycle. New information may be the most up-to-date, but it may often be inaccurate or incomplete, whereas more complete and unbiased information released weeks or months later may contain all of the facts but it may also miss late-breaking changes to events.

Day Of: Social Media, Internet, TV

  • Breaking information
  • Can be inaccurate, incomplete, biased, and highly emotional

Week Of: Newspapers 

  • More detailed and factual reporting
  • Quotes from experts, statistics, and/or photographs
  • Written by journalists for general audience (not scholarly)
  • Opinion pieces begin to appear 

Week After: Popular Magazines

  • More detailed reporting including interviews, opinions, and analysis
  • Authors are diverse: professional journalists, commentators, scholars, or experts in the field
  • Factual information BUT can have bias reflecting the publication

Months After: Scholarly Journals

  • Detailed analysis backed by evidence-based research
  • Peer-reviewed which helps ensure accuracy and quality
  • Detailed bibliographies
  • Written by experts and scholars in the field
  • Written for a specific audience (scholars) - can be difficult to understand because of discipline-specific language or jargon

A Year After: Books

  • In-depth coverage often providing comprehensive overviews of topic
  • Detailed bibliographies
  • May have bias as authors' credentials and authority can vary 
  • Can be scholarly (detailed analysis) or popular (general discussion)

Years After: Reference Books

  • Factual information written with little emotion 
  • Authors are scholars and/or experts
  • Broad coverage of a topic 

Adapted from:
LSU Libraries: News Literacy: Information Timeline