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Nursing

Flow of Information

The flow of information is a conceptual timeline of how information is created, disseminated, and found.  Information is dispersed through a variety of channels. Depending on the type of information, the time it takes to reach its audience could range from seconds to minutes, days to weeks, or months to years. Knowing how information flows helps you understand what types of information you need and how to search and obtain the targeted information.

Report of Experiment or Phenomena Time Frame Review Process Where to Look Written by Audience
Conference Proceedings Presented immediately, sometimes published 1-2 years later Possible peer-review Article Databases
Conference websites
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs, graduate students, post-docs Scholars, specialists, and grad students
Journal articles (print and electronic) Average 3-9 months Formal peer-review process Library catalog
Article databases
Journal website
Google Scholar
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs, graduate students, post-docs Scholars, specialists, and students
Review articles Average 1-2 years Formal peer-review process Article databases
Review journals
Google Scholar
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs, graduate students, post-docs Scholars, specialists, and students
Technical Reports and Government Documents Months to years No formal peer-review process Technical report databases
Science.gov
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs, graduate students, post-docs Audience varies depending on document or report
Books, E-books Average 1-3 years Editorial process, not peer-review Library catalog
E-book Collections
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs General public to specialists
Reference Sources, Encyclopedias Average 10 years Editorial process, not peer-review Library catalog
E-book Collections
Specialists in the field, usually scientists or engineers with PhDs General public to specialists
Websites and Blogs Seconds/minutes to years none Web search tools Anyone General public to Specialists

Evaluating Information

When evaluating a resource for credibility and appropriateness consider these questions.
  • Who is the author(s)?
  • When was the source published? How current is the information?
  • Is the information directly applicable to the situation at hand?
  • If not, how close is it to the current situation?
  • What underlying assumptions have been made in the data?
  • Is there any reason to suspect bias of any sort in this data source?
  • How good is the evidence given by (or cited) in the source?
  • Is there any potential conflict of interest?
  • Is any significant data omitted?
  • Are there any other data sources which should be consulted?
  • Are there conflicting potential causes for the event?
  • Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?
  • What reasonable conclusions are possible?

Levels of Evidence