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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
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.