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Information Cycle: Information Cycle

What is the Information Cycle?

The information cycle refers to how different forms of media process an event over time.

Different forms of media include:

  • social media (e.g., twitter, facebook, Instagram, youtube)
  • TV/radio news media
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • academic journals
  • books
  • reference materials

What your instructors expect ("I need scholarly articles!")

Most assignments and research projects for university-level courses demand academic or scholarly information.

This is because academic work needs to be based on information that has undergone analysis, reflection, or experimental trial and process.

Academic information takes time to be produced. It needs to go through review processes to ensure its trustworthiness, validity, and reliability. This is different than with information produced through social media, broadcast news media, and even many magazines.

The Information Cycle

Much of the information we deal with in the academic world is ultimately based on real-time events, and thinking about information creation in terms of a time-based cycle can be helpful.

Information tends to be created

  • in different formats
  • at different times

However, some forms of information--such as social media or Wikipedia content--can emerge at any point in the information cycle.

Information Cycle Explained: A Video Tutorial

The following tutorial from the Patrick Power Library at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia clearly discusses how information is processed into different media over time.

For more information on the Information Cycle:

For other resources, consult the following:

Why is knowing about the Information Cycle significant?

Why know about the information cycle?

  • It helps you differentiate scholarly information from 'popular' information.
  • It helps you choose different types of information for your research--whether you need to talk about recent events or about things that are ongoing.
  • If you know that it takes time for scholarly information to be produced, you'll know that scholarly journals or books may not be available to address very recent events.
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