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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 Islamic State insurgency and the most recent ebola outbreak is going to be somewhat more difficult.

Time: Day of event Days later Weeks later Months later Years 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 information General: 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

Author Journalists Journalists Journalists: usually not specialists in field Specialists and scholars in the field Specialists and scholars in the field
Audience General public General public General public to knowledgeable layperson

Scholar, specialists, students

General public to specialists

Scholars, students, laypersons

Locating tools Web search tools, social networks Web search tools, newspaper and periodical databases Web search tools, newspaper and periodical databases General and subject-specific databases

Library catalog, general and subject-specific databases

Library reference collection

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Research portal pages' text and linked PDFs by Virginia Tech Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. (Cover and other images are not included in the CC license and are used under Fair Use.)