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SPC 120: Research Tutorial

Information: How do I make sense of it all?

You're part of a global conversationAll sources are part of a larger conversation

As you "listen" to the scholarly conversation, you will notice that information exists in a wide variety of formats depending on when the information was created. As an example, information communicated with an initial tweet concerning Hurricane Irma might eventually be published in a book about extreme weather. In this way, information disseminated about events becomes part of an "information cycle" or timeline.  Each source of information along the timeline offers greater detail and analysis. 

The reference sources you read for background, such as encyclopedias, are often written a year or more following an event. Accordingly, these articles provide important background, history, and context, which is important to your understanding of the topic.

As a student coming into the conversation, it is helpful to know where along the timeline the information you find on your topic falls. That will help you to understand the level of depth and analysis provided by the source.

Let's learn more about the information cycle in the following video...

(image: Conversation by Holger Irlbacher on Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The Information Cycle

What happens to the information once an event occurs? 

This is the Information Life Cycle Zone 

Information starts with an event 

For example and alien crashes lands in the remote desert of Nevada. 

Moments later, images are posted on social media -- tweets of fear, people may be scared at first.

Later that day, a news crew is on the scene talking to witnesses and checking facts for TV and radio.

News coverage continues in the following days.

People begin to see the alien integrating into human society.

A week or so after the event popular magazines begin to do in depth pieces on the alien.

Given more time, researches begin to publish academic journal articles on very specific topics like 

  • Diseases in Aliens 
  • The Environmental Impacts of space visitors 
  • Green and Yellow Fashion Trends 

During the year following the event, books and government publications address different topics related to the alien landing like

  • water treatment at space ship landing sites 
  • the economic impact of alien technology 
  • and alien culture 

Years after the first alien landing, reference books like encyclopedias and bibliographies include entries on the event.

What followed and how researchers of different types have studied the aliens. 

There may be bibliographies published that bring together lists of all the information published about the alien.

And all this time the conversation never really stopped nor did news stories about the alien in society.

We have reached the end of the information life cycle.

license link CC-BY-NC-SAThis video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 United States license. Courtesy of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Libraries. Published July 2016.

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