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Information timeline

When searching for information, it is always wise to keep in mind the information timeline.  It is very easy to find plenty of books and encyclopedia articles on ancient Egypt,  the Great Depression, and World War II.  Finding information and scholarly articles about the Health Care bill of 2010 controversy and how Southern Sudan came to be a nation is going to be somewhat more difficult.

Time:Day of eventDays laterWeeks laterMonths laterYears later
    television news
Television, radio, web
Newspapers, TV, radio, web
    National Geographic
Popular and mass market magazines
    Trade journal
Trade magazines and scholarly journals
    Academic journal

Scholarly journals, books, conference proceedings

Reference sources such as encyclopedias

Type of informationGeneral: who, what, where (usually not why)Varies, some articles include analysis, statistics, photographs, editorials, opinions

Still in reporting stage, general, editorial, opinions, statistics, photographs

Usually no bibliography at this stage

Research results, detailed and theoretical discussion

Bibliography available at this stage 

In-depth coverage of a topic, edited compilations of scholarly articles relating to a topic

General overview giving factual information

Bibliography available

AuthorJournalistsJournalistsJournalists: usually not specialists in fieldSpecialists and scholars in the fieldSpecialists and scholars in the field
AudienceGeneral publicGeneral publicGeneral public to knowledgeable layperson

Scholar, specialists, students

General public to specialists

Scholars, students, laypersons

Locating toolsWeb search tools, social networksWeb search tools, newspaper and periodical databasesWeb search tools, newspaper and periodical databasesGeneral and subject-specific databases

Library catalog, general and subject-specific databases

Library reference collection