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Getting Started: Information Research Tips

Introductory help in learning how to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically for research assignments.

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 Event Time Frame Where to Look Written by Audience
News (Internet / TV / Radio Services) Seconds/Minutes Websites
TV news indexes
Journalists General public
Newspapers (print) Day / Days+ Online newspaper websites
Newspaper indexes
Professional journalists General public
Magazines (print) Week / Weeks Periodical indexes
Library catalog
Professional journalists, poets, writers of fiction, and essayists General public to knowledgeable layperson
Journals (print)
Electronic Journals
6 months +
3 months +
Library catalog
Article database
Journal website
Google Scholar
Specialists in the field, usually scholars with PhDs Scholars, specialists, and students
Books 2 years + Library catalog Specialists/scholars General public to specialists
E-books, Digitized Books 2 years + Library catalog
Digital collections
Specialists/scholars General public to specialists
Reference Sources Average 10 years Library catalog Specialists/scholars General public to specialists
Web Pages Seconds/minutes to years Web search tools Anyone General public to Specialists


A Look at Linear Time and Information:

  1. from the occurrence of an event, era, social movement or discovery
  2. to the documentation of evidence relating to this event, era, social movement, etc.
  3. to how the evidence is disseminated
  4. and how researchers (and term paper writers) can find this documentation